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scouting trip report - Deep 15-501 to old 1 6/24/02

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  • jimdepree
    Ferguson posts a minimum of 200 cfs and 1.6 feet at the Moncure gage for this section. This morning it was 160, 1.4 and dropping but how bad can it be anyway.
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 26, 2004
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      Ferguson posts a minimum of 200 cfs and 1.6 feet at the Moncure gage
      for this section. This morning it was 160, 1.4 and dropping but how
      bad can it be anyway. We got in at the 15/501 bridge after checking
      out Little Buffalo Creek and finding it too low to bother with.
      There was an island under the bridge that neither of us had spotted
      before. That should have told us something. First drop about a mile
      down the river was uneventful. After that, the river was flat with
      no current until the Rocky junction about 4 miles downstream. We
      were able to paddle a half mile up the Rocky, again flat, until we
      ran up against a pretty solid rock shelf with a little water coming
      through it. We paddled back to the junction and parked on an island
      for lunch. Further down the river we encountered Cleggs and Bryants
      falls, both minimally passable with much poling ourselves off of
      rocks but no actual exitting the boat for a walk. Jim McDermott kept
      saying that the rapids would be a lot of fun if the water were about
      a foot deeper. We reached Pullens Falls and Lockville, finding the
      water about a foot below the top of the dam with some current going
      through fissures in the dam. The current dam about 15 feet high was
      built about 1920 for the electrical generating plant but there have
      been dams for mills since the 1760's and the canal still being used
      as the sluice for the power plant which still operates downstream
      across from the takeout has been there since the 1850's. Unlike
      other canals and locks lower down on the Cape Fear which were
      destroyed in a flood in the 1850's this dam continued to be used for
      navigation into the 1870s. Iron ore was brought upstream from mines
      at Buckhorn to smelt at the furnace in Endor near the Cumnock coal
      mines that fueled it. This apparently was dependent on high water.
      Going over this shallow river today, it is hard to imagine a steam
      ship pulling ore barges up and down this section of river.

      There is a well canopied channel to river left just upstream of the
      dam. This is closed off at the upstream end but probably gets a flow
      at higher levels. We followed it up to the top spotting a deer, a
      green night heron, and a blue heron along the way. Benner calls the
      dam portage the "most difficult in the East". On river right it
      involves climbing out on steep clay bank then off a cliff and several
      hundred feet over rocks downstream. We found a good smooth takeout
      above the canal on river left just above the canal gate then walked
      several hundred yards past a derelict steam shovel, crossed rusty
      catwalk on the canal gate, and then over the island with a tow path
      to the northern channel below the dam. This sported many shelves and
      two trees which required exitting our boats to pull over but the
      downpour which started upon our entering this stream made the hard
      work a little cooler. Pulled out on river right about 100' upstream
      from the old US 1 bridge. A five foot rat snake was spotted at the
      takeout. The path up to the road here doubles as a drainage channel
      making the climb up more interesting. Checked out Buckhorn Dam and
      42 takeouts on the Cape Fear on the way home. Both are excellent
      with very respectible paved or gravel road surfaces going all the way
      down to the water.

      As noted above this was a scouting trip. The dam portage may make it
      rather difficult as a club trip although I'm glad I checked it out as
      Lockville has a lot of historical interest (see
      http://www.ncdot.org/planning/pe/ohe/archaeology/chatham/chap5.pdf
      for details, if you don't have high speed go cook dinner or something
      while it's loading).
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