(4.3) HISTORY - September 30, 1968: An Infamous Date for the Ocklawaha River
September 30, 1968:
An INFAMOUS Date
September 30, 1968
An INFAMOUS Date for Florida's Ocklawaha River
SPECIAL NOTE AS OF 30 SEPTEMBER 2020:
It is now 52 years since RODMAN DAM was closed across Florida's OCKLAWAHA RIVER
An Information, Opinion, Photos, & Sources Report
Compiled by Ocklawahaman Paul Nosca
With the assistance of Captain Erika Ritter & the late Roy R. "Robin" Lewis III
The featured 30 September 1968 newspaper clipping was discovered on 25 August 2013
By Captain Erika Ritter
The 01 January 1969 "Water Resources Development by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Florida"
publication shown in the scanned PDF file
attachment far below was discovered on 12 October 2013
By the late Roy R. "Robin" Lewis III
Created: 26 August 2013
Last Revised: 29 September 2020
FIRST POSTED TO THE INTERNET -- on a different webpage -- by Ocklawahaman Paul Nosca: 30 September 2006
When it was only 38 years since RODMAN DAM was closed across Florida's OCKLAWAHA RIVER
This webpage shall be revised from time to time for accuracy and better grammar
or as additional pertinent information is obtained!
"The 30 September 1968 completion of Rodman Dam caused the loss of 21 river miles of free-flowing riverine ecosystem. Florida's peninsula was blessed by the Creator with thousands of lakes but very few swift-flowing streams of any considerable length. The 'pre-Rodman Dam' 56-mile long 'Silver-Ocklawaha River' was unique in this state by virtue of having one of the world's greatest-flow 1st magnitude artesian spring groups (73 degree F Silver Springs) as its supreme headwaters with unimpeded access for fish and other aquatic life--located more than 50 miles above tidewater influence."
"Let us leave no bit of useful information uncollected, unstudied, or unused in our shared work
for the restoration to free-flowing again of Florida's 56-mile Silver and Ocklawaha River system."
For many years Ocklawahaman Paul Nosca has diligently and extensively searched for and collected Ocklawaha River related information from available governmental and private archives of documents or photos, both online and/or "hardcopy." The photograph (shown below) by Mr. Ray Price from the Monday, September 30, 1968 Ocala Star-Banner newspaper clipping is--as far as Ocklawahaman Paul Nosca knows--the only known picture of the Ocklawaha River mainstream channel still free-flowing (under a roadway bridge) through the [reportedly at least 200-foot-wide] gap in the earthen dike just before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE) closed Rodman Dam on 30 September 1968. It is a downstream-looking snapshot of the Ocklawaha River taken just upstream of Rodman’s earthen dam. Off to the left (but out of sight in this photo) would have been Rodman's familiar spillway structure built of concrete and metal. Beyond the right edge of this scene would have been the uplands of the Ocala National Forest. The Ocklawaha River's crooked course has officially marked the northern (and western) boundaries of the Ocala National Forest properties since 1938.
Why has this historic photograph been buried-away for so many years, presumably hidden from the view of river restoration advocates? And by whom? Ocklawahaman Paul Nosca now offers to all (until someone forces me not to) this maybe one of a kind look at the way the Ocklawaha River was just before the 9/30/1968 completion of Rodman Dam. Thank you very much to Mr. Ray Price and the Ocala Star-Banner newspaper (Ocala, FL) for recording this sad piece of Ocklawaha history. By the way, Monday, September 30, 2015 was the 47th anniversary of this real Florida tragedy.
The roadway bridge in the picture was probably well constructed as workers with heavy equipment most likely used it to cross the river from time to time. Examining the snapshot proportionally appears to show that the concrete bridge supports are spaced about 40 feet apart because we know that the "crown" of the earthen dam is 28 feet above sea level while the "stage" of the river back then was between 5 and 6 feet above sea level. Would there be any logical reason to destroy this bridge when the bulldozers started pushing fill dirt to close the gap? This bridge possibly would have helped to stabilize the earth and rocks that were used for the closure of Rodman Dam (Kirkpatrick Dam). Maybe it could be conjectured that this roadway bridge is buried inside the dam just waiting for careful excavation by U.S. Forest Service equipment to make it useable once more for (perhaps much less expensive than previously thought) Ocklawaha River restoration to free-flowing again? In another photo (further below) is the USACOE engineering plan for Rodman Dam. Does the symbol on the plan at that Ocklawaha River channel closure mean anything?
NOTE: Click-on photos to enlarge them!
Ocala, Florida, Monday, September 30, 1968
(Photo by Ray Price)
Last View Of The Old Channel
The above view shows the old channel of the Ocklawaha River at the Rodman Pool. The U.S. Corps of Engineers said that the river will be filled today closing the Ocklawaha to boat traffic for a period of time. Note the mound of dirt at the right of picture. It will be bulldozed into the channel.
(1) The Ocala Star-Banner photo above was taken by Mr. Ray Price* on PERHAPS Sunday, September 29, 1968?
(2) A utility pole is visible just to the left of the Ocklawaha River bridge in the photograph. This utility pole (or its replacement) may still be standing at that same location.
(3) The Supervisor, National Forests in Florida (U.S. Forest Service), has received a copy of this 9-30-1968 Ocala Star-Banner newspaper clipping with its photo plus the link to this webpage. It seems that the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service was not previously aware of this picture--or the roadway bridge that spanned the Ocklawaha River channel.
USACOE "Pertinent Data for [Cross Florida Barge Canal project] Existing Spillways" including Rodman
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Stream-Flow Records
For the Ocklawaha River Just Downstream of Rodman Dam
From September 28, 1968 to October 1, 1968
Data from the old USGS Ocklawaha River "Riverside Landing" stream-flow gage (in operation from 1943-10-11 up to 1969-09-30) that was located just downstream of where Rodman Dam was eventually constructed (and closed on 1968-09-30)--shows that the average "gage height" or "stage" of the Ocklawaha River (elevation above sea level of its surface [water]) was: 5.96 feet on 1968-09-28; 5.93 feet on 1968-09-29; 5.23 feet on 1968-09-30; and 4.81 feet on 1968-10-01.
Since the top of the Rodman Dam SPILLWAY's concrete "crest" structure was built at 6 feet above sea level ("natural ground level" of the floodplain at that location), there probably was NO water discharging through the spillway until enough flooding had occurred sometime after the closure of the earthen dam across the Ocklawaha River's natural channel (shown in the Ocala Star-Banner photo by Ray Price). The water in the upstream "pool" must be high enough to flow-over the "crest" into the tailrace and thence downstream.
"USGS 02244000 OCKLAWAHA R AT RIVERSIDE L NR ORG.SPRINGS, FLA."
SOME ONLINE LINKS TO RELATED 1960's ARCHIVED NEWSPAPER ARTICLES:
Friday, October 1, 1965
"Authority Sought To Build Temporary Bridge Over River"
Friday, November 24, 1967
"Rodman Dam Closing Delayed By Engineers"
Reports a "200-foot-wide gap"
Daytona Beach Morning Journal
Wednesday, September 25, 1968
"Barge Canal In Full Swing In Putnam"
St. Petersburg Times
Tuesday, October 1, 1968
"Dam Is Completed In Cross Florida Barge Canal"
Reports "The 200-foot-wide gap..." & "Plans call for stocking the reservoir with fingerling bass."
Friday, December 27, 1968
"Rodman Pool Filled With Logs"
Reports "the releasing of several thousand fingerling bass"
* Mr. Ray Price [Jr.], former Ocala Star-Banner chief photographer, passed away in 1987
SOME RELATED WEB-PAGES:
WEBPAGE SEARCH KEYWORDS:
Backwater Drown Drowned Flooded Flooding Inundated Inundation
Build Built Closed Closure Completed Completion Constructed Construction
Kirkpatrick Dam Rodman Dam
Ocklawaha River Oklawaha River
Lake Ocklawaha Rodman Pool Rodman Reservoir
September 30, 1968 30 September 1968 9/30/68 9/30/1968 9-30-68 9-30-1968
REFERENCE AS: Nosca, P. 2020. "September 30, 1968: An infamous date for the Ocklawaha River" webpage report. "Ocklawahaman Paul Nosca reports" website. Paul Nosca, Eureka, FL.
Attached below is a readable PDF file of February 11, 2013 letter from the
U.S. Forest Service to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection regarding
Rodman (Kirkpatrick) Dam and the Ocklawaha River.
ALSO attached below is a readable PDF file of the January 01, 1969 USACOE publication
"Water Resources Development by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Florida"
with ONE AERIAL PHOTO that SHOWS BOTH the Ocklawaha River Bridge and the Rodman Spillway
sometime before the closure of the earthen Rodman Dam on September 30, 1968.
This document was discovered by the late Roy R. "Robin" Lewis III on October 12, 2013.
Aerial photo (above) is from
"Water Resources Development by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Florida" report
published by the USACOE in 1969. This picture shows the Ocklawaha River main
channel still free-flowing through a gap in the earthen Rodman Dam. It also shows
the Rodman Spillway without water sometime prior to the closure of the dam on
September 30, 1968.