(4.3) HISTORY - September 30, 1968: An Infamous Date for the Ocklawaha River

September 30, 1968:


for the

Ocklawaha River

September 30, 1968

An INFAMOUS Date for Florida's Ocklawaha River


It is now 52 years since RODMAN DAM was closed across Florida's OCKLAWAHA RIVER

An Information, Opinion, Photos, & Sources Report

Compiled by Ocklawahaman Paul Nosca

With the assistance of Captain Erika Ritter & the late Roy R. "Robin" Lewis III

The featured 30 September 1968 newspaper clipping was discovered on 25 August 2013

By Captain Erika Ritter

The 01 January 1969 "Water Resources Development by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Florida"

publication shown in the scanned PDF file

attachment far below was discovered on 12 October 2013

By the late Roy R. "Robin" Lewis III

Created: 26 August 2013

Last Revised: 29 September 2020

FIRST POSTED TO THE INTERNET -- on a different webpage -- by Ocklawahaman Paul Nosca: 30 September 2006

When it was only 38 years since RODMAN DAM was closed across Florida's OCKLAWAHA RIVER

This webpage shall be revised from time to time for accuracy and better grammar

or as additional pertinent information is obtained!

"The 30 September 1968 completion of Rodman Dam caused the loss of 21 river miles of free-flowing riverine ecosystem. Florida's peninsula was blessed by the Creator with thousands of lakes but very few swift-flowing streams of any considerable length. The 'pre-Rodman Dam' 56-mile long 'Silver-Ocklawaha River' was unique in this state by virtue of having one of the world's greatest-flow 1st magnitude artesian spring groups (73 degree F Silver Springs) as its supreme headwaters with unimpeded access for fish and other aquatic life--located more than 50 miles above tidewater influence."

"Let us leave no bit of useful information uncollected, unstudied, or unused in our shared work

for the restoration to free-flowing again of Florida's 56-mile Silver and Ocklawaha River system."


For many years Ocklawahaman Paul Nosca has diligently and extensively searched for and collected Ocklawaha River related information from available governmental and private archives of documents or photos, both online and/or "hardcopy." The photograph (shown below) by Mr. Ray Price from the Monday, September 30, 1968 Ocala Star-Banner newspaper clipping is--as far as Ocklawahaman Paul Nosca knows--the only known picture of the Ocklawaha River mainstream channel still free-flowing (under a roadway bridge) through the [reportedly at least 200-foot-wide] gap in the earthen dike just before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE) closed Rodman Dam on 30 September 1968. It is a downstream-looking snapshot of the Ocklawaha River taken just upstream of Rodman’s earthen dam. Off to the left (but out of sight in this photo) would have been Rodman's familiar spillway structure built of concrete and metal. Beyond the right edge of this scene would have been the uplands of the Ocala National Forest. The Ocklawaha River's crooked course has officially marked the northern (and western) boundaries of the Ocala National Forest properties since 1938.

Why has this historic photograph been buried-away for so many years, presumably hidden from the view of river restoration advocates? And by whom? Ocklawahaman Paul Nosca now offers to all (until someone forces me not to) this maybe one of a kind look at the way the Ocklawaha River was just before the 9/30/1968 completion of Rodman Dam. Thank you very much to Mr. Ray Price and the Ocala Star-Banner newspaper (Ocala, FL) for recording this sad piece of Ocklawaha history. By the way, Monday, September 30, 2015 was the 47th anniversary of this real Florida tragedy.

The roadway bridge in the picture was probably well constructed as workers with heavy equipment most likely used it to cross the river from time to time. Examining the snapshot proportionally appears to show that the concrete bridge supports are spaced about 40 feet apart because we know that the "crown" of the earthen dam is 28 feet above sea level while the "stage" of the river back then was between 5 and 6 feet above sea level. Would there be any logical reason to destroy this bridge when the bulldozers started pushing fill dirt to close the gap? This bridge possibly would have helped to stabilize the earth and rocks that were used for the closure of Rodman Dam (Kirkpatrick Dam). Maybe it could be conjectured that this roadway bridge is buried inside the dam just waiting for careful excavation by U.S. Forest Service equipment to make it useable once more for (perhaps much less expensive than previously thought) Ocklawaha River restoration to free-flowing again? In another photo (further below) is the USACOE engineering plan for Rodman Dam. Does the symbol on the plan at that Ocklawaha River channel closure mean anything?

NOTE: Click-on photos to enlarge them!


Ocala, Florida, Monday, September 30, 1968

(Photo by Ray Price)

Last View Of The Old Channel

The above view shows the old channel of the Ocklawaha River at the Rodman Pool. The U.S. Corps of Engineers said that the river will be filled today closing the Ocklawaha to boat traffic for a period of time. Note the mound of dirt at the right of picture. It will be bulldozed into the channel.

Ocklawahaman NOTES:

(1) The Ocala Star-Banner photo above was taken by Mr. Ray Price* on PERHAPS Sunday, September 29, 1968?

(2) A utility pole is visible just to the left of the Ocklawaha River bridge in the photograph. This utility pole (or its replacement) may still be standing at that same location.

(3) The Supervisor, National Forests in Florida (U.S. Forest Service), has received a copy of this 9-30-1968 Ocala Star-Banner newspaper clipping with its photo plus the link to this webpage. It seems that the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service was not previously aware of this picture--or the roadway bridge that spanned the Ocklawaha River channel.

USACOE "Pertinent Data for [Cross Florida Barge Canal project] Existing Spillways" including Rodman

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Stream-Flow Records

For the Ocklawaha River Just Downstream of Rodman Dam

From September 28, 1968 to October 1, 1968

Data from the old USGS Ocklawaha River "Riverside Landing" stream-flow gage (in operation from 1943-10-11 up to 1969-09-30) that was located just downstream of where Rodman Dam was eventually constructed (and closed on 1968-09-30)--shows that the average "gage height" or "stage" of the Ocklawaha River (elevation above sea level of its surface [water]) was: 5.96 feet on 1968-09-28; 5.93 feet on 1968-09-29; 5.23 feet on 1968-09-30; and 4.81 feet on 1968-10-01.

Since the top of the Rodman Dam SPILLWAY's concrete "crest" structure was built at 6 feet above sea level ("natural ground level" of the floodplain at that location), there probably was NO water discharging through the spillway until enough flooding had occurred sometime after the closure of the earthen dam across the Ocklawaha River's natural channel (shown in the Ocala Star-Banner photo by Ray Price). The water in the upstream "pool" must be high enough to flow-over the "crest" into the tailrace and thence downstream.




Ocala Star-Banner

Friday, October 1, 1965

"Authority Sought To Build Temporary Bridge Over River"


Ocala Star-Banner

Friday, November 24, 1967

"Rodman Dam Closing Delayed By Engineers"

Reports a "200-foot-wide gap"


Daytona Beach Morning Journal

Wednesday, September 25, 1968

"Barge Canal In Full Swing In Putnam"


St. Petersburg Times

Tuesday, October 1, 1968

"Dam Is Completed In Cross Florida Barge Canal"

Reports "The 200-foot-wide gap..." & "Plans call for stocking the reservoir with fingerling bass."


Ocala Star-Banner

Friday, December 27, 1968

"Rodman Pool Filled With Logs"

Reports "the releasing of several thousand fingerling bass"


* Mr. Ray Price [Jr.], former Ocala Star-Banner chief photographer, passed away in 1987



















Backwater Drown Drowned Flooded Flooding Inundated Inundation

Build Built Closed Closure Completed Completion Constructed Construction

Kirkpatrick Dam Rodman Dam

Ocklawaha River Oklawaha River

Lake Ocklawaha Rodman Pool Rodman Reservoir

September 30, 1968 30 September 1968 9/30/68 9/30/1968 9-30-68 9-30-1968

REFERENCE AS: Nosca, P. 2020. "September 30, 1968: An infamous date for the Ocklawaha River" webpage report. "Ocklawahaman Paul Nosca reports" website. Paul Nosca, Eureka, FL.


Attached below is a readable PDF file of February 11, 2013 letter from the

U.S. Forest Service to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection regarding

Rodman (Kirkpatrick) Dam and the Ocklawaha River.

ALSO attached below is a readable PDF file of the January 01, 1969 USACOE publication

"Water Resources Development by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Florida"

with ONE AERIAL PHOTO that SHOWS BOTH the Ocklawaha River Bridge and the Rodman Spillway

sometime before the closure of the earthen Rodman Dam on September 30, 1968.

This document was discovered by the late Roy R. "Robin" Lewis III on October 12, 2013.

Aerial photo (above) is from

"Water Resources Development by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Florida" report

published by the USACOE in 1969. This picture shows the Ocklawaha River main

channel still free-flowing through a gap in the earthen Rodman Dam. It also shows

the Rodman Spillway without water sometime prior to the closure of the dam on

September 30, 1968.

Email: ocklawahaman1@gmail.com