Loop 2: Station 6
Lakes are not natural in most Piedmont settings. Because our rivers transport so much sediment, all impoundments (manmade lakes) eventually fill with sediment.
Since Lake Conestee Dam was constructed circa1892, the lake has filled, slowly at first, but more rapidly since about 1940. The illustrations above, based on aerial photographs taken over the decades, show the East Bay decreasing in size as the river delta advances steadily down the lake toward the dam, which appears at the bottom of each frame together with Conestee Mill. Eventually the lake will become completely filled with sediment except for the river channel.
This dynamic process is nature’s way of reclaiming the land. As sediment accumulates, open water areas become dominated by wetland vegetation. Then, as sediment accretes above the water line in those areas, the emergent wetlands give way to bottomland hardwood forests.
Lake Conestee was 135 acres in area in 1943. Where is it now?
In the sense that a bathtub full of sediment is still a bathtub, the lake is still here. During the 1940s to present, rapid development produced huge amounts of sediment in the Reedy River watershed, accelerating the filling of the lake. Notably, the development of Greenville Army Air Base and Interstate 85 produced large volumes of sediment in the watershed before there were regulations and construction practices to control runoff. The area of water impounded by the dam is today only about 18 acres.
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