Saturday, August 9, 2014

Fifteen-Mile Falls and Comerford Dam: Then and Now

The Waterford History group met Matt Lewis at the TransCanada garage parking lot on the Comerford Dam Road (the Barnet end of Lower Waterford Road) this morning to learn about uses of the area during the construction of the famous Connecticut River dam, starting in 1928 and set into action (by President Hoover, via remote switch) in September 1930.

The construction project required its own rail spur from East Barnet to the dam, and two thousand people or more -- of whom about 1700 lived at the construction site during those years -- took part in building the dam. For a few months, it was actually the largest power-generating dam in the United States (until the Hoover Dam went online). Our meeting and walk, planned and supported by Matt with plenty of maps, blueprint copies, and 1930s documents, reviewed where the "camp" of workers had stood.

Thanks to Matt's planning, we also were able to visit and enter the last standing cabin from those days (now a storage shed and home to many bats). Matt pointed out where the concrete works had been, as well as the original site of the high-voltage service segment of the dam that is now located across the river in New Hampshire. He also noted for us the old road toward the now-water-covered Waterford hamlet of Copenhagen; group members who live in the Waterford Springs part of town were already somewhat familiar with this route. Craig B. shared a photo of the Copenhagen district schoolhouse; Dr. C. E. Harris's history of town also says there was a sawmill in Copenhagen.

Other topics during and after the hike included when the planning for the dams that would cover Fifteen-Mile Falls began. Here is a snippet from Electrical World, October 21, 1909 (p. 1009):
LITTLETON, N. H.—Carl A. Ross, promoter of the power project at Fifteen-Mile Falls, on the Connecticut River, is reported to have sold his interests to Massachusetts capitalists, who are already making plans for the development of three large power plants, by which it is estimated that about 5000 hp would be generated. It is understood that work will commence on the plant next spring. Carl A. Ross will have charge of the project.

Plans for upcoming Waterford History meetings: August, guest speakers Garret Nelson (Lyndon State College library director) and Marjorie Strong (Vermont Historical Society librarian). September, pulling together our archives; there are also plans for a display of pre-archaeology materials at the library at the end of September.  October, geology of the region, with possible guest geologist. November-January, winter break. February, consolidating information about Copenhagen.

1 comment:

  1. Important note: The Copenhagen school photo shown here is NOT Waterford's, but Barnet's, from Wells's Barnet town history. More to come on this.