My Sunday column was an update of an earlier report on the migration of herring up the Patapsco River — to places such fish have been unable to swim since before 1906 — after the removal of the Union, Simkins and Bloede dams. Several Baltimoreans have written to me over the years, since I first commented on the merits of removing these old dams, to say they miss them. Dams are appealing to the hiker’s eye because they look like waterfalls. But most of them are no longer needed, and some are downright dangerous.

Bloede Dam during demolition

“I am a lifelong Catonsville resident who still lives near the Patapsco River Valley,” a Sun reader, Michael Alokones, wrote on Friday. “I still spend a great deal of time hiking in the woods there and walking along the river’s banks. I am also old enough to remember when the Bloede Dam took the life of a Loyola High School student. I was not at all sorry to see the Bloede Dam go. Like you, I wondered whether the great migratory fish would return to the Patapsco and was delighted when I read your first article about “Obama’s Herring.” Those are projects that I like my tax dollars to support. And, like you, they give me hope for my children’s future. In a world of dire forecasts and bad news, articles like yours today give me small glimmers of hope and hope is what we need to keep on going.”

From Maine to Maryland and beyond, the removal of dams has many environmental benefits and, in the case of the Patapsco, the ability of American eels to carry the larvae of freshwater mussels upstream is one of them. You can read about that phenomenon at this link.
There’s one more dam on the Patapsco, in the hamlet of Daniels. I’ll look into the plans for that — whether it’s to stay or go.

A Maryland fisheries biologist surveying for fish where the Bloede Dam used to be, on the Patapsco.

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