Black Rock Dam

The Black Rock Dam is a low head dam in the Schuylkill River. Originally constructed as a stone filled, timber crib dam in the early 19th century by the Schuylkill Navigation Company, the dam created a slack water pool for the Schuylkill Navigation System. The dam is a contributing property of the "Schuylkill Navigation Canal, Oakes Reach Section" registered historic district. The dam is located between Phoenixville and Mont Clare in southeastern Pennsylvania, USA.

The original dam structure is "L" shaped. There is the usual perpendicular crossing creating the low head spillway. However the majority of the structure is a long forebay for the canal, parallel to the left bank. The forebay has two spillways and ends with the structure of Lock 60. Lock 60 is the guard lock of the Oakes Canal portion of the Navigation. In 1828 a lock was added to the right side of the dam as part of the Chester County Canal addition to the Navigation, which provided water power and later transport to Phoenixville. In 1869 this canal was ruined by a flood.

In 1902 three hydroelectric generators were added to the forebay by the Reading Traction Company to power a local trolley. While the generators have been removed, the dam is still owned by power company, Exelon.

In the later 20th century, the perpendicular section was extended across the end of the forebay, creating a straight bank to bank dam and capping the forebay.

In 2008, as part of a project to restore the migratory American shad to the Schuylkill, a fish ladder was added to the dam on the Chester County side. During construction, remnants of the Chester County Canal feeder lock were uncovered and documented by an archeologist.


 

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