Friday At Jordans Point

Kit Huffman

Work continued Friday on the Jordans Point river restoration project that includes removing the dam and most of the former railroad piers, as well as retaining or salvaging some structures and artifacts for historic interpretation.

The project is being led by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the city of Lexington, with contractor Shenandoah Streamworks out of Weyers Cave hired to do the demolition and assist with salvage.

By Friday midday, the contractor’s hydraulic hammer was breaking up the railroad pier foundations, having demolished the standing portions of the piers on Wednesday and Thursday.  The hammer equipment was then replaced by an excavator, which moved and removed pieces of rock and concrete debris from the pier foundations.

As the excavator did its work, riverbed sediment discolored the water and flowed downstream in a muddy stream.  Some bystanders watching the work expressed concern about the health of bass in the river, which spawn in April.  The location of the dam and piers has been a traditional spawning area for the bass, they said.

Some watchers also wondered about the upcoming Road and River Race in early May, which now appears likely to take place after the dam is removed.  Will the lowered river be suitable for the canoe/kayak portion of the race, and will the traditional take-out beach on the west end of the dam still border flowing water, they wondered.

Also on Friday, the two millstones salvaged by divers and the excavator equipment on Thursday had been set up on the Point within the orange web fencing.  The millstones, which may have originally come from the former gristmill on the nearby millrace, will be studied by an archaeologist working with DGIF, said project director Louise Finger.

The next phase in the river will be building a temporary causeway of rock to allow the approach of the demolition equipment.  That phase of building the causeway is expected to take at least a day or two, if not longer.  Finger was unable to provide a date for the dam demolition, though it seems likely it will occur next week.




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