Hopedale History
December 1, 2009
No. 145
Mill River

Hopedale in November   

Revival of the G&U Railroad – Worcester Telegram article. (Thanks to John LaPoint for sending this.)

Every two weeks I send these stories out to about 220 of you, divided into 23 groups. It would be easier to send to a smaller number of groups, with more in each, but it seems that if I did, some would be blocked as spam. Since I put them on my Hopedale website anyway, I thought I’d try not sending them by email for a while and see how that works. If you’d like to read them, go to http://www.hope1842.com/hhistemailmenu.html at the beginning and the middle of each month. I'll be checking the site statistics to see if this works.  

I received more than the usual number of replies and comments on the November 15 story. Barbara Burke remembers being one of the 12,000 at the Red Sox-Yankees game in Douglas. “
I was 17 and my next door neighbors, Carl and Eunice Porter invited me to go as I used to babysit their young sons. Carl worked at the Whitin Machine and I think they got special deal on the tickets to the celebration.”

As to the question about the caboose house of Overdale Parkway, Dave Atkinson knew a bit about it, since it had been the home of his aunt and uncle. He passed the question on to a relative and I received the following: “
During the depression, Sam Yanco worked for the G & U Railroad along with Fred Philpot (who was Fannie's Uncle). Sam, his wife Fannie, and daughter Carlia bought a caboose from the G & U Railroad and Fred and Sam pulled it home using a Desoto and placed it up on land that Fannie and Sam owned on Saltbox Hill. Sam set it on a rock foundation, hand dug a water well, and hand dug a cesspool. Sam, Fannie and Carlia lived in it. Fannie was the daughter to Howell Neally of Hopedale. This information provided by Paul Moroney, Grandson of Sam and Fannie, and son to Carlia.” Ellen Alves also responded to the question. She remembered the people who lived at 7 Overdale after the Yancos - Axel and Elsie Naylor.

On another question, Kathi Wright checked with Roland Boucher and found that yes, the Union Church was one of the buildings in town heated by steam from Drapers. Buster Wright had some information on the boxcar house of South Main Street. He remembers Edwin and Edna (Grammie) Aldrich living there.

I recently asked my cousin, Regina Byrne DelVecchio, to write some memories of what life was like for her family when they lived on a little farm in Hopedale in the 1940s. She got together with her sisters and put together some great memories.
Click here to read them.

Thanks very much to John Bevilaqua for allowing me to link to his site search engine. From the homepage of my Hopedale site, you can now search for Spindleville, George Otis Draper, Hopedale Pond, or whatever, and instantly find what you're looking for.


Here is a short version of Gordon Hopper's article on the Mill River. Click here for the complete story.

Mill River Remains A Important Asset To Milford, Hopedale

By Gordon E. Hopper

The Mill River follows a southerly course from its point of origin through Hopkinton, Milford, Hopedale, Mendon, Blackstone and Woonsocket, RI. From there it runs to the tidewater at Pawtucket and Providence.

The river starts somewhere under Lake Maspenock (aka North Pond) in Hopkinton and forms its outlet at the Milford dam. Around 1880, the height at this dam was determined as 452 feet and 9 inches above the Atlantic Ocean tidewater at Providence.

Before the river leaves Milford it falls 136 feet and 9 inches reaching a height of 316 feet above tidewater. That is about 8 feet and 3 inches higher than the Charles River where it leaves Milford.
There were eleven mill sites on the Mill River in the Milford-Hopedale area at that time, six of which were in use. The first three northernmost sites were not occupied and they lowered the river by 33 feet.

The fourth dam where a miller named Fisk once operated a grist and sawmill had an 11-foot fall. There was a six-foot fall at the so-called “City” (the shallow pond by Route 140) which was idle. Hopedale Machine Company (which later became the Draper Company) occupied the sixth privilege with a 12-foot fall, the next site being occupied by the Dutcher Temple Company in Hopedale, (the “Lower Pond, also in the Draper plant area) probably using a large dam, as it had a 16-foot fall.
Samuel Walker’s gristmill with a 9-foot fall occupied the eighth site. (The must have been the mill just a little downstream from the bridge at Thwing Street, which was later run by Almon Thwing.) The ninth was at Spindleville with a drop of 11 feet. The two remaining sites had a drop of about 13 feet.

In 1667, the early Mendon authorities provided for the erection of their first corn mill on the Lewis B. Gaskill property where Mill River left Milford. Benjamin Albee or Alby, was engaged to maintain the mill for the convenience of the public on a piece of land that was granted to him. It is believed that he built the mill, but it, along with most all of the buildings built by Mendon’s first settlers, were burned during King Phillips’s War.

In 1708, a road was laid out from the iron works in Mendon to Dedham. The iron works probably was a forge owned by Jonathan Richardson on the Mill River and this road probably is the present Bellingham Street.

In 1753, there was a gristmill located on the Mill River in Mendon owned by a Quaker named James Cargill. From him it passed to Seth Kelly and was known as Kelly’s Mill. Although not verified it is possible that a sawmill, three or four cotton mill, and a machine shop did operate in Mendon on the river.

Water levels of Lake Maspenock and a small mill pond on West Street at the Milford-Hopedale town line, and Hopedale Pond, are raised or lowered as the industrial needs of the Draper Division require, or as rainfall conditions dictate. The dam at Lake Maspenock in Milford, owned and maintained by the Draper Division, is in first class condition. Without doubt it is the longest in the Mill River network of dams, being 400 to 500 feet long.

The last dam north of the Draper Division is at the plant itself. It is a concrete dam, with rollway and spillway located at the southern outlet of Hopedale Pond. The approximately 30-40 foot long dam and spillway section utilizes a flashboard and is located under the Freedom Street bridge. A long rollway extends from the dam to either side of Hopedale Pond. The spillway extends from the dam to a nearby building of the Draper complex. Water is channeled under the plant and continues south as the Mill River. There is a network of pipes leading from the bottom of the spillway into the mill.

As the Mill river flows south, it passes the old Westcott Mills in Spindleville where it was once utilized, through Mendon and Blackstone where industries long ago flourished along its shores, and finally it empties into the Atlantic Ocean via the tidewater at Pawtucket and Providence, Rhode Island. 
Milford Daily News, October 17, 1974.

Hopedale History Email Menu                     HOME