Mill River Profile

    Hopedale turned out to be a good location for machine shops in the nineteenth century because
    of the drop in the Mill River. Recently my son DJ and I took a walk around the center of town. He
    brought his hand-held GPS, and after we returned home he brought up the walk on Google
    Earth. You can see the route of most of our walk as a black line looping around the Draper area
    and the center of town. Below that is a profile showing change in elevation of the walk from
    beginning to end. At the dam at Freedom Street the elevation was 275 feet above sea level. At
    the bridge that crosses the Mill River between the parking lots, it's 243 feet. The difference of 32
    feet provided a good deal of power for the machinery. Elevations are from Google Earth, not the
    GPS..While this number doesn't show how much the drop was from the top of the dam to the
    outlet below the water wheel, it, together with the profile show that there is quite a drop in the
    area. For most of the second half of the nineteenth century there was another pond and dam
    just a few hundred yards below the dam at Freedom Street. The power it supplied was used by
    the Dutcher Temple Company.

    Gordon Hopper's History of the Mill River states, "Hopedale Machine Company occupied the
    sixth privilege with a 12-foot fall, the next site being occupied by the Dutcher Temple Company
    in Hopedale, probably using a large dam, as it had a 16-foot fall." So there's a total fall in the
    Draper plant area of 28 feet;

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