Much has been written of late in The Landmark, but not in this column, about the removal of Hoffman Dam. I have read with interest all the stories and letters and still have not formulated an opinion as to whether it was a good thing or not.
While I would like to have seen the money spent channeled another way, at least it got rid of the debris that was constantly lodged at the dam. I remember a picnic bench that seemed to be there for eons. That’s an exaggeration, of course. One thing I know for sure – the area as we all have known it will never look the same again.
The Hoffman Dam and Hoffman Tower were named for George Hoffman. George Hoffman Sr. came to Lyons in1864 and purchased the Yorkshire Tavern. His son, also named George, was born in 1855. I’m not sure at what point in local history the dam and tower were officially named Hoffman Dam and Tower, but even with the dam removed, people will still refer to it by name. Some things will never change.
Thinking of the area, many things come to mind: seeing people fishing and remembering quite a bit of discussion about fishing on the Riverside side, which was not encouraged. Many times there were suds billowing down the Des Plaines River as if someone up stream had dumped tons of detergent in the water.
There were occasional boaters taking advantage of the waterway, but one instance remains fixed in my mind when I cross the bridge: the loss of two high school friends.
John Holland and Clarion Rogeness were members of the class of 1960 at Riverside-Brookfield High School but never got to graduate with their class. The two were athletes and well-liked. Holland in particular seemed to be “all everything” from athletics to the classroom and a leader on and off the field. Two bright futures were swept away that day as they attempted to go over the dam a second time after a first completion. It was not to be.
They are gone but not forgotten.
So with the dam removed, another page will be added to the history of Riverside and Lyons and the debates will continue. Only time will tell if it was a good thing or not, but one thing I do know, the fishermen will still be there and adventuresome boaters will float on the Des Plaines.
Some things will not change and that’s a good thing.