The Great Stone Dam, Lawrence (in 2008)

Author: Anonymous (not verified)

 The pictures of the Merrimack River and the Great Stone Dam, built in 1845 by the Essex Company, were taken on Saturday, August 9, 2008. 

The Essex Company was chartered in 1845 explicitly to build a dam and canals on the Merrimack River for the purpose of providing waterpower for textile mills. Implicitly, the directors planned to sell land on either side of the river for planned mills, homes for workers and managers, stores, churches, schools and local government. It was also created to build mills and machinery on contract. The directors of the Essex Company included the interlocked families (Lawrences, Lowells, Appletons, Jacksons and many others) who controlled most of the New England textile industry, who were influential in the early development of the railroad in New England, and who were largely responsible for the growth of the major institutions and cityscape of Boston. 

The dam over the Merrimack River, at the time it was completed in 1848, was the largest in the world and remains in excellent condition today because of the innovative engineering and the earliest use, for projects like this, of hydraulic cement injected in the spaces made by the granite rubble that forms the foundation of the dam. 

In these recent photographs~ The force of the water volume over the granite stone dam was extraordinary. The only thing missing in the images is the sound of the roar of the falls! It was quite a sight. In the following pictures notice the depth levels of water as it flows over the flash boards at the top of the dam; the height of the river at the base of the railroad bridge; the wave action at the river's edge and, so beautifully, the variety of lights and shadows created by river, bridge and sky.


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