Northeast Tarrant

May 23, 2014

Danger still lurks beneath the surface of Lake Grapevine

With low lake levels, machinery that was left behind during the lake’s construction is a hazard for some boats.

For 62 years they have lain dormant, pieces of machinery undisturbed beneath the surface of Lake Grapevine.

A mammoth gravel washer and a towering conveyor, along with a tractor and two dump trucks, were on the lake’s floor when the dam’s gates were closed. Heavy rains fell, unexpectedly filling the lake in weeks. When the lake opened in 1952, the machinery stayed.

“That sucker filled up real quick,” said Bill Griewe, 70, of Fort Worth, a boating enthusiast who did research on the machinery in the 1990s and created a map of the lake. “The contractor simply abandoned it.”

While the gravel washer lies on its side near Twin Coves Park and the vehicles remain in a row near what used to be Denton Creek, the conveyor is believed to be standing, somewhere near the middle of the lake.

“We don’t know how much it has deteriorated over the years,” said Tim Musick, senior park ranger at Lake Grapevine for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the lake.

When the lake level is normal, the top of the conveyor is 14 feet below the surface. But because of the drought, Lake Grapevine is roughly 10 1/2 feet below normal, which means the machinery could be a mere 3 1/2 feet beneath the surface.

“It’s still a hazard, especially for sailboats,” said Musick, explaining that sailboats have deeper keels than say, bass fishing boats. “That’s assuming it’s intact and hasn’t fallen over.”

Buoys have been used to “keep boaters from snagging it, but it’s hard to know exactly where it is now,” said Musick, who is on temporary assignment away from the lake.

No buoys currently mark the area, said Kenneth Myers, the lone park ranger currently working at Lake Grapevine.

“Right now, the shore lines are more hazardous,” Myers said.

Efforts to remove the machinery in the late 1960s and early 1970s were unsuccessful.

There is, however, a plus to the man-made additions to the lake, Musick said.

“I hear it’s a great place for crappie fishing,” he said.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

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