Community Roots - Communities
History of Lake Trant
Contributed by Chris Nelson
Lake Trant, one of the larger fresh water lakes in Virginia Beach, was developed in the mid to late 50's by John Trant. The lake rose behind a dam he constructed between his 300-acre farm west of Great Neck Road at Rose Hall across a salt water marsh to an adjacent portion of the Conrad farm. The area of what is now Lake Trant was part of the Lynnhaven River basin and the lake spillway still feeds a large marshwood on the river side of the dam. Coves in the wooded areas along the lake were excellent for home site development and several ancillary canals were dug by Mr. Trant to provide additional waterfront property. In the 1960's, the Trantwood Shores Civic League was organized by the then 63 lakeside property owners with the stated purpose of preservation of the lake.
On June 26, 1974, the original dam built by John Trant failed and a major section of it washed away. At a meeting of the Civic League held shortly thereafter, residents formed the Trantwood Lake Corporation to represent homeowners in the reconstruction and repair of the dam. This included assisting in the coordination of financing with the city, several contractors, and lake residents. Officers of the newly formed corporation were Arthur Motley, president; Stan Tuttle, first vice-president; and Herbert Artis, Joseph Sweeney and John Johnson as second vice-president, secretary, and treasurer, respectively.
Along with reconstruction of the dam, ancillary channels of the lake were dredged to remove silt accumulation from the development of the Trant-Berkshire subdivision. Even though depths of 4 feet or more were dredged to restore these channels to their original condition, continued silt accumulation began rapidly filling channels and headwater areas of the lake once again.
By the mid 1990's, average water depth in a number of channels and the upper lake was less than 2 feet... some areas had as little as 4 inches of water. Algae blooms had become almost an annual occurrence in many of the channels which, in turn, led to algae growth in larger portions of the lake proper. A noticable decline in wildlife was also evident. In the 1980's, it was common to see as many as 120 white egrets roosting in trees around Lake Trant. By 1996, the egret population had declined to a dozen or so. A similar severe reduction occurred in the duck population on the lake despite a number of attempts to raise and release several hundred mallards. In August of 1995, a major fish kill was of such magnitude that it was reported by Channel 3 TV News. Thousands of fish (carp, large-mouth bass, perch, and bream) were destroyed and, in turn, residents lost a valuable side benefit of living on the lake: great fishing.
In the spring of 1996, interest in the Trantwood Lake Corporation was rekindled by residents for the urgent need to preserve what remained of Lake Trant. New corporate officers and board of directors were elected on April 1, 1996. That was a propitious decision for on April 11, 1996, a major breach in the dam spillway occurred and water level dropped 18 inches overnight. It was these newly elected corporate officials who worked with the City on the repair and reconstruction of the dam.
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