Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Three Rivers

I put in at the top of the big river, another comes in from the west, and another comes in from the east.  To me it geographically makes no sense...two rivers meet and they both end while a third begins.  It's the meaninglessness of naming natural features.  It's as if people were giving names to rivers before knowing where they went and what they connected to.
Yantic River
I head east up the smaller river.  It is a short trip, less than a half hour, until I reach the falls, a cascade through a narrow rock cleft about 35 or 40 feet high.  Ten feet of old stone diversion dam at the top of the cascade converts it to 45 or 50 feet.  The diversion dam channeled water into an old brick mill on the north bank, which itself has been converted into apartments.  It seems a nice place to live, on the banks of a heavily forested river at the base of a cascade.

I return and pass my put in heading up the other river.  It leaves the town behind soon enough and becomes a fairly broad and calm river cutting through the eastern hardwood forest.  This river is more industrial, or I should say, was more industrial.  Arched brick and stone outflow channels show where water was returned to the river after turning the machinery of silenced mills.  Sometimes, all that remains is the outflow tunnels, the mill buildings gone from the landscape. 

Sparse but large boulders in midstream herald the coming of a shallow and swift rock garden, which is passable by watching and carefully keeping to water that is deep enough for a full paddle stroke.

A very large mill appears...looms...on the left bank.  Four or five stories tall and a couple hundred feet long it is roofless and abandoned.  The wall facing the river has tall glass block windows...more than half the wall is glass block windows.  At the base are six outflow tunnels.  I pass by and continue on up to within a couple hundred yards of the Greenville dam.  It is typical of big river dams in Connecticut.  The state still has over 4000 dams. 
Most are small containment structures or seasonal diversion dams to power some mill that operated only when there was enough water.  Of those 4000 dams, only 4 were designed for hydroelectric power.  The Greenville dam runs a small "modern" generator, but it originally diverted water into a side canal that fed mills along the river...turning their machinery by turning water wheels.  That big glass block walled mill had several water wheels inside running its machines. 

The Greenville Dam
Spanning the river, the Greenville dam looks to be no more than 20 ft. high.  The trade off for electricity versus the ecological impact of stopping fish passage is not there. 

On my way out I stop to explore the bank near the mill.  I collect a check writing machine that fell not to far from where it was used. 
I manage to get about 75 feet up into one of outflow tunnels. 
I could poke around in this area some more....must return.

No comments: