MILL DAM AND WORKS
I discovered this dam while driving above it on Route 32 to New London a couple of winters ago. Winter is good for seeing things in the woods the trees hide elsetime. It's on a fast, steeply falling stream, and build on a ledge of massive schist, our native rock around these parts. And though it looks to be a dam from this angle, it might not have been. The whole thing is a bit of a puzzle, and I'm pretty good at dissecting old mills and their works.
From this angle, it appears that the wall once crossed the stream, creating a pond above. But observations from above made me question this. Yet how would they have controlled the flow of the water? Most millponds have penstocks and races, manmade flumes with gates that allow for control of the water that drives the wheel as well as bypassing said wheel in times of flood..
I found no traces of races. Or blocks of the penstocks. Sorry, I had to say that. This wall was likely built to hold back some non-ledge blessed earth.
Still, no manmade flume.
Unless the wall was the side of the flume and its streamside wall is no more...
But what was that flat area ahead? Looks like a foundation. Certainly an overflow channel wouldn't go behind a structure there.
The Far Side.
The dam wall stops there, and wasn't knocked down in a flood. The stone is also backed by concrete, which I thought might have come later than the stone construction, but upon further examination, seems to be a part of the stonework. The perfect 90 degree end of the wall shows that it stepped down to a lower wall, the foundation visible to its right.
Looking downstream. No penstock again. Not even a remnant of one. But a nice snag of old trees and branches make for a natural dam. Might have some beaverage in there, though I didn't see any teeth marks when I looked closer.
How's about a little schist, scarecrow?
That's a LOT of schist, ma'am.
Just why there is this concentration of acorns and acorn refuse is not clear to me. There wouldn't be a squirrel nest on the ground, especially this close to the road. No tree above could hold a nest that would have dropped the nuts.
AH! HERE is the flume, race, penstock...
No it isn't. It has no exit for the concentrated water. And the one beyond has no entry...
Like the idea of concentrated water.
What, do you just add...water?
Ah, humans. Give 'em a hole and they'll...
..fill it with old tires.
I decided to investigate from above. This is the sort-of road above the dam.
Again, concrete behind the rockwork. And rots and rots of poison ivory..
Won't come here in summer!
But I get the idea that this 'dam' was more of a way of concentrating the flow towards the lower left of the picture. The walls on either side never met. The one upon which I'm walking ends ahead, and the one across the stream goes at a different angle, including the lower section.
I think it concentrated the water and turned it on an angle.
Or it possible they used the stream without penstocks or races? That the stream itself was the race?
Something existed on the foundation seen in the center of the picture here, and the stream is most concentrated to its right. There is also a wall there.
Perhaps there was a gate in the wall above. If so, they'd need a way of redirecting the water in times of flood, and unless the
large wall to the left is all that remains of an overflow channel, I don't see how it wouldn't just tear the wheel from its moorings.
Maybe that's what happened.
Or maybe those walled enclosures that pretend to be penstocks were there to slow down the water as it raced through them in flood, preventing erosion.
Still, there's no evidence of a built-up race to get the water there. And it would have had to go around the left side of this foundation.
Mought be it did.
I wonder no...