Friday, September 04, 2009


The pictures my niece emailed of Lock & Dam 1 early
this week at first seemed like some kind of Photoshop
trickery, perpetrated perhaps by Clayton Cavaness –
sitting before his computer screen in a dark office,
stroking his chin, laughing under his breath.

The dam was certainly recognizable in the photos, and
there was the lock in the background, the big rocks
below that middle spillway. I could even see Josie’s
back there in one of them, so I know it was the right
place. All that was missing was a little thing I like to
call the White River.

There was only a trickle of water below the dam, that appeared to be coming from underneath it. A couple of dudes were standing out there fishing, and not even getting their feet wet.

Over the years, I’ve seen the river down low enough that one could walk out across the top of the dam. Have done it myself on occasion. But never so low that the top of the dam was completely dry. Have ya’ll?

What’s up?

I posted the question on Facebook and got some interesting, though unbelievable answers. Consensus was that it had something to do with heavy rains in the spring and a lot of generating going on at the dams upstream. I guess they made more electricity than they had room for, so they had to just shut ‘er down and keep all that water in the lakes. Scuze me? If memory serves me, the definition of a lake has something to do with water coming in someplace and going out someplace else. Did somebody put the stopper in way upstream, keeping the water out of the lake? If not, how does all that water running in there keep from spilling over the dam and finding its way down to Batesville?

No, I think there’s something else going on. They’ve held water back in the lake lots of times. I’ve known that river since 1966, and I’ve never seen it that dry.

Once, when it was very low, Magouyrk’s grandpa told him it burned in half upstream. That makes more sense to me than that phony generator story, Diane! What if there’s a hole in the bottom up there somewhere and all the water’s going underground? It could happen! What if one day we woke up and the river was gone?

I’m fascinated with wondering what might be found in that dry river bed, above the dam, in “Lake Unico”. Somewhere in there are at least three engagement rings I heard stores about years ago. A few motorcycles. An alarming number of fire extinguishers that I probably shouldn’t mention. At least one Abbey Road 8-track with a broken tape. Some personal entertainment items ripped off from those yankee frat boys at Arkansas College who thought it would be a cute idea to string piano wire across the motorcycle trails in the woods, about neck high, to keep some bothersome “townies” from waking them up at all hours with loud pipes. So I heard.

If it didn’t float over the dam, there should be the remains of a big metal cooler full of adult beverages I threw in there very early one Saturday morning at the end of a long night’s detective work Rick Reed and I were conducting – but that’s another story. Possibly a 14 ft. flat bottom boat that an unnamed accomplice (some might guess) and myself stole one night in the slough. Well, let’s say “borrowed”. We took it back to where we found it, but it disappeared shortly after that. I’ve often wondered if maybe we didn’t pull it up on the bank far enough and it broke loose and drifted into the river. But we were in a hurry to get back to my house and sneak in the bedroom window before my mom woke up and found us gone.

I wonder what else is down there. White River Monster?

Let’s hope they turn the faucet back on soon and we never find out. Some things are better left a mystery.

© 2009, Rick Baber


Anonymous said...

Nothing fishy at all. The water is going into the hydro electric plant. It was my understanding the plant would be shut down before they would allow no flow over the dam.

Rick Baber said...

What happens when it goes in there? Doesn't it have to come out somewhere?

Anonymous said...

When you get that thing drained down will you look for for my St. Christopher? I snagged it climbing down the ladder from the lock and it fell in the water. Sometime around 1971.

Anonymous said...

The discharge from the Hydro is below the dam therfore the water bypasses the dam and does not go over it.

Rick Baber said...

Well, shit. That's ugly. They gotta come up with a better way.