Sunday, November 28, 2010

Exploring the old Manville Mill - November 27th

With the holiday, things were pretty busy last weekend, but I was able to get out for a couple of hours of paddling on Saturday.

I thought I would do a little park and play in the rapids below the Manville Dam, but I got bored and decided to explore the foundation of the old Manville Mill instead. The Manville Mill was built in 1878 and was one of the largest mills of its day. In this side view, you can see the flywheels and raceways built into the foundation.

Here’s a picture of the Manville Mill complex as it appeared in the early 1950’s. You can see the Manville Dam in the foreground, and a large section of the mill extending over the river. By this time, the Manville Mill was the largest textile mill in the US with over 5,00 employees.

This is a picture of the Manville Mill during the massive flooding caused by Hurricane Diane in 1955. The first floor of the mill is under water, and the center span over the river has collapsed.

Two weeks later, repairs were underway when a fire started in the 1878 section of the mill. With the sprinkler system disabled due to flood damage, the fire spread quickly.

Here is the mill after the fire. The remaining structures were later demolished leaving only the foundation.

I paddled down to the far end of the foundation, and checked out one of the old raceways that still runs under the foundation.  There are six in total, but most of them are hided behind weeds and bushes.

I climbed up these back stairs into what was the old mill.

At this level, I am actually on the old mill floor.  You can see one of the old turbine shafts ahead.

Another shot of the old turbine shaft with a tree growing up from the raceway below. Concrete construction indicates that this was a later addition.

One of the original granite-lined flywheel shafts from the 1878 mill. Don’t fall in there – it’s a good 20 feet to the bottom.

Another view of the raceway below the foundation.

Historic pictures from the Woonsocket Harris Public Library

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ashton to Lonsdale - November 23rd

I had the day off yesterday, and was able to spend a couple of hours doing the run from Ashton down to Lonsdale.  The river was low (2 ft., 500 cfs on the Woonsocket gage), but it was still fun. 

Blackstone River - Ashton to Lonsdale from Erik Eckilson on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Contoocook - Peterborough to Bennington - November 13th

Its interesting to watch a trip come together. It usually starts off as chatter on the web and by email. Eventually a consensus starts to form, a location is picked, and people sign on. Before you know it, you’re out on the river for a great day of paddling. That’s how it worked with yesterday’s trip to the Contoocook River.

The Contoocook, a tributary of the Merrimack River, is located in south/central NH and has some nice flatwater and whitewater paddling. The most popular whitewater section runs from Hillsboro to Henniker - I’d like to try it sometime. There’s also a nice flatwater section from Covered Bridge in Contoocook down to Broad Cove, and another 6-7 mile poling section between Jaffrey and Peterborough.

On this trip, we decided to pole the section from Peterborough to Bennington. Our original plan was to put in at the library in Peterborough center, and paddle down to the covered bridge over the Powder Mill Pond. After looking at the original put in site in Peterborough, we decided to move the put in a couple of miles downstream to the North Village Dam. The run would still be about 7 miles.

Our trip up was slightly delayed because of car troubles, but we still met Tommy and Jim at the put in around 9:30. We ran the shuttle, and were on the river by 10:00. We had 6 boats (Mike, Chuck, Tommy, Jeff, Jim and me). Level was perfect – 2 ft, 100 cfs on the Peterborough gage. After playing around at the dam, we headed downstream. Not a lot of features on this section of the river, but that was OK. We knew we would be taking it easy.

For the first half of the trip, the river twisted and turned through woods and fields. A nice current and gravel bottom made it easy to pole. For the second half of the trip, the river opened up.  The current slowed and the water deepened as we approached the Powder Mill Pond.

We got off the river about 4:00, got everyone back to their cars, and found our way to Harlow’s Pub in Peterborough Center for a couple of beers and something too eat. Another great day on the river.

My Pictures
Peterborough Gage
Powder Mill Pond from

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween on the Piscat - October 30th

Had a good time Saturday on the Piscataquog in Goffstown, NH. We had a group of 7 (2 canoes – Erik and Jeff, and 5 kayaks – Andy, Tom Jr., Tom Sr., Bob and Paul). I think the river was a little lower than last year – 5.5’ on the Goffstown gage. It was definitely crowded – anyone who stopped to surf ran the risk of getting run over by downstream paddlers. I ran over Tom Sr., and got run over trying to surf at the Toilet Bowl. No swims for me this year – or anyone else. We obviously weren’t trying hard enough.

My Pictures
Last Year’s Video
River Description form American Whitewater