NEWS- Mourned: Historic Woolen Mills dam remembered
PHOTO BY BILL EMORY
Even the most ardent supporters of taking down the Woolen Mills dam felt pangs of emotion as the breach, long in the works, finally started August 14. Within two days, the bulk of the historic dam was in rubble, and the rain-muddied Rivanna flowed free for the first time in nearly two centuries.
"I still have mixed emotions," says Presley Thach, whose family owns the site of the old Woolen Mills, now a storage yard, and the dam. "I thought the dam was pretty. Aesthetically, I enjoyed looking at it. But I still think environmentally it was the right thing to do."
The Rivanna Conservation Society, under point man Jason Halbert, led the charge to remove the dam so the American shad could return to its ancient spawning grounds. Others were not persuaded that opening the river for a few miles before the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir dam warranted taking down a historic structure, and a steady stream of visitors flowed down to the dam to pay their respects over the past few weeks.
This week, mitigation continues, and the fall will see trees planting and vegetation along the newly loosened banks of the Rivanna.
"It's a river again," says Thach. "It's going to be interesting to see where the channel is carved."