A step-by-step look at the Hammel Woods dam removal

Here's a mostly bird's-eye view of the project from start to finish


Construction projects tend to generate a significant amount of interest from the public — especially grown men — and that definitely was the case with the Hammel Woods dam removal and modification project in Shorewood. 

From people stopping on Jefferson Street and blowing past barricades to watch or pleading with us on social media to provide more updates than we did, it seemed everyone wanted to get a glimpse of the action. That action moved quickly. 

The removal project, funded by the Lower DuPage River Watershed Coalition, began in July with an estimated completion date of October, but it wrapped up a month early. We were there every step of the way to document the process. 

Here’s a look back.

The dam as it sat prior to the removal project. (Photo by Chad Merda)

The first step was to install a cofferdam to stop the flow of the river around the worksite. (Photo by Chad Merda)

The cofferdam had metal frames for support. (Photo by Chad Merda)

The dam removal was done in two stages, with crews first working on the east side of the river. (Photo by Chad Merda)

Tarps were placed over the metal frames and secured on the riverbed with sandbags. The water inside the cofferdam was then pumped out. (Photo by Chad Merda)

The dam was then exposed and crews had a safe and dry working environment. (Photo by Chad Merda)

It was then time to get an excavator in there to get to work. (Photo by Chad Merda)

A hydraulic breaker on the end of an excavator was needed to chip away at the dam. (Photo by Chad Merda)

The dam was constructed of limestone, concrete and rebar. (Photo by Chad Merda)

The excavator worked from the center point of the dam to the shore, breaking it out piece by piece. (Photo by Chad Merda)

By the time the dam on the east side had been knocked out, work on the west side of the river had begun. (Photo by Chad Merda)

Large boulders were placed along the shoreline. (Photo by Anthony Schalk)

The rocks help create riffles in the water, which will oxygenate it. (Photo by Chad Merda)

Once attention turned to the west side of the river, the work included removing the concrete overlook connected to the dam. (Photo by Chad Merda)

More work from the hydraulic breaker. (Photo by Chad Merda)

The view of the west side of the river with the dam and concrete overlook removed. (Photo by Chad Merda)

As part of the project, an ADA-accessible kayak launch was installed south of where the dam had been located. (Photo by Chad Merda)

Now complete, kayakers can pass through this area of Hammel Woods without having to portage. (Photo by Anthony Schalk)

Smaller rocks were placed along the shoreline. (Photo by Anthony Schalk)

An aerial view of the area where the dam once sat. (Photo by Chad Merda)


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