The breaching of the Embrey Dam has allowed the unobstructed migration of fish upstream to their natural spawning grounds. The dam's demolition has also improved the habitats of a wide variety of wildlife on the Rappahannock River. It also provides a safer haven for paddlers, fishermen, and those seeking recreation on the river. Many parties helped with the removal of the dam, including the Friends of the Rappahannock, the City of Fredericksburg, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Warner Rapids, which now flows free at the site of the old dam, has been named in honor of Senator John Warner, who championed this great environmental cause and helped obtain federal funding for removal of the dam. The Rappahannock is now the longest free-flowing river on the East Coast, running 184 miles from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Chesapeake Bay.
"For almost 100 years the Rappahannock River has been holding its breath behind a wall of iron and concrete. Senator John Warner's efforts have allowed the Rappahannock River to breathe free once again. In appreciation of his efforts, the community of paddlers and river users has bestowed upon him their highest honor.
So, let it be known, on behalf of the City of Fredericksburg, the Friends of the Rappahannock, the f & the American Canoe Association, and the community of paddlers, that the new rapid formed at the removal of the dam be known as 'Warner Rapids' and may all your travewls through it be smooth."
Kirk Havens, President
American Canoe Association
July 30, 2005
Before the dam was demolished the Friends of the Rappahannock sponsored fish lifts each spring, carrying spawning fish over the dam. Restored migratory patterns, fish maturation and re-stocking are now helping fish populations rebound.
American shad, Striped bass, Blueback herring, Alewife and American eel can now be found up river once more. These fish can now swim freely in water that had been inaccessible to them for over 150 years. They are important to commercial fisheries and as a food source they link the marine, tidal estuary and non-tidal food chains.
U.S. Senator Warner and State Senator Houck are escorted by Bill Micks in a canoe for a ribbon cutting ceremony July 30, 2005, celebrating the conclusion of the dam removal and dedication of Warner Rapids.
Habitat on the river has been improved for species such as the American Bald Eagle and the Red-bellied Turtle
Senator Warner salutes the crowd before the demolition of the Embrey Dam on February 23, 2004.
Photos courtesy of the Free Lance-Star Publishing Co., and Hal Wiggins.
This panel was created by Troop 994 Scout Cameron Gahres for his Eagle Project, with assistance from the American Canoe Association, the City of Fredericksburg, and W. Scott Howson Designs.