Demolition begins on the Rockford dam

Demolition of the Shell Rock River Dam


ROCKFORD, Iowa – It’s been a long time coming, ten years in fact, but the demolition of the Rockford dam has begun.

It’s something city leaders felt needed to be done, and as a conservationist and member of the community, Doug Schroeder agrees.

“We have two major things going on,” he said, “we have the deteriorating dam, which is a liability to the county since we own the dam now, and of course, the health of the stream.”

The 142-year-old dam was originally made out of wood and has been repaired and refinished over the years, but all of those repairs just didn’t cut it.

“Obviously the dam has failed; they’ve found that there’s a hole in the dam,” said project contractor and Vice President of Beemer Construction Lee Beemer.

The hole in question is on the west side of the dam, and without all of the snow and ice covering the area, residents say you can see a whirlpool effect happening which means the water is flowing under the dam instead of over it.

The space is leading to safety issues in this weak spot and this discovery is what prompted those involved, to take action.

“Either it had to be repaired or removed,” Beemer said, “and obviously, there’s no use for it anymore, so removal is the best economical way to do it.”

The dam might not be used any longer, but its place in the town’s history was what made Wednesday’s demolition a spectacle.

Many area residents who came out to see the dam removal, and Schroeder was one of them.

He says he’s mostly excited to see how things turn out in the future but is sad to see this historic landmark go.

“The stream will just return to what it looks like north of town and south of town it’ll take a while to redistribute itself a little bit but in time it’ll look like the stream you see downstream here.”

Officials with Beemer construction say that this is just the beginning of a lengthy project, but they are hoping to have the majority, if not all of the work completed by the end of March.

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