Once upon a time, Middlefield had many prosperous woolen mills on Factory Brook, along lower Town Hill Rd. After a severe downpour in July of 1874, those mills ceased to exist.
Three reservoirs provided water for the mills, that were along the brook. The Lower Reservoir was the biggest (100 acres) at the intersection of Town Hill and Reservoir Rds. The next one farther up was called, appropriately enough, the Upper Reservoir (25 acres) The final impoundment was Goose Pond (10 acres), very close to the Peru border.
Yesterday the WMHH’S had the pleasure of a guided tour led by DCR’s Alec Gilman, to the site of these 3 washed out dams. We started at a field on Skyline Trail, that is across the street from a house owned by Harry Meacham. On that day, Harry looked out across the field from his home, and could see something was amiss with Factory Brook (no trees back them). Harry took of in the direction of Goose Pond, and found that the stone dam had collapsed. Running back to warn people down stream, he passed the earthen dam at the Upper Reservoir, which was starting to collapse.
Harry and two other men were able to warn the inhabitants and workers of lower Factory Brook about the oncoming flood, which by now had breached the biggest dam at Lower Reservoir, (135 total acres of water!) Thanks to Meachams and others heroics, there was no loss of life! The many mills along lower Factory Brook did not fare as well. The stone arch railroad bridge at the bottom of the brook in Bancroft also was damaged, as well as more downstream in the Westfield River. Woolen production in Middlefield never recovered. Write up courtesy of Tom Hoffman.
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