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Yates Mill Marked By Decades of Ups and Downs

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RALEIGH — Wake County's last surviving grist mill is closer to becoming a public park.

As part of the Yates Mill restoration, workers are removing 200 years of sediment from the surrounding pond.

Yates Mill pond has had a lot of ups and downs lately. In the midst of restoration work on the mill in 1996, Hurricane Fran burst the old stone dam and emptied the pond.

It provided a great opportunity to replace the dam and reshape the pond bottom for better flood control. But Hurricanes Dennis and Floyd slowed that work down.

"This is kind of like building a sand castle too close to the waves, absolutely. We have struggled with those two rain events," Tim Maloney of Wake County Parks and Recreation acknowledges.

Maloney is in charge of the pond restoration project for Wake County Parks and Recreation. He says despite the setbacks work is ahead of schedule.

"Overall, we've increased the storage of this pond by about 40,000 cubic yards," he said. "That's what we'll have removed when we're done with this project."

Up to 3 feet of sediment has been removed from the upper reaches of the pond, revealing some old stumps. No one knows how old they are, but one of them will be removed and dated.

Though this will be a public park, it will also continue as an N.C. State University research pond, with new features that will help in various studies.

There are four underwater research berms that extend about 150 feet out into the water area.

The berms will help students do pond research away from the shoreline.

The area will provide areas for fish spawning and aquatic vegetation.

And in just a couple months, all the work could be hidden under the new Yates Mill Pond.

The Yates Mill restoration project is a joint effort between the non-profit Yates Mill Associates, Wake County and N.C. State University.