CLEARFIELD – Temporary repairs have been completed on a portion of the R. Dudley Tonkin Memorial Timber Dam, also known as the Raftsmen’s Memorial Dam, in Clearfield Borough.
With the repairs done, borough crew members closed the dam’s gate system Friday afternoon. As a result, it will reestablish the normal water levels of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.
According to Borough Operations Manager Leslie Stott, an approximate 60-foot section of the dam broke off from the main structure and it was carried downstream. It was discovered Sept. 11, 2016.
Due to the damage to the dam, Stott said its gate was opened to ease the pressure and to lower the water level. It also permitted the borough engineer and workers to inspect the damage.
She said the borough’s engineer, Stiffler, McGraw and Associates, was able to obtain the proper permitting for the repair work last November. However, by then it was snow season and too cold to have borough workers in the water, which postponed the project.
The borough spent the months to follow working to secure the materials to make the repairs to the dam, which is over 40 years old.
According to Stott, Forcey Lumber assisted with research regarding lumber and availability. The lumber was purchased from Robbins Lumber, which made special accommodations to cut large beams.
The bolt system, which was to secure the lumber, was purchased through Duncan Sales and the metal was supplied and fabricated by TD Fabricating.
“The materials used for the repairs were not normal materials, and our suppliers went above and beyond in order for us to get what we needed,” Stott said.
She went on to say that earlier this summer, crews were unable to complete the repairs because the river level was too high. Once it dropped for the construction to begin, the Lezzer and Benson families were very cooperative and permitted use of their parking lots.
“The borough crews went to work and did a phenomenal job,” she said. “The repairs were done within a week.” Crews were assisted by “a few anonymous volunteers,” and the dam passed final inspection Thursday.
Stott said borough officials aren’t sure how long the temporary repairs to the dam will last. However, she said they hope it will for at least a couple years in order to have a capital campaign to raise funds for a more permanent repair.
The dam was built to promote fishing and recreation but is not used for flood control. The dam was also a memorial to honor the lumber heritage of the region.
“Clearfield is a river town. It’s a great importance to our economy, our recreation and beauty of downtown Clearfield. With the borough’s investment in the riverwalk and downtown, we wanted our river back,” Stott said.