Spoonville Dam is gone!

Spoonville Dam is gone from Tariffville Gorge!  Demolition of this derelict dam, breached since 1955, started on July 9.  By July 31 the dam and its fragments were removed.

Spoonville Dam after removal in end of July

Workers from Gleim Environmental Group, a dam removal company based in Pennsylvania, hammered the concrete structure into fragments that were trucked out of the river and recycled.   When the work was complete, the river channel had been restored to the bedrock ledge that the dam had been built upon.  

With the dam gone, migrating fish from the Atlantic Ocean, such as American shad (our state fish), will be better able to move upstream to reach their historic breeding areas in the Farmington River.   This improvement in fish passage is one step in a multi-part process of restoring the river as a migratory route for shad, alewife, blueback herring, lampreys, and sea-run trout.  Other steps needed are new fish passage facilities at

Rainbow Dam in Windsor, Winchell Smith Dam in Farmington, and the Collinsville Dams in Avon/Burlington/Canton.   But removal of Spoonville dam is already beneficial, as it allows year-round resident fish species to travel upstream or downstream to find the best habitats.People benefit from the removal too, though whitewater paddlers miss the dramatic play feature provided by the breach in the dam.  Swimming and boating in this part of the river are now safer, and the fishing should remain good!  We extend hearty thanks to all our project partners, including Princeton Hydro Engineering, Gleim Environmental Group, CT DEEP, CL&P (the dam owners), and all the members of FRWA whose support makes work like this possible!

Fun facts about Spoonville Dam’s removal

Before removal

Spoonville Dam in early July before removal

  • Date the dam was constructed:  1899, to supply electric power to Hartford
  • First major flood that threatened the dam: 1900
  • Major flood that broke the dam: 1955
  • Size of structure removed (not including fragments):  128 ft long, 25 ft  high, 30 feet thick
  • Amount of concrete taken out of river:  About 2,000 cubic yards
  • Stone brought in to support construction vehicles (and brought back out afterward): 1200 tons
  • Number of American shad migrating up Connecticut River in 2012:  499,132
  • Number of American shad counted in the Farmington River in 2012:  174
  • Estimated number of adult American shad the Farmington River could support:  20,000

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