Friday, May 12, 2023

Eureka Lock

It's early April and Ken Nevers and I are riding up to Eureka to see if we can find the Eureka lock which had been constructed in the late 60s before Nixon shut down the Cross Florida Barge Canal construction in 1971. We started at the Silver Springs parking lot and made our way north to Anthony to see what we could of Jumbolair, the flying community where John Travolta lives and used to park his Boeing 707. Well, we saw an impressive gate and there being no bell to ring, not much else. I'll phone ahead next time.

We ride through, Anthony, then Ft McCoy then through Eureka to its 60 foot high, half mile long bridge over the Oklawaha river which was supposed to fill the non existent lake below. Just after the bridge we hang a right u-turn along the old road back to Eureka. Now we're on the bottom of the lake passing under the bridge where we see wooden barriers high on the support columns to protect them from the barges. We don't see a lock but a massive pier sructure indicates it is close by.

I look around and see a locked gate and Ken wheeling his bike through a gap to one side. Clearly the gate is there to prevent automobile access not bicycles. Soon after we see a sign that "trespassers may be reprimanded". Facing a reprimand we continue to ride up a winding gravel trail and see the lock gates and finally the lock. Wow - it's huge - not the Grand Canyon but nevertheless, here in the middle of nowhere - oops - I mean Florida, is the Eureka lock, complete except for water, a huge concrete structure with no purpose. Quite amazing!

It had crossed my mind if the canal had been completed it could have been used as a recreational waterway but it's clearly too expensive to operate and maintain such a huge structure for recreational purposes.

Over to the east of the lock is the dam and a spillway which would have controlled the level of the lake. The west end of the dam was never completed and it is where the Ocklawaha river continues to flow and is popular with anglers and canoers.

We determined this to be an outstanding ride then hopped on our bikes and rode back to Silver Springs.

Click here for Strava route information 

Allan Broadribb

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