FREDERICKTOWN — Knox Lake Dam has been lowered 6 feet in the past few days to accommodate major structural work, which means boat ramps will be unusable for trailered watercraft. That will be the case through the winter and possibly through the spring of 2021, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife.
And Dam Road — providing access to the spillway — will not be accessible to the public during the construction period.
The dam is approximately 60 years old. Knox Lake is a well-known haven for largemouth bass fishing, kayaking, canoeing and motorized boats.
Once the $4.6 million in dam structural work has been completed on the 476-acre lake, the wait will have been well worth it, said Marty Lundquist, an ODW fish management supervisor. The work, taken on by The Beaver Excavating Company of Canton, will be so sound once finished that the dam should be good to go for another 50 or 60 years, he offered.
The dam was not in imminent need of repair due to dangers of any kind, Lundquist said. But it is considered a high priority project by ODW because of the six decades it has gone without substantial work, he said. In that time, it has fallen out of compliance with modern-day dam standards.
That will not be the case by next spring, Lundquist said. Rehabilitation activities include stabilization and resurfacing of the spillway, replacing the riprap on the upstream side of the dam, lake drain control structure improvements and an additional embankment drain. The most time-intensive part of dam improvement will be spillway resurfacing and stabilization, which Lundquist said involves anchoring concrete into bedrock. Multiple holes will be drilled deep enough so that steel pins can be placed in them. They will be topped by a new layer of concrete.
“When it’s done, it will look brand new,” Lundquist said.
Funding for dam improvements comes from a portion of the state gasoline tax received by ODW, he said. The gas tax allows expenditures for projects, such as recreational dams, which allow gasoline motors.
Although the lowered dam level will make trailered watercraft unusable, access will still be available for small watercraft like canoes and kayaks. Shoreline fishing will also be available in existing public access areas. The lower pool will be maintained until construction is completed.