Just before the recent spring blizzard, the Town Highway Department, Water Department, Conservation Administrator, MA Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) and Stantec Consulting were busy removing a severely deteriorating dam structure that threatened to collapse and block the water of Cold Brook as it flows to Saquatucket Harbor in Harwich Port. It’s thought that the dam became a hybrid structure of sorts from the 1800s through the early 1900s because of a potential carding machine mill once at the site (Cold Brook is also known as Carding Mill Brook or Carding Machine Brook), an old road developed at the same location before Hoyt Road was built, and a cranberry flume gate installed on the upstream side to hold back water as well as maybe block salt water to the bogs upstream.
Over the decades, the structure was no longer used for any of the above and slowly, steadily degraded because of the stream scouring away the foundation day by day, year by year. At the time of a site visit by HCT, DER, Stantec and the Town with a common goal of assessing the dam’s condition, we discovered that the eroded condition became so tenuous that only a 6-inch sized chunk of mortar was holding up tons of slab on the west wall of the dam. The Selectmen acted swiftly declaring the situation an emergency, which expedited the removal process. And their decision came at a good time because the west wall actually collapsed on its own just days before the dam removal.
See the before and after images below.
Click here to watch a 3-minute time-lapse video provided by MA DER’s Franz Ingelfinger that shows the removal process from start to finish.