The Augusta Canal has many identities and one of them isn't too pretty.
Goodrich Street, a public road that leads to the city pumping station, has been attracting its share of illegal dumping, drug use and generally unsavory activity in recent months.
It got to a point last week where Sheriff Ronnie Strength did the one thing that might help: the road was gated and closed to all vehicles.
Blocked are all the cars operated by drunks, litterers and those who deal in illicit activities or materials.
Also blocked are people who enjoy fishing in the shoals, and who usually park at the pumping station. Kayakers who launch in that area are out of luck too.
The decision to block the road was a joint one, with concurrence from the Canal Authority, the Augusta Utilities Department and law enforcement.
Canal authority spokeswoman Rebecca Rogers said the closure will be indefinite -- until a better way can be found and if an alternative can be reached to allow vehicle access and prevent the bad element from staining a landmark most people respect and enjoy.
OXYGEN RUMOR? A few weeks ago, the Corps of Engineers fired up its long awaited oxygen system near Thurmond Lake's Modoc ramp.
The device, which cost $11 million to develop and build, includes a cryogenic plant on the shore from which liquid oxygenb is pumped through miles of submerged, perforated lines.
As the diffusors release the oxygen in the deep, cold water, the area becomes attractive to baitfish and the open-water striped bass that eat them.
I was asked twice recently about rumors the fishing over the diffusors has been so good that the corps is mulling a plan to rope off the area to keep it from being overfished.
I asked Joyce McDonald at the corps' district office in Savannah, Ga., who assured me there will be no restrictions at the site.
"This is truly a rumor," she said. "The Corps has no plans to limit access to area; in fact we've improved access to the area. We do ask anglers not to anchor in the area while fishing to avoid damaging the system. "
Improved access includes a newly-paved Gilchrist Ferry Road and vast improvements to the Modoc 7 Boat Ramp, which was upgraded last year.
The Modoc 7 Boat Ramp offers 23 paved parking spots each 40 feet long and extra wide, two deep-water boat ramp lanes, a new courtesy dock, security lighting, and a restroom.
BAAB HONORED: Most outdoor minded Augustans recognize Bill Baab as the author of The Augusta Chronicle 's popular fishing report that runs each Friday.
What some of you might not know is that he is also one of the region's best experts on antique bottles, which he has collected for more than 40 years.
On June 24, he was inducted into the Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors Hall of Fame during the group's national show. Baab joined the federation in 1996. He and his wife, Bea, self-published three books on Augusta bottles.
He retired as outdoor editor and sports writer from The Chronicle in 2000 after 36 years.