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Letter: Reader celebrates news of removing dam

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Thank you Mayor Barton, Ed Fain of the Friends of Sugar Creek and all others involved in the long project of getting the low head dam removed from Sugar Creek.

I’ve been on the river all of my life and remember as a child my Dad warning me of the dangers of the dam and the waters around her.

Dr. Lewis Runnels of Darlington did some research on the river and received the following information from Edythe Cain about one of her early family members.

Her ancestor, W.H.B. Endicott, along with Silas Kenworth (mill owner) and James Mullen left Darlington on April 27, 1843 in flood waters for New Orleans in a flat boat with a load of flour. They encountered one dam above Crawfordsville called Clark’s dam. (I would place this dam near the confluence of Little Sugar Creek.) They got into trouble when they attempted to cross the dam at Crawfordsville. At the time it was known as Elston’s or Martin’s dam. Kenworth got entangled in a rope and almost drowned. The flat boat broke free and was caught at the foot of Washington Street.

It was stated that between Darlington and the Wabash river they crossed eleven dams — the highest at the Narrows being 12 to 15 feet high. They finally reached New Orleans — no date given. They were to return by steamer to Lafayette, but due to low water on the Wabash, they landed at Louisville. They arrived at Darlington on July 10, 1843.

With that history in mind let’s return to the present and the last remaining dam on Sugar Creek. Many thanks to all who have worked so hard over the years to get this dangerous relic of the past removed — the mayor of Crawfordsville, the Friends of Sugar Creek and the Biology Department of Manchester College providing their excellent research on the improved ecology of rivers with the removal of old dams.

From a small drainage ditch in Tipton county to the Wabash river, a distance of about 90 miles, Sugar Creek drops almost 5 foot per mile. It’s the most fall per mile of any stream in the state.

When the dam is out and the area cleared — let’s meet at the river to celebrate. I’m going to be the first paddler (90 years old) to run the river where the dam once was.

Bob Stwalley

Founding member U.S. Canoe Association

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