Home » Have you ever…. visited Amwell Lake and the Wing Dam?

Have you ever…. visited Amwell Lake and the Wing Dam?

by Kim Robinson

With winter nearly upon us, I wanted to ask… Have you ever been to the Amwell Lake Wildlife Management Area, or the Lambertville Wing Dam?  These are absolutely two of my favorite spots to visit in the fall – both offer that magnificent combination of foliage and water.

If you have never visited the Amwell Lake Wildlife Management Area, I’m not surprised. People don’t talk about it, it’s not widely advertised, and if you blink while driving, you will miss it. For a 10-acre lake, I don’t think I’ve ever seen more than two people on any trip, yet it’s one of the most incredible spots to visit, sit in a chair, and watch the geese play out their juicy, goosey melodramas on the lake. If you have a fishing license, you can cast a line for trout, largemouth bass, carp, and catfish. The only downside to the ALWMA is the goose poop, and there is a LOT. You will step in it. Repeatedly. Fair warning… do not wear your good shoes.

Now on to the Lambertville Wing dam…..  again, if you have never visited it, you are certainly not alone. Did you know there are actually two wing dams in the Delaware? The second one is about five miles north of the one in Lambertville.  So, what is a wing dam anyway? Well, it’s a dam that juts out from both sides of the river at an angle, channeling the southbound water toward the middle of the river, increasing the current and the volume of water, stabilizing the channel, which is especially helpful in low water situations. The increase in current also helps to clean the bottom of the river.

While US dam projects really took off in the 1820’s, the idea for wing dams originated in 1841 through a board selected by the Secretary of War. Our wing dams in the Delaware are made of concrete, while in some other areas, they are made of rocks. Now, if you do visit the wing dam, be warned – it can be dangerous, especially if the water level in the river is high (been there, done that, almost fell in), and you may want to simply observe it from the shore, especially if you have kids in tow. The water at the middle of the dam is very turbulent. There are rapids and choppy waves – not a great combination, not only for little ones, but for anyone. (A kayaker drowned at this wing dam just last year.) I don’t think I’ve ever taken my  children out on the dam, but I certainly go myself. Why?  Because you can stand on a piece of concrete in the middle of the river and see the expanse of the river in both directions.  It’s magnificent.

The view south from the wing dam.

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