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Yorkville Photographer Documents Removal of Blackberry Creek Dam

Dam removal part of repairs to River Road bridge project.

Yorkville resident Ken Gortowski, a self-described "dam removal geek" is documenting the removal of the 175-year-old Blackberry Creek dam.

Gortowski said he visits the dam site weekly to photograph the removal. He keeps a journal of the work and archives of his photos at his website, www.waterdogjournal.com.

"This is one of the best things that could happen to a creek and the Fox River," he said in an email. "This is one of those things that kind of flies under the radar for 99 percent of people, but it is important from an ecological standpoint."

Gortowski, who calls himself a "creek fishing junkie," said he hopes to find smallmouth bass "wandering upstream in a couple of years."

The dam removal is part of the River Road bridge project. The bridge, which shared an abutment with the Blackberry Creek dam, was closed IN 2011 after officials noticed a crack in the abutment worsening.

Last year the Aurora Beacon reported the Department of Natural Resources said the dam is an impediment to water quality. Removing the dam would "create a cleaner flow from the Fox River into Blackberry Creek, creating a better environment for fish and fish spawning," the Beacon reported.

Bill Barkley January 29, 2013 at 05:49 PM
Just by looking at the pictures it looks like they are change the course of Blackberry to more closely follow the old path before the road washed out in the mid 1950's. Is this the case? What has been done to assure Jaycee Pond doesn't drain? The other question I had was when they opened up a small section of the dam, why did they do it so the flow was right on the worst support in the whole bridge? I look forward to watching the progress in pictures. Thanks Ken. Bill Barkley
Ken Gortowski January 29, 2013 at 10:11 PM
I've hiked up the creek from the park a few times. It's really wild looking back there. I could see how climbing the dam would look good to kids. I'm sure I would have done it myself. As for memories, I still think of downtown Chicago by how it looked in the 60's and as kids we'd ride the "L" down there and wander around by ourselves.
Ken Gortowski January 29, 2013 at 10:18 PM
The plans show that this will have no effect on the pond by the time they're done. If you like to fish creeks, this will open up a good chunk of Blackberry and they're should actually be fish there. Right now they're just dredging where the creek has been flowing. It's not real clear yet how it will be handled when it gets to the bridge. I never did ask why they chose to open up the dam where they did first. I think the project was supposed to move along quicker last year than it did, moving wires delayed everything. I have a feeling this weekend won't show much progress either, especially with all this rain we're getting. It will look pretty dramatic again once the bypass channel is finished and they start dredging again.
Z February 03, 2013 at 04:45 AM
Only if your Lucky will you be able to fish this stretch of the Blackberry Creek for the City will ban the fishing just as they did on Fox River Kayak Chute it will be probaly be known as the next Blackberry Kayak Chute. Just like the Kayak chute on the River nobody gets to use it because the water is either to high after rains or to low because of droughts, although the fisherman could be using it. I was all for the Fox River Damn improvement, but hindsight being 20/20 we all would have been better removing the dam completely.
Ken Gortowski February 03, 2013 at 12:29 PM
I was all for total removal of the dam, would have been better for the river, but I can live with the kayak chute. I'm catching fish upstream now that I hardly ever seen before, especially more white bass and walleye. They're using the chute to move around. There's no need for anyone to be fishing in the chute, plenty of river on the other side of it. Besides, anglers are notorious for leaving hooks and lures lodged on the bottom of the river. Look at what the white water kayakers have on their feet next time you get the chance, neoprene booties. I'd hate to step on a hook or lure with just that on. There's a 99.9 percent chance the city won't do any such thing on the creek. At first I was disappointed to be cut off from the stretch below the dam when it was blocked off years ago. But you can still get to the creek from the opposite side of the river, you have to wade across. One of the benefits was cutting off the bank anglers. That area used to be a long trash heap. Not anymore.

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