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. (The profile is done with a vertical exaggeration.) 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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