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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

McGoldrick Dam Removal Project
Ashuelot River, Hinsdale NH
History of the Dam

In accordance with the National Historic Preservation Act, a study was conducted regarding the history of the dam and its surroundings prior to dam removal. The study revealed that the original dam was constructed in 1828. This timber crib dam impounded water that was directed into a 15-foot wide, half-mile long power canal that was equipped with two headgates. The canal, which still exists, was built of earth, natural fieldstone and concrete. It supplied water, as needed, through a series of lateral branch canals, flumes, head races, and penstocks to a number of individual manufacturing companies along the river in the Town of Hinsdale.

Beginning in 1832, the canal powered up to eight manufacturing facilities, including an edge tool shop, a wooden box factory, an iron foundry, the J.R. Holman machine shop, a paper mill, a woolen mill, a chisel shop, and the Granite State Mowing Machine Company. The presence of the dam and the canal allowed the Town of Hinsdale to grow from an agricultural village to a small, but characteristic, New England manufacturing town. The J.R. Holman Machine Co. shop boasted the development of the first automobile which is now on display at the Smithsonian Institute. From the years of 1828 to 1950, the canal and flume system supported at least 25 different companies manufacturing at least a dozen different kinds of products.

Photo of dam and power canal
The dam and the beginning of the associated half-mile long power canal.
Photo: NHDES Dam Bureau

workings for one of the power canal's two headgates
The workings for one of the power canal’s two headgates.
Photo: NHDES Dam Bureau

NH Department of Environmental Services | 29 Hazen Drive | PO Box 95 | Concord, NH 03302-0095
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