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The DEC says the Croghan dam is a hazard.  The sawmill's in the background.
The DEC says the Croghan dam is a hazard. The sawmill's in the background.

Story 2.0 - Croghan asks for time on crumbling dam

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The Department of Environmental Conservation says it's on schedule to remove the last stop logs from the Croghan dam any day now. That'll lower the pond on the Beaver River by some five feet. That's after the pond in Lewis County was lowered two feet last summer when stop logs were removed.

DEC engineers say the dam's a hazard. But local officials say it's part of history and there's no rush while they seek money to save it. David Sommerstein reports.

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The mill's waterwheel is already broken and dry.

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Reported by

David Sommerstein
Reporter/ Producer

Lewis County legislator Mike Tabolt said he spoke with the DEC’s dam safety engineer yesterday, "and his reaction to my complaint about the stop logs was don’t make a big deal of it."

The DEC said it’s holding off on plans to breach the dam completely, but the stop logs have to go.  Tabolt says he’s been reassured the removal isn’t permanent but he says it’s hard to believe.

"That’s the part that scares us a little bit. Once they get those stop logs out, are they really going to be OK with us putting back the way it was?" Talbot said. 

Local leaders are spearheading an effort to rehabilitate the dam, maybe even install new hydropower.  They’ve applied for a $100,000 federal grant to study how to do that. Now they’re waiting to find out if they got it.

Tabolt says the dam and downstream residents did fine through this spring’s historic floods. "Realistically there’s no hazard to anybody downstream.  There’s only three houses there.  Why don’t they just let us do our study, leave the stop logs in, and we’re cooprating, we’re doing what they wanted," Talbot said. "Why don’t they just leave things as they are?"

Croghan depends on the pond behind the dam for recreation and as a reservoir for the fire department.

"For fighting fires. Any major fire that’s right close to the village this is where they’re going to draw the water out of." said John Martin, who owns the Croghan Island water-powered sawmill, the village’s historic jewel that’s at the heart of the effort to save the dam.

Martin said low water levels over the winter already broke the bearings on the mill’s waterwheel, so the wheelhouse is dry and Martin’s running on electric power, but the bills are adding up.

"Right now we’re hanging on but not by much. I don’t know how long we’re going to be here," Martin said.

Local leaders hope the sawmill hangs on long enough for them to find a way to fix the crumbling dam the mill depends on. They also hope the DEC gives them the time to do it.

David Sommerstein, North Country Public Radio, Croghan.

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