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VIDEO: Carbonton Dam river trip before removal…set to music!

Here’s a short music video I made following a preliminary reconnaissance trip on the Deep River hosted by Restoration Systems for the NC Division of Water Quality. Three years later, in 2006, we removed the Carbonton Dam in order to restore the area through which we are traveling from impoundment to natural river. The lowered impoundment revealed rapids and channel features not seen since the early 1800s. The newly restored river has subsequently thrived, including the re-establishment of the federal listed Threatened and Endangered Cape Fear Shiner, which was reported nationwide.

RS gets a visit from Marc Sudol

On April 10th, 2008, RS had an important visit from Dr. Mark Sudol, the Chief of the Regulatory Branch at the Headquarters of the US Army Corps of Engineers. Dr. Sudol oversees the Corps wetland permitting program and works on policy and guidance at the national level. This was a unique and welcomed opportunity for RS to showcase our projects to someone with real influence to direct policy.  Dr. Sudol visited Causey Farm, Carbonton Dam, Bear Creek and Holly Grove.

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Causey Farm

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Causey Farm

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Carbonton Dam

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Bear Creek

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Holly Grove

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Bear Creek

Progress at Carbonton Park

This morning George Howard and I drove down to the site of the former Carbonton Dam to meet Randy Turner and Dr. Adam Riggsbee, both of Restoration Systems, and Dick Harrison, Executive Director of the Deep River Parks Association.

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Adam, Randy, Dick & George assemble in front of the old powerhouse. 

Carbonton Dam was removed almost a year ago, but the project is nowhere near finished.  As anticipated, Restoration Systems is working hand-in-hand with Mr. Harrison to plan and implement a public park at the site, which is the exact geographic center of the state of North Carolina resting in Chatham, Lee and Moore Counties.   

On our visit today, we had a chance to take a look at the transformation that the park has undergone in the past year.  We were all amazed, in hindsight, to look at the flowing river and the massive remnants of the dam along the bank of the river.  It is a little piece of history that will remain intact in the community, along with the steep powerhouse that remains on the opposite bank of the river.  It is a testament as to how much progress can be made in one year.

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This photo shows the piece of the old dam that remains, along with the newly sprouting grass along the bank.

Our resident park expert, and “office blog laureate,” Randy Turner, spent a great deal of time on the planning and implementation of the layout and design of this green space; and it shows.  Some trees needed to be removed to make space for the park, but Randy hand-picked several immense, aged trees to shade the area.  It was truly fascinating, and rather humbling, to stand next to these century old trees that have stood the test of time.  It reminds you of where you stand in the scheme of things.

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A view of some of the trees lining the park.

We all walked from the car and descended down a winding gravel pathway toward the river bank, which was a beautiful sight, given the time of year and the vivid colors of the leaves.  Randy explained that a system of tubing and mats, about three inches deep, was placed below the surface of the gravel to provide stability and to keep the gravel from shifting off of the pathway.  It was a very innovative and thoughtful solution to a possible erosion problem in the future.

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A view of the gravel path leading to the future boat ramp.

Standing on the bottom of the path near the bank, I was reminded of the thick brush and overgrown weeds that shadowed the view of the river less than a year ago.  Now the area adjacent to the powerhouse is lined with an expansive grassy field leading to the river.

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The bottom of the park, which used to be overgrown with thick brush. 

It was a pleasure getting the chance to meet Dick Harrison and gather an idea of his plans for improving the park and the community by keeping this historical area alive.  He seems to take a great deal of pride in planning the park and working with Randy to get it right.  He summed it up best when he was standing on the lawn alongside the river.   “Can’t you just picture it?” he said.  “I’ll be standing right here in this spot next summer cooking hamburgers on the grill.”  We agreed that we were anticipating a Restoration Systems BBQ at the park in the spring.  The site will also play host to the 9th annual canoe trip on the Deep River on New Year’s Day; an event that Mr. Harrison says he has participated in every year since its inception, along with many other members of the community.

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Randy, Dick & George discuss plans for the park. 

We all take great pride in the new park, resulting from a great deal of hard work, planning and community support.  We look forward to keeping you updated on our progress, the renovation of the powerhouse as a public use facility and, of course, events that are certain to take place at the park in the near future.