“All good things must come to an end.”
And such is the story of the historic Bloede’s Dam in Patapsco Valley State Park.
Not well known, Bloede’s Dam was the world’s first hydroelectic dam, built by the Patapsco Electric and Manufacturing Company in 1907. Providing electric to the Baltimore area until 1924, Bloede’s Dam has withstood the test of time, even through Hurricane Agnes in 1972.
But with its short-lived usefulness, the presence of the dam has presented problems over the past century. Part of a four-dam system on the Patapsco River which include recently removed Simkins and Union Dams in 2010, and the remaining Daniels Dam, these dams have caused environmental and safety issues.
These four dams held back a large amount of silt along the 175-mile Patapsco River and prevented the natural movement of fish and American Eel along the river. In recent years, there have been nine drownings of park visitors near the dam which causes even more concern.
So as the two dams before him, it is time for the removal of Bloede’s Dam.
The project will begin in early July, 2016 and will consist of three phases that should be completed by the end of 2017. The project will have significant impact for park visitors, in particular bikers that enjoy using the paved Grist Mill trail.Construction equipment will need to use the Grist Mill trail to reach the dam, as well as removal of the dam debris. A portion of the Grist Mill will be closed for park visitors for 18 – 20 months during the project.
During this time nearly 7 acres of trees and vegetation will be removed and reforestation plans are in place to restore the area and include new overlooks and a rapids area for kayaking.
Even with the removal of the dam, it will take a few years for the river to reestablish itself. With the massive silt movement it will take time for pools to redevelop for healthy fish habitats.
While an historical landmark will no longer exist, the natural habitat will thrive and be restored from the removal of Bloede’s Dam.