April 2001 Flood

Woodley DamThe Woodley Dam looks in sound structural condition. However the Apple River was over-flowing the area above and under the concrete slab creating a fissure 15 feet long and 6 feet wide - nearly half the thickness of the earthen structure at the top.

Woodley Dam top viewThe area near the water wheel was where the Apple found it's new route flowing across the black top trail. The area is now closed to public access.

The normal spillways are behind the building. Sandbags combined with falling water levels saved the dam.

Dam ready to give way
Thursday, April 26, 2001
WXCE Radio News

The Woodley Dam on the Apple River in Polk County is on the verge of collapse. The U-S Highway 8 bridge just north of Amery -- and adjacent to the dam -- has been closed as precaution. Water levels behind dams in Amery and the town of Black Brook, further downstream on the Apple River, have been lowered to handle the increased flow, should the dam give way, according to Polk County Sheriff Sheriff Ann Hraychuck.

Woodley Dam drawdown ordered
Thursday, May 17, 2001
WXCE Radio News

The D-N-R has ordered the drawdown of the Woodley Dam on the Apple River in Polk County to protect the life, health and property of residents in the area. The impoundment will remain drawn down until the dam is repaired. The owners of the dam also have the option of abandoning the dam, but any repair or abandonement must be done in accordance with state statutes.

Friday, December 05, 2003
WXCE Radio News

Workers began the process of demolishing the former Country Dam restaurant and nightclub Wednesday, carefully removing anything of possible value. Buberl (Byue-berl) Recycling of Somerset is removing three structures on the old Woodley property at US Highway 8 and County Rood H on the Apple River. The contract does not include any removal or repair of the dam, but does include the former powerhouse that sits atop the dam. Short-Elliot-Hendricksen engineer Kevin Accola said they will need to use a crane and derrick to remove the powerhouse, which is one of the reasons the contract cost Polk County so much money. The nearly $70,000 for razing the Woodley building is coming from federal Brownfields grant money, and Accola said the property should be completely clear of structures by the beginning of the year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

At their Tuesday meeting, the Polk County Board approved an application for a $50,000 grant to defer a portion of the cost to remove the Woodley dam on the Apple River. That damn has been condemned by the DNR after a flood two years ago, and it was technically supposed to have been removed this year.

The estimated overall cost of the project is $175-to-$225,000, of which the County would be responsible for the difference. There are still some issues to be worked out on the dam removal, including restoring the stream bed, and how to replace an existing snowmobile trail that crosses the Apple River over the dam. The earliest the dam would be removed is 2005.

Monday, February 09, 2004
WXCE Radio

Remains of the Woodley Country Dam on February 15, 2004.
The Woodley/Riddler Dam and snowmobile crossing on February 15, 2004 viewed from the US Highway 8 bridge. The power house and generators have been removed.

The days are numbered for the old Woodley Dam on the Apple River, after the Polk County Property Committee approved the solicitation of bids and plans for that structure's removal. According to Property director Deb Peterson, the DNR has authorized grants to help with the county's removal of the structure, and it must be removed before the property can be sold, due to liability questions. The current dam is not the original one, but is in fact the third such dam. The current dam was built by Fred Riddler decades ago, and used as a grist mill and provided some of the first rural electrification in the area. It was at one time a fully-functioning hydroelectric power plant, providing electricity to the Country Dam nightclub, campground, motel, and several private homes in the area along US Highway 8 and County Road H. The dam last made power about ten years ago, when the bar owner was cut off from power companies. When fully intact, the dam created a pond that included two man-made islands, and had a slide for inner-tubers to start a trek down the Apple River. Polk County received the property in a long-running series of court cases that included a state appeals court ruling, and finally a cash settlement with the heirs of James Woodley, giving the county the rights to sell the property. However, due to liability, the dam must be removed before the county can sell the property for development, or whatever the future plans entail. Demolition of the old Country Dam nightclub is almost complete, and was scheduled to be completed last month.

Monday, February 23, 2004
WXCE Radio News

The former nightclub known as the Country Dam is now no more. The last pieces of the many decades-old nightclub, bar and grille on Highway 8 and County Road H was demolished late last week - almost two months after it was supposed to have been completed. Polk County received the property two years ago after a long-running tax dispute, after the late owner, James Woodley, passed away. Before it was Woodley's, Fred Riddler operated the business as Riddler's Mill. The future of the property and remaining dam is still uncertain. Several people involved with the issue would like to see the property as a county park, while others have mentioned using it as a DOT rest area, and others are pressing to sell the property outright, for use as development. Plans are beginning to take place to remove the dam, which was breeched in a spring 2001 flood, and has since been condemned by the DNR.

Friday, December 10, 2004
WXCE Radio

The days of the old Country Dam – officially known as the Woodley Dam – are officially numbered. On Tuesday, an engineer outlined the process of removing that Apple River structure, which is expected to begin this coming spring. The Woodley Dam is the third such structure to hold back the Apple in that location. Dean Stenes of Ayres & Associates Engineering gave the latest info to the Polk County Property Committee, and also outlined how they plan to replace the snowmobile bridge that currently runs over the dam. The engineering firm will finalize specifications for the dam removal, as well as the details behind the coffer dams that will divert the river while the old dam is removed and the piers are poured for the new snowmobile bridge. The stream bed will also be restored to what is thought to be the way it was prior to the original dam’s construction, back in the early 1900s. Polk County’s Highway Committee may also assist in the dam removal, although that is yet to be determined. The Woodley Dam was also one of the last remaining private hydroelectric dams in the nation, and was one of just of a handful of US hydro dams that avoided federal regulations, due to being “grandfathered.” The dam has been the property of Polk County for the past several years since a decade of lawsuits and tax lien attempts were finally settled with the heirs of the late Jim Woodley. The old dam’s removal is the final step in refurbishing the old Country Dam property, although it is unclear what will happen to the property once the dam is removed. It may be turned into a public park, or sold for development.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005
WXCE Radio

Just as the Woodley Dam was about to be removed, concerns over replacing the existing snowmobile bridge that runs across that former hydroelectric dam have surfaced in he past few weeks. Members of the Apple River Association appeared before the Polk County Property Committee on Monday in a special meeting to address whether that bridge was fully necessary. According to Parks Director Deb Peterson, engineers who have been working on the dam removal project will reconsider their options, and will look at ways to possibly make that renewed Apple River bed more of a ‘free-flowing, natural’ stream. The S-E-H engineers will then bring those options back to the Property Committee for possible reconsideration. Bids for that dam removal project were solicited and opened in he past two weeks, but have not been formally accepted. It is unclear if the latest issues will affect the old dam’s removal or not. There will also be further discussion on whether or not to go forward on a new bridge to replace the existing snowmobile bridge that crosses the dam. Reportedly, there may be other river-crossing options further upstream.

Thursday, July 07, 2005
WXCE Radio

After years of litigation over who owned the property, and numerous disputes with state officials after a spring flood and breach four years ago, the impending removal of the old Woodley Hydroelectric Dam has once again been delayed. The Polk County Property Committee moved to reject all of the more than half-dozen bids they received on the dam’s removal and streambed restoration. The reasons for the rejected proposal are generally to attempt to restore that area of the Apple River to as natural and wild as possible - something the first engineering process apparently did not achieve. Last month, just as those removal bids and accompanying snowmobile bridge were about to be approved, members of the Apple River Association raised objections to the way the streambed would look after the dam was removed, and the Property Committee agreed, sending the entire removal and restoration process back to zero. According to Parks Director Debbie Peterson, S-E-H Engineers will redesign and re-engineer the entire process, and that decision means the entire process will likely cost more money. Two grants for removal of the dam are not jeopardized by the delays, but conservation officials are asking that the removal process be delayed from a spring removal, so as not to interfere with fish spawning. That means the existing dam will likely be right where it is for now, and possibly for another year.

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