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A Boon for Big Sandy

Funds will help with work needed to prevent further stream erosion

BRUCETON MILLS — The Town of Bruceton may get some help to fund channel work on  the Big Sandy to prevent further stream bank erosion.

 The dam on the Big Sandy was built nearly 150 years ago so the water could  power a grist mill. The mill is gone, but the scenic spot is popular with anglers and boaters, and is used for concerts,  picnics, weddings and other events.

But “the water coming across that dam is eating  away at the bank there where they have the park at,” Preston County Commissioner Don Smith said. “Every time it floods it just eats it deeper and deeper away to the point now it’s getting hazardous.”  

erosion on the bank of Big Sandy by the bridge

Soon the undercutting will make the pavilion unusable, Smith said. The town has already roped off part of the bank. 

Bruceton has an estimate of $42,500 for the work. Of that, $15,000 is for required permits.

“The price is reasonable,” Smith said.

Smith has been working for several months with the governor’s office to get  funds for the repairs. On Thursday he received word that while no single agency can fund the project, Soil Conservation, the Department of Environmental Protection and other agencies are being asked by the governor’s office, “to see if we can make this happen.”     

Bruceton also asked the  Preston County Commission for financial help, but the commission is holding off on funding requests until it has end of the 2019-2020 fiscal balances. 

Green Rivers of Thomas said in a letter to the town that construction will involve “removing a mid-channel sediment bar” to create a bankfull [the level when water leaves the channel] bench on the river right bank. A thalweg (deep part of the channel) will be built during the removal process. The bankfull bench will be seeded and vegetated with a native riparian buffer.”

The dam itself will not be a part of the project. According to The Dominion Post archives, about $266,000 was spent in 2004 to repair the dam. Of that, $50,000 was local money.

According to the archives, Emanuel Beeghly built the dam in 1873 of wood encased in stone. In 1963, Ward Thomas & Sons restored it. Water from the dam powered a mill, which burnt in the 1950s.

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