Thursday, August 14, 2014

Newburgh Old Dam #47

On the east side of Newburgh, IN, the powerhouse for the old dam still stands and it can be rented for parties up to 100 people.

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Across the street is a log cabin.


The blue sign on the right-side of the picture is where I took a picture of the powerhouse. It reads:

The story of the Ohio River is not complete without the story of its locks and dams. Early navigation on the Ohio was restricted by water levels dictated by the seasons. In dry months the river was so shallow inparts it could be crossed by foot or wagon. The fall and spring rises in water level allowed the passage of boats, but not without the danger of debris, snags and obstructions. Recognizing the importance of river transportation, in 1824 the U.S. Congress authorized the Army Corps of Engineers to remove snags and install wing dams, man-made obstructions laid perpendicular to the river to increase flow in the center of the river.
In 1911 Congress passed the Rivers and Harbors Act, authorizing construction of locks and dams along the approximately 981-mile path of the Ohio River. The placement of the dams was based on the distance required from the previous up-=river dam to maintain a sufficient pool depth for navigation, placing most of the Ohio River dams in remote locations, isolated from towns. Workers and their families built their homes in close proximity to the dams, grew their own produce and schooled their own children.
Personnel at the dam sites were on call at all times, and work on the dams was dangerous, often requiring men to enter the murky waters in diving suits to remove debris to free the wickets, wooden and iron devices that have been compared to ironing boards.
The complex built for the locks and dam at Newburgh was typical. Construction at Newburgh began in 1921. The entire system, from Pittsburgh to Cairo, was completed in 1929. Newburgh Dam had a powerhouse, lockmasters' quarters, storage buildings, workshops and fuel equipment. The dam was a wicket type. Wickets, invented in 1852, were made of wood on a steel frame resting on the river bottom. The wickets could be raised or lowered.
By the 1940s, modern watercraft required larger locks and deeper pools. In the 1950s, the Corps undertook the Ohio River Navigation and Modernization Program to replace the obsolete wicket system. Newburgh's new locks and dam were relocated upriver and were functional by 1969. There is a centralized Control Station on top of the Operations Building, completed in 1980, from which lock operators can view several miles of river. The two new locks are 600 and 1,200 feet long and have a pool depth of over 300 feet.
The powerhouse of the old Newburgh system can still be seen.

The statement that the pool depth is 300 feet has to be an error. The minimum depth would be more like 9 or 12 feet. I wonder if 300 feet is the width of the channel. The next day I noticed a sandbar in the middle of the river.

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So keeping a channel wide enough for two 110-foot wide tows to pass does seem to be a challenge.

A view downstream from the river side of the powerhouse after going down one flight of stairs on the concrete river wall. The buildings on the right are the east side of downtown Newburgh.


A view a little to the left shows the public boat dock and launch. And the pile of mud is because they were still cleaning up a lot of mud that got deposited on the river wall during a high-water event.


If you look very closely, you will see a man standing on the boat dock because I took this picture after a boat had just arrived from downstream. And the following photo is of the riverside of the powerhouse from that dock.


The concrete structure that you can barely see through the haze on the right is the new Newburgh dam mentioned on the sign. And the smokestacks are for the Alcola plant that is further upstream.

Below is a closeup of the water gauge that is on the powerhouse. Note from the street view that if the river is about 48 feet, the Newburgh road would be flooded. Flood stage for the lower basin of the Newburgh dam is 38 feet.




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