Rodman Reservoir and Rodman Dam
Rodman Dam photo by Doug Engel
The Rodman Reservoir located 15 miles southwest of Palatka, Florida, is an artificial pool created by the Rodman/Kirkpatrick Dam. The earthen dam was part of the halted Cross Florida Barge Canal. It is currently used as a bass fishing area.
Due to successful efforts of environmentalist Marjorie Harris Carr, Florida Defenders of the Environment, and the Environmental Defense Fund, President Richard Nixon halted construction of the canal in 1971, fifty years ago.
Unfortunately, it was not stopped before the Rodman/Kirkpatrick dam was installed and 7500 acres of floodplain forest, twenty springs and miles of the Ocklawaha River destroyed. The destruction continues today with impacts to fish and wildlife, water quality, natural water flow and recreation – upstream to Silver Springs and downstream to the lower St. Johns River and the Atlantic fishery.
410 Rodman Dam Rd., Palatka, FL 32177
Hours: 8 a.m. to Sundown
Schedule: 365 days a year
Amenities: Parking, picnic pavilions, restrooms, potable water, fishing platforms downstream of the dam and spillway, boat ramp below the Rodman Dam, canoe launch on the downstream side of the Dam; Florida Trail runs across the Rodman/Kirkpatrick Dam westward into the Ocala National Forest and eastward 1.4 miles to the Rodman Campground.
Note: Submerged stumps and floating logs are located throughout the Rodman Reservoir. Staying within the marked navigation channels is strongly recommended.
- In the late 1960s, acres of cypress trees were pulverized into the ground by The Army Corps of Engineers’ “Crusher Crawler,” a 22-foot-high, 306-ton amphibious machine to clear the land of the 10,000-acre Rodman Reservoir.
- During drawdown, the stumps of the drowned forest or cypress graveyard are highly visible. These are remnants of the 7,500 acres of floodplain forest that were destroyed.
- The Cypress logs still pop-up in the Rodman Reservoir serving as a hazard to boaters and an on-going maintenance issue and cost as they collect at the dam.
- The natural migratory path for fish and wildlife from the St. Johns and Lower Ocklawaha Rivers to the upper reaches of the Ocklawaha and Silver Springs is blocked by the Rodman/Kirkpatrick Dam. As a result many historic migratory fish and shellfish are rarely seen or absent from the upper reaches of the Ocklawaha and Silver Springs.
- The waters of the dam have submerged 20 springs of the Ocklawaha that can now only be seen during drawdown. Release of those springs and reduced evaporation from the reservoir if the river was breached would generate 150 million gallons a day of natural water flow.
- 2021 marks the 50th Anniversary of the halting of the Cross Florida Barge Canal.
- The Dam is now past its life expectancy and never served its intended purpose.
Food and Provisions: Restaurants in nearby Palatka.