That Kenly Contraption

That Kenly Contraption is the name fondly used by locals in Johnston County, NC, referring to the Fish Weir that was recently installed at the site of the former Lowell Mill Dam.  Please read our previous blogs on the weir to learn more about this fascinating project conducted by Dr. Joe Hightower and graduate student Josh Raabe at NCSU.


By Suzette Rodriguez 

Device aids study of Little River fish

KENLY — Joshua Raabe might not have snagged the biggest fish out of the Little River. But he could claim bragging rights for building the granddaddy of all fish traps.

A bass headed up or down stream would have to pole vault to clear it. But it’s flexible enough for canoes and boats to drift downstream over it.

The contraption, as locals call it, is a resistance-board weir, designed to safely capture fish coming and going in the waters where the 10-foot-thick concrete dam of Lowell Mill once stood.

Restoration Systems, a Raleigh company that specializes in environmental restoration, bought the dam, then blasted and cleared it away in December 2005 and January of 2006. It plans to give the 17-acre site and a $140,000 endowment to the county for use as a park.

The purpose behind removing the dam was to open up spawning areas to striped bass, herring and shad — species of saltwater fish that spawn in fresh water. With the removal of the dam, the fish can now migrate from the Atlantic Ocean up the Little River all the way to Atkinson Mill.

Raabe, 25, a graduate student, built and installed the weir as part of a study by the N.C. Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at N.C. State University. U.S. Fish & Wildlife is funding the study, while Restoration Systems put up the $15,000 to buy the materials.