- After the fish ladder and elevator were installed on the north end of the dam in the 1980s, its character was already compromised.
- The dam, although in a Historic District, was not individually listed
- The dam's historical significance is as a piece of engineering, not as an architectural landmark.
I've found myself conflicted on this issue since it first surfaced. There are certainly downsides and benefits to keeping the existing dam or replacing it. While I feel it's often critical, especially in a city like Lowell, to maintain historical integrity, we cannot completely reverse course after the mistakes we've made in the past and ban all progress just for the sake of banning it. In an age of escalating energy prices, if Enel is right and their changes will not further endanger houses in Pawtucketville (an argument many residents feel is completely ludicrous, and their points are worthy of very serious consideration), increasing the amount of renewable energy we produce is a noble goal and worthy of consideration. Also, Enel has every right to turn as much of a profit as they can - of course, without stepping on the toes of the little people of Lowell, thousands of miles away from Corporate Headquarters.
However, while listening to impassioned park representatives and regular Lowellians talk about the history of the dam and the way it has worked for over 150 years, the whole time fighting to be heard over the spring flow rate of the Merrimack (currently about 20,000 cubic feet per second [cfs]), my mind was made up - Lowell is right, the foreign-owned energy company is wrong. The trivial amount of extra energy this will generate does not translate into giving up a major part of our heritage. After all, as was pointed out, these falls are why Lowell was built in the first place, and the archaic pin-and-flashboard setup is our heritage.
So, after the presentation, I went over to the Pawtucket Gatehouse, then I got started home. I had walked, and running late as usual, I only had a chance to take pictures on the way back. One of my favorite things about travelling on foot: the more you want to be on time, the faster you can go. There's no traffic to make you later and later. I made what Google considers a 22 minute walk in 15 minutes!
I went down Pawtucket Street to Merrimack Street, having taken Market/Salem on my way there to save a minute or two.
Photos after the jumpJuly of 2007.
Rest of the photos I took here:
And as a first for this blog, a (shaky, camera-phone) video!