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Missing some water – Drawdown

Earlier in the week, I had seen a posting on Facebook that mentioned the Chester County Water Resources Authority, and how they were going to be lowering the water level of Marsh Creek Lake by 8 feet, so I was more than a little interested in seeing what the effects would be, especially having seen the heavy water flow after hurricane Sandy just two weeks before.

Why is Marsh Creek Lake so low?
Why is Marsh Creek Lake so low?

My niece, Katelyn, had spent the night on a sleep-over, and wanted to joined us on our family walk, especially since she had never been to the dam before.

We parked at the maintenance entrance along Dorlan Mill road, and walked down the long hill, and then onto the trails on the right, heading toward the main emergency spillway to the north.

It was fun watching the kids as they galloped along the trail, and it was easy to see that both Logan and Madison had been down this trail before, while Katelyn was being a little bit more cautious as we moved along the trails.

At the top of the clearing, near the concrete barrier, we got our first glimpses of the drawdown looking into the once marshy area.

Spillway gate and Safety sign
Spillway gate and Safety sign

The full impact of the water loss did not hit us until we were walking across the maintenance road on top of the dam, looking down at 20-40+ feet of a new ‘shoreline’.

We walked down the bank alone side the spillway gate, and at the water’s edge, were very amused to see the safety signs above our heads.

As we walked along the western shoreline, the kids delighted in throwing rocks, and launching weather worn planks into the lake, only to have them come back ashore further down our walk.

During our walk, I ran into a gentlemen and his son, and as we talked, he mentioned that he had heard that at lake had covered up a whole township. I was very surprised to hear this, and having never heard this before, I knew I needed to look this up later.

I caught up with my kids again, and as we walking along the ‘beach’, we saw old worn wood docks and cinder blocks thrown all around.

The new shoreline of Marsh Creek Lake
The new shoreline of Marsh Creek Lake

With a careful eye, I also spotted fishing lures, old bottles, cans, hats, while the ‘rock-hound’ in me, also spotted many beautiful examples of layered sedimentary rocks, along with many of examples of quartz with a deep dull blue color.

The kids being kids, wanted to bring everything home, but we had to limit it to what you could carry home on your own…

I was very surprised, but we now have several new door stoppers in two homes!

[Update – History]

Question – Was there a township covered by Marsh Creek Lake?


There are records dating back to the 1880s of a community known as Millford Mills, a farming village in the Marsh Creek Valley, which provided food, paper and other products to the Chester County area.

During the mid-1950s, the Chester County commissioners commissioned a survey on the Marsh Creek Valley and devised a plan to create a new reservoir to benefit the Uwchlan and surrounding area townships.

Between 1964-1978, the State of Pennsylvania acquired the land and relocated the residents of those remaining in Milford Mills.

Construction began in 1970, with the clearing of structures, trees and other obstacles.

By 1973, the Dam was completed, and then took another three years for the lake to fill.

- Andrew
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