Follow The Republic:
Day after day this week, groups of Edinburgh residents gathered at the town’s dam on the Big Blue River, watching to see if the dam would fall apart.
A section of rock from the center of the dam, near State Road 252 and Eisenhower Drive, had given way, creating an approximately 10-foot-wide hole for water to pour through, but the dam didn’t fall.
The dam, which is 10 feet high and about 320 feet wide, appeared to be structurally safe, building commissioner Wade Watson said. Town workers planned to rope off the stairs to the fishing area in front of the dam, just in case water and dirt broke through, making it unsafe for people below it to fish, he said.
The hole could have been there for months, and the water that typically flows over the top might have hidden it, Watson said. The water level this week was lower than it was during the drought last summer, making the crack visible, he said.
Even if the dam washed away, no homes or other buildings would be damaged, he said.
The dam is in the Big Blue River’s channel and doesn’t hold back so much water that the river downstream couldn’t handle it if the dam broke, said Ken Smith, assistant director of the division of water in the state department of natural resources.
“The typical danger is when the water is high and when there’s water going over it and a swimmer or boat goes over it. Right now, the water is low,” Smith said.
Workers from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources last inspected the dam in January 2012 but didn’t look for damage underwater and didn’t report a hole at that time, he said.
The town got a call Thursday reporting that water was coming through the dam, Watson said. Edinburgh owns and maintains the dam, which was built in the 1880s to operate a flour mill that was torn down decades ago.
Shane Smith was among a group of about 15 people who checked on the dam Thursday evening, and then he revisited it Friday.
A friend told him the dam looked like it had a small, almost imperceptible hole Thursday morning, Smith said. The hole had grown to about 5-feet-wide by the time Smith saw it that evening, but water was still pouring over the top of the dam as usual. By Friday afternoon, the hole had about doubled in size, the water level above the dam had dropped nearly 2 feet, and water was no longer coming over the top, he said.
Department of Natural Resources officials recommended that the town hire an engineer to inspect the damage. Watson hopes an engineer will be able to tell early next week if the dam needs repairs or is safe enough to fish in front of it, he said.
“I’ve done a lot of fishing down there,” said Danny Sheckles, an Edinburgh resident since 1964. “I hope they can fix it.”
Resident Marilyn Workman has been going to the dam to watch the water flow all 42 years she has lived in the area, and she had never seen the water level drop so water wasn’t flowing over the top, she said.
Sitting on a bench near the dam and watching the water is one of her favorite pastimes, she said. She wiped some tears when she talked about the damage. Workman said she’s enjoyed seeing children roast hotdogs on a sandbar in the middle of the river below the dam and splash in the water. She saw the dam for the first time as a teenager.
“I’ve been in awe of it ever since. It’s beautiful. It makes you sad to see it look like this,” she said.
She is concerned Edinburgh won’t have the money to fix the dam.
“I’d hate to see it go. This is Edinburgh,” she said.
Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!
Note: All comments left on our sites are first reviewed by an automated comment moderation system. Your comment may take up to 5 minutes to appear. If for any reason your comment can not be approved you will receive an email from this system with a detailed explanation.
All content copyright ©2013 The Republic, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.