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The damned dams of the Adirondacks

Notes from the North Woods

Marcy Dam no longer provides this scenic vista. The pond has been greatly reduced, and it consists of a number of small streams running through a wide field of mud and debris. Eventually, vegatation such as tag alder will reclaim the mudflats and beaver may even move back to the region to establish a colony and revive the pond.

Marcy Dam no longer provides this scenic vista. The pond has been greatly reduced, and it consists of a number of small streams running through a wide field of mud and debris. Eventually, vegatation such as tag alder will reclaim the mudflats and beaver may even move back to the region to establish a colony and revive the pond.

Unfortunately, the old log dam was damaged beyond repair as a result of Irene’s onslaught which brought heavy rains, stiff winds and a lot of runoff from the surrounding High Peaks.

Although Marcy Dam was a destination site, it was also a place for launching off, as well as a wonderful place to return to. It always seemed familiar, even if you’d only been there once. It was a benchmark, and you knew the journey was just beginning, or it was about to end. A quick trip into Marcy Dam was like visiting with an old friend.

Unfortunately, dear old Marcy couldn’t hold up to the powerful Irene and her Tropical Storm brethren. Neither could the old dam at Duck Hole, which was located several miles west of Marcy Dam. In between these two locations, there were several other remote dams, some of which were previously damaged, such as the dam at Flowed Lands, and some of which had previously been repaired, such as the dam at Henderson Lake.

Before Irene had even batted an eye on the Adirondacks, the old logging dam at Duck Hole was already in pretty rough shape.

Two years before Irene, DEC had removed the foot bridge that straddled the dam to provide hikers with access to the Bradley Pond Trail. Despite it’s advanced age, and a distinct lack of care and maintenance, the old Duck Hole dam managed to hang on. Sure, it leaked, and it had crumbled a bit, but the structure still managed to do what it was intended to do. It held back the waters of three roaring brooks each spring, and it provided safe sanctuary for beaver and brook trout, muskrat and salamanders, turtles and osprey, kingfishers and blue heron, bald eagles and more.

I was considered one of the ‘more.’ Over the years, I traveled into Duck Hole on foot, bicycle, ski, snowshoe and eventually by canoe. In fact, I may have been the first public paddler to cover the new paddler’s route which began with a carry from the Upper Works into Henderson Lake and on to a carry via Preston Pond Pass into the Preston Ponds.

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