Not Your Typical Cleanup


American Rivers’ National River Cleanup™ offers a variety of support to registered river cleanup organizers.

Generally, river cleanups involve walking along a shoreline or paddling in boats to remove typical debris like bottles, food containers, and packaging.

But in the case of the Friends of the Patapsco Valley State Park cleanup—this trash isn’t typical! Volunteers and garbage bags were replaced by tow trucks and dump trucks.

The group is cleaning up the large debris that was uncovered by the removal of the Simkins Dam in the Patapsco River in Maryland.

Some of the removed items are:

  • a machine, similar to a lathe, with a large cutting disk and concrete base;
  • a boiler tank of heavy gauge steel about 7′ long by 4′ diameter full of sand;
  • a brick pumphouse about 6′ x 8′ x 7′ high that had fallen into the river;
  • the remains of a couple of old concrete storm and gas pipes; and
  • a 20′ steel I beam below the Ellicott City bridge.

After years of being fragmented by four different dams, the Patapsco River is now on its way to running free with the most recent removal of the Simkins Dam.

Dam removal offers a new life to rivers. A healthy free flowing river can increase property values, boost recreational opportunities, attract tourists, reduce water pollution, and protect people and property from flooding.

Oftentimes these restoration projects can reveal trash and other debris that has been buried in the dam’s impoundment for decades.

In fact, a popular urban legend whispered throughout the Patapsco Valley is the story of an old bank safe washed away during Hurricane Agnes, rumored to be buried somewhere in the Patapsco.

Friends of the Patapsco Valley State Park, an integral partner in the restoration effort on the Patapsco, has been inventorying a lot of junk uncovered by the removal of the Simkins Dam and singlehandedly spearheaded an effort to get it out of the river. Their efforts go a long way to making this area more attractive and, more importantly, also makes the river safer for paddlers and swimmers.

Find more information about American Rivers’ dam removals and National River Cleanup™.