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.


     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

    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

    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.

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The Mill River, upstream from Hopedale Pond.