Great Public Works then and now | Haskell’s Pond Dam 2018 reconstruction with 1902 construction plans & wild origin story #GloucesterMA

Last month I was fortunate to glimpse the impressive Haskell’s Pond Dam reconstruction orchestrated by Gloucester’s Department of Public Works (DPW). Protecting and managing water utilities can be easy to take for granted. “This not so sleepy dam by Rt. 128 continues to deliver almost 30% of the city’s water,” exclaimed Larry Durkin, City Environmental Engineer. He explained that years ago the DPW team began assessing the city’s water infrastructure and compliance requirements including what would happen during an event storm. Haskell’s Pond Dam needed attention: The reconstruction was projected to cost 2 million (based on the preliminary plans and the recent Babson Reservoir repair). Phase I and II  were contracted out to SumCo Eco Contracting and the estimates were correct. The project cost two million and the work is largely completed thanks to grants and loans from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs (EEA), and the Commonwealth’s Dam and Seawall Program.  DPW Director, Mike Hale, and Larry Durkin concur: “They are fabulous to work with.” Discovery was anticipated. While drilling it was determined that the Haskell Pond Dam was indeed not structurally stable, and a MAJOR fix would be required to bring the dam into compliance. The DPW team is working with the state to fund the critical work of Phase 3.

Until then, take time to enjoy its history. While checking out the 2018  progress, I pulled stories and stats from the Haskell’s Pond Dam original build In 1902. As with today, the dam work was regarded  a model project. State assistance and contracted elements were required then, too. The numerous links among these two century projects are a fascinating delve and described below. The evolving breaking news in 1902 kicked off with a bang, surprising lawsuits (next stop for one could be Supreme Court), and deft leadership. Readers and history buffs will recognize names. (Tarr ancestors were involved; were yours?)

panorama and contemporary photos – Like a mini Walden pond- Haskell’s Pond during Dam reconstruction Gloucester, MA ©c ryan July 7, 2018.  

2018 July 2 Haskells Pond Dam reconstruction Gloucester Massachusetts Department of Public Works directing SumCo_ photograph ©c ryan (1)

FAST STATS 2018 Phase 1 & 2 – $1,928,000

Scope for Phase 1 & 2: Construction of a new concrete spillway chute, concrete repairs, clearing of trees and unwanted vegetation and valve replacement at an earthen embankment dam within the City’s active water supply system, and more (A prior $175,000 grant from the state’s Dam and Seawall Program was awarded to support “engineering, permitting and the development of construction documents”  which established scope for Phase 1)

2018 July 2 Haskells Pond Dam reconstruction Gloucester Massachusetts Department of Public Works directing SumCo_ photograph ©c ryan (7)

Contractor: SumCo Eco Contracting,
Status: largely completed
Mayor: Mayor Romeo Theken
DPW Director: Mike Hale
City Environmental Engineer: Lawrence A. Durkin, P.E.
Project start (historic): 1902
Modern project start: 2013-18; RFP for Phase I issued: March 15, 2017
Total project cost: estimated to be $7 million
Funding Awarded to date: $1,925,000 

  • from State: $1,925,000 – The City has done very well with Grants and Loans from the MA Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs (EEA), and its Dam and Seawall Program, Mike Hale and Larry Durkin concur. “They are fabulous to work with.”
No EEA Grant Loan Comment
1 Design  & permitting grant FY 2016 $175,000 Completed 6/30/16
2 Haskell Phase 1 Construction Grant FY 2017 $500,000 Closed 6/30/17 and City reimbursed
3 Haskell Phase 1 Construction Loan FY 2018 $500,000 Submission by DPW to EEA 7/26/18 for reimbursement
4 Haskell Phase 2 Construction Grant FY 2018 (Applied to Phase 1 change orders) $500,000 Submission by DPW to EEA 7/26/18 for reimbursement
5 Additional FY 2018 EEA, funds applied to Phase 1 change orders $250,000 Submission by DPW to EEA 7/26/18 for reimbursement
6 Haskell Phase 2 Full FY 2019 Grant, to be applied to Phase 3 $500,000 to be realized if Phase 3 goes forward in FY 2019
7 EEA Total to date $1,925,000 $500,000

Phase 3:  Some future phase was anticipated, though obviously impossible to nail down until Phase 1 & 2 were completed. The reconstruction was based on discovery put into works five or more years ago as Durkin and DPW team assessed city’s watersheds. The dam has been deemed unstable and will require a major fix to be compliant. According to Durkin, the scope for Phase 3 will include “a secant concrete wall to be drilled and concrete along the dam crest for its entire length, cored in the bedrock beneath dam for structural stability and a concrete parapet wall tied into the secant wall that provides the necessary containment for the maximum storm as defined by the state” and some exicting ancillary projects I’ll write more about in a future update. Phase 3 is estimated to cost 5 million and DPW is working on grants with the state to ensure that it happens.

Location(s): West Gloucester
Priority:  Mayor Romeo Theken’s Office-City consider water highest priority – this one continues to provide 1/3 of the city’s water

Before / After

before photos courtesy DPW ca.2014  /  after photos ©c ryan 2018




Plate 14 West Gloucester showing Haskell's Pond_from Gloucester MA Dept Public Works archives

Reviewing the ordeal that was constructing the dam– one hundred and six years ago –is a fascinating read, and helped me appreciate the major job it’s been in 2018. The original dam construction was contentious and hence the top news story of 1902 and years prior. While researching its beginnings, I was struck by just how many areas of concern and themes of city governance from 1902 remain relevant in 2018. Here’s a short list: the financial condition of the city (“revaluation”), suitable allocations, considering work on Rogers Street, water costs, heroic solo sails, possible steel bridge over Annisquam, Burnham Field play ground, pros and cons of tourism, disagreement over what is considered sound development, new theater on Main Street, announcing state grants, eminent domain, boundary lines, Gloucester Fresh, cut bridge in bad condition, aiming to keep work in town when possible, Stage Fort Park tributes, environmentally friendly innovations,  sustainability, access and oodles of local politics-  Office of Mayor and City Council, city staff, committees, and commissions.

The excerpts below pertain to Haskell’s pond dam from 1902 Gloucester Daily Times  archives that I pulled from reels at Sawyer Free and transcribed for easy access.  Plans and maps are courtesy of Mike Hale and the Department Public Work team. Links to high resolution versions are provided at the end of the post.

January 4, 1902 – MAYOR FRENCH LOSES: Aldermen Vote to Exonerate Water Commissioners


ed. note: A misleading headline- Mayor French won his 6th election and Cunningham, president of the commission,  “retired”. Change was coming, and soon!

“At the last regular meeting of the board of water commissioners. The only item of business transacted was the adoption of an order exonerating the water commissioners from the charges preferred against them by Mayor French, and the usual votes of thanks were adopted thanking the city clerk and the president of the board for courtesies but the customary vote in relation to the Mayor as omitted. All the members were present, except Aldermen Knowles and Quigley. On motion of Alderman Cole, the reading of the records of the previous meeting was omitted .  The following order introduced by Alderman Andrews and seconded by Alderman McQuin was unanimously adopted: Ordered, that it is the sense of this board that the allege misdoings of the water commissioners as set forth in the communications of His Honor the Mayor, and in consequences of which a full bearing and investigation has been had, have not been sustained, and that said board of water commissioners be exonerated from all the allegations which have been attributed to them… On motion of Alderman McQuin, seconded by Alderman Allen, it was voted that the thanks of the board be extended to the retiring president of the board, John M. Cunningham, …said it had been his good fortune to be a member of the board the past year, and through the kindness of the members was honored with the position of president…He had been at city hall for four years and felt somewhat sorry to go…”

January 6, 1902 – MAYOR FRENCH’S INAUGURAL: aka Policy of Water Commissioners Criticized

“…WATER DEPARTMENT. The water question has been uppermost in the minds of our people for many years. I think it a matter of congratulation that this year we have practically settled the water suit: and while our troubles with the owners of the water plans may be to a great extent over, we now have great and perplexing questions to deal with ourselves.

“I do not agree with the plans and proposals believe that we should have the best men that can be secured for water commissioners, whose purposed should be to act solely for the best interest of the city, free from all personal and political motives. The chairman should be a man of good judgement, strong and fearless, who receives a good salary which would compensate him for his services. The present salaries of the commissioners are not such as should be paid to men fitted for the position. Many important and perplexing questions are liable to arise which require a strong hand and the best judgement. The commissioners should not be secretive or keep their plans and information to themselves, but should freely keep the city council informed of the principal transactions in their department. As it is now conducted it is a separate department makes it contrary (illegible)

I do not see the need of a treasurer in the water department. I have inquired of the cities in the Commonwealth, and the twenty cities heard from, seventeen of them the city treasurer receives the money and pays the bills on proper vouchers of the water commissioners.

I hope an ordinance will be drawn up and passed by the city council which will provide for these changes as I can see no reason why it should be a department by itself, but like all other departments should be considered under the control of city council.

One would have supposed that the commissioners would have notified the city council that they had taken Haskell’s Pond, so-called. The council has never received any official notice, and the only knowledge it has, the members have acquired by hearsay or through the daily papers. Seems to me, courtesy at least would have required that the city council should have notified of so important a matter.

I wish to call your attention for a few moments to the condition of affairs at the pumping station. A few years ago the commissioners decided very wisely I think that a new engine and boilers were required. The boilers were secured and put in operation and proved satisfactory. A new engine was contracted for. The purpose of securing a new engine was in case the old engine should break down the city would have something to depend upon and not be deprived of water. The old engine has been in use about eighteen years with very little repairs, but is now liable to give out at any time, although it may run for several years. A new style engine was decided upon. The contract was drawn up by the city solicitor at the time, providing that no payment should be made until then engine was accepted by the water commissioners and their engineer.

An engine of the same kind as the one now in use could have been placed in the station as it then existed, but in order to put this new engine in position a large and expensive addition was made to the station. The contract price for the new engine was some $15,000. It was placed in position by the company and did not work satisfactorily, and has never been accepted. The company spent a number of months trying to improve it by making various changes, and some time during the first of the present year, they ceased working, and they afterwards brought suit against the city for the contract price of the engine, which suit is still pending.

Since the 7th day of last April (1901), the engine has remained there without any use to the city whatever and I was informed by the chairman of the water commissioners, that the attorney for the company was in town December 27th to see about settlement of the suit. The chairman informed me that the engineer of the commissioners, Mr. Sando, had stated that the engine could be made to work properly for about seven hundred dollars, and that he intended to write the engineer, and if he said it could be serviceable for that amount to make settlement with the company and accept the engine. I should protest in behalf of the city against any such settlement, for it seems to me if it could have been put in working order for this amount of money, the company furnishing the engine would have done this long ago.

In case the old engine should break down and the new be used even for a few days, it would be a practical acceptance and bind the city to pay the amount called for in the contract. I have talked with parties who understand these matters and they tell me the engine is not suitable for the purpose; that it is of no use.

I do not think it meets the approval of the engineer at the station, of Mr. Moran, or even of the chairman of the water commissioners.

In my judgement what should have been done was notify the company long ago to remove the engine and if it had not done so to have it removed and charged the expense to the company. A matter of $15,000 is a large sum of money to throw away, and that the city should have been left for eight or nine months without any means of supplying the city with water in case the old engines should break down is not in my opinion good judgement.

When the water plant was owned by a private corporation the city paid for hydrants and pipes and water for public buildings. All contracts for such purposes long ago expired, yet the city has kept on paying the water board yearly, until the sum of about $10,000 has been paid since 1895; including 1901 it would amount to $85,000, and as the city councils have not been able to appropriate one-half the amount charged for water but have had to put it in the deficit loan yearly, so the different departments have been more or less crippled in order that the water board could keep a good bank account. Now for a few years the water plant will not, in all probability, be self sustaining, and whatever deficit there may be will have to be for by the city and thus the city will pay for whatever water it uses, and when the plant is self sustaining then the city should use the water it needs without charge. When the city owns the (illegible) to pay $15,000 yearly for water while the other departments are crippled for want of money is not a (illegible) action.

The city has issued bonds recently to pay for the plant. Twenty-six thousand dollars yearly on the principal must be paid for thirty years, also interest. Interest the first year will amount to $27,309, then it will be reduced annually $910 until the bonds are paid. It will thus be seen that the principal and interest the first year will amount to $53,300, the second year $52,399, the third year $51,480 and so on, gradually growing less each year. As the water plant earns a larger sum than any of these payments and as these payments grow smaller, it seems that in a few years that the plant should not only be self sustaining but should have a surplus and the city have its water without any charge. The city (illegible) only in case of deficit in the water receipts.

There are many matters which I might speak of which do not seem to require special mention at this time. I might say that the last revision of the ordinance occurred in 1885. Most of the books have disappeared, in various ways, and it was almost impossible to get a printed copy of our ordinances, which were in poor shape and in many cases void and contrary to statue law. Other cities and some public libraries have occasionally sent to us for a copy of our ordinances and it was somewhat humiliating to reply that we had none. This year the ordinances have been revised and adopted by the city council and we hope soon they will be in book form.

…I ask you all to consider very carefully all expenditures, and try and be as economical as possible. For myself, I can say, having been chosen six times as Mayor, I have no present intention of again being a candidate for that office and so shall act in every instance for the best interests of the city, free from influences of every kind, and I shall not hesitate in any case where I think any committee, any person or any commission is not acting for the best interests of the city, to interfere, and shall try to bring about such changes as I think are called for.”

January 28, 1902 – The Rogers Street Extension Hearing (Gloucester Fresh)

The hearing called for by Mayor French was largely attended…On the whole the sentiment is largely in favor of the extension, and the hearing brought out many matters of interest. The concerns of opinion seemed to be that the sum of $100,000 was more than was needed for carrying out the improvement. All favored it, but some of the speakers thought other matters more important such as sewerage, better school accommodations, improvements in the city hall and some plan of action among the managers of our fishing industry to bring back the landing of the fresh fish caught by our fleet and marketing them in this city instead of in Boston…” That same day Mayor French signed the resolution to petition the legislature for permission to borrow $100,000 for the extension

February 7, 1902- 3 to 5: Mr. Homans Refused Confirmation on Water Board

“Mayor French nominated William A. Homans for water commissioner, but the board refused to confirm him by a vote of 3 to 5…that the water department was in rather a bad condition, there being only two members on the board. He had spent considerable time considering a number of names for the vacant positions and had finally decided upon Mr. Homans as the best man for the vacancy. There will be no further nomination. It rests with the board whether the vacancy is filled or not, he (Mayor) had done his duty. “

February 8, 1902 ALL WORK STOPPED. Mayor French Takes summary Measures at Haskell’s Pond. He Says Public Interest Demands It.

“Mayor French has ordered all work stopped at Haskell’s pond for the present at least. He called at the water office this morning and notified the water commissioners, Messrs. Frost and Tarr, that the work over at the pond must cease for the present and they will disobey his mandate at their own peril.

“I have done this,” said Mayor French, “because I believe public interest demands it. I am not satisfied with the way things have been going on over there and that is why I have decided that the work should be stopped. This is the most important undertaking and should be carried on carefully and for the best interests of the city, further than that I have nothing to say at the present time. Perhaps later I may have something interesting to give you on the subject.” 

And no amount of questioning or probing could produce anything further on the subject from the mayor.

Haskell’s pond ever since it was suggested as a water basin, has been a bone of contention, and from present conditions it is liable to remain so to the end of the chapter.

There are not a great many men at work over there now and the number has been very small ever since the investigation when the work was (illegible)

The notification to the commissioners are in the form of communications which are addressed to them personally , and up to 11:30 o’clock were still unopened at the office of the commissioners on Prospect street.”

February 11, 1902 – HASKELL’S POND: Stopping of the Work May Furnish Food For Discussion at meetings of the City Council this evening

“The order of Mayor French to have all work stopped at Haskell’s pond has caused no end of discussion. Haskell’s pond has always been a popular subject for debate in the councils of the city fathers, and has been a cause of trouble and friction ever since it was first spoken of as a possible water basin. (illegible) of the city councilmen propose to ask why the work was stopped. As there are only a very few men engaged at work there and that number largely from the ward eight district, it seems only reasonable to presume that the queries will come from the members of that section of the city. Of course, that is the way the report comes and is not as yet based on fact.

Mayor French may also choose to nominate another water commissioner, that is, he may again nominate Mr. William A. Homans to the place recently made vacant by the resignation of Mr. Cressy.

Mr. P.M. Lougar of ward eight is also a candidate for water commissioner, presumably to fill the place of Commissioner Alphonso Tarr, whose term expires this year. The friends of Mr. Longan made no bones in asserting after the last meeting ____ he was appointed, the Mayor would find it difficult ___ is the reason it is claims, that Mr. Homans was refused confirmation at the meeting of the aldermen Friday evening. It is said that if Mr. Longan is appointed then the aldermen will readily vote to confirm the appointment of Mr. Homans.

At present, there are only two members of the water board, and it is claimed that they have no authority to act until the board is full. At any rate if the two commissioners are divided in opinion upon any undertaking, then it would be difficult for them to carry out any project. The other candidate for water commissioner are Charles H. Richardson and Henry P. Sargent.”

William A. Homans was nominated as water commissioner, and was rejected by a vote of 3 yes and 5 no.

February 12, 1902- MR. HOMANS AGAIN REJECTED: Mayor Will Make No Other Nomination for Water Commissioner

“Mayor French: There will be no further nomination. I want to be fair with the board. There will be no further nomination until the name of Mr. Homans  is confirmed or withdrawn, and no more work done at Haskell’s pond during the year.”

also refused- Loan of $80,000 for Rebuilding Annisquam Bridge

GDT columnist pens “From time to time the building of a steel bridge across the Annisquam river to Wingaersheek Beach has been before the people and received most favorable comment. As a developer of several thousands of acres of real estate for summer residents and thereby bringing money into the city treasury, this bridge would prove an important factor, besides opening up the public an easy access to the many attractions which the beach and the adjoining property afford. The Gloucester correspondent of the Sunday Globe alludes to the subject as follows: “This (steel) bridge scheme across the Annisquam is one that will undoubtedly be seriously considered when the possibilities of property development in that section are taken into consideration. There seems to be no more promising field for an increase of valuation than in this section. In the minds of many this seems a far more likely manner for the city to invest money in this way of improvements than in taking Burnham field section for a play ground at an estimated cost, land damages and all of $60,000. This amount expended in bridging …far more productive especially when many are of the opinion that a few hundred feet of drain pipe and some intelligent engineering will solve the Burnham field problem satisfactorily.” 

ed. note: Both pieces could be Pringle’s pen, and the Burnham Field origin story I’ll save for another post.

March 22, 1902 – MAYOR FRENCH MADE FOUR NOMINATIONS: Aldermen Refuse to Confirm Water Commissioner.

Henry P. Sargent was nominated… and he was rejected.

Charles H. Richardson was nominated…and he was rejected.

J. Warren Wonson was nominated…and he was rejected.

Howard F. Ingersoll was nominated…and he was rejected.


“Resolved, that the thanks of this Board of Water Commissioners be extended to our former president, Mr. Charles C. Cressy for his many courtesies and for the faithful and efficient manner in which he has always performed all the duties which devolved upon him in the five years he served as president. Voted that a copy of this resolution be sent to Mr. Cressy and that a copy be published in the daily paper.”

April 9, 1902 – Councilman Gorman introduced anti-vice resolutions and accused Mayor  French of being in league with crime and lawlessness

By far the most sensational meeting of the year at City hall was the session of the Common Council last evening. Councilman Gorman introduced his anti vice resolutions in which he unreservedly held the mayor responsible for the alleged bad condition of the city and stated in his remarks that the mayor was in league with crime and lawlessness. The board voted to pay the several bills of the board of registrars, but only after a heated argument, with Councilman Gorman alone opposed. Mr. Gorman also contested the bills of Dr. McCabe for treating small pox patients and vaccination and the bill of the Cape Ann pharmacy for medicine. The former was passed and latter two were tabled. Several highway improvement were adopted and a large amount of new business transacted. Not over fifteen spectators were on hand to listen to the sharpest debate and wildest flights of oratory of the season. Councilman Gorman’s resolutions were treated to a vote of indefinite postponement.”

Mayor French: “To the City Council, Gentlemen: I return this order relating to Burnham’s Field without my approval for the following reasons: in the first place, I have not been convinced that it is expedient or advantageous for the city to enter into the real estate business even in a small way; second, considering that we have the $100,000 water extension, the large expenditures at Haskell’s pond, the Rogers street extension and revaluation upon our hands, I think that is all we should undertake at present; third, when the committee sent communications to various cities and towns asking for information in similar cases, the replies received showed that in almost every case the Board of Health was considered the proper authority to apply the remedy…This is a matter that we can attend to without asking help from the legislature. Possibly it might be done differently or better in some other way, but I am satisfied that the board of health should deal with this matter. This board has autocratic power in such cases. If the said board decides this field to be a nuisance, then it has the power and it is its imperative duty to abate the same.”

Councilman Gorman asserts “One year ago this present month I introduced before this honorable body a set of resolutions calling upon the executive department of our city to enforce the laws of the commonwealth of Massachusetts as they have to do with illegal liquor selling, houses of ill fame, gambling and the sale of cigarettes to parties of an age forbidden in the public statute…For a period of thirty days a great amount of good was accomplished and then raiding ceased and the city “as a dog that returneth to his vomit,” went back to the scores of illegal liquor and kitchen barrooms, prostitution and shame, gambling and a defiance of the laws of the land…”

GDT editor “A portion of Councilman Gorman’s remarks are cut from this report as improper for publication.”

Councilman Osborne quipped “I suppose it is one of the penalties of our position that we have to listen to future campaign documents…The remedy it seems to me is simple. It is not necessary for resolutions of this kind to insult the mayor or the police force.”

Councilman Stephens parses and passes the buck “On the other hand I think it is a bad thing for you an dI to say things are white when they are black. I see the names of the mayor and Aldermen McIntire and Cole on the committee on police and I believe they should move in the right direction to prevent the need of resolutions of this kind being introduced in the city council…”

Councilman WaldronI shall vote to postpone those resolutions indefinitely because I think they are simply a farce. That is all they amount to. They bring down the name of our fair city and people who are looking to come here for the summer when they see such things will be led to believe they are taking their own lives in their hand coming here and will stay away.”

Councilman Foster replies to Gorman’s resolutions bemoaning writers: “Councilman Foster- it seems to me that the mere introduction of these resolutions is an insult to the city, and I think in view of that, the gentleman from ward two is justified in his motion because they surely cannot do the city any good. They had a chance last year to do all this. They will do a great deal of harm. They will be printed in the papers of this and other cities, and will hold our fair city up as an object of ridicule which I do not think we should allow. The people of the city of Gloucester should not be made to suffer because Rudyard Kipling , Mrs. Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward and a lot of other writers who come here and find fault from their interviews with some people here of what is going on. I do not think such resolutions should be considered for one moment. I do not think the condition is anywhere near as bad as it is printed. I have lived here all my life, not very long to be sure, and I have seen a little of Gloucester, and I cannot say that I have noticed all that is charged here. I sincerely hope that action on those resolutions will be indefinitely postponed.”


“When asked about the alleged immoral condition of the city, Mayor French replied that as far as he knew everything was very quiet and orderly and there was but little crime. What do you say about the number of reported questionable resorts? was asked. “You’ll have to inquire of Councilman Gorman, as he seems to know much more about the matter than I do…” You know Mr. Gorman is a candidate for Mayor? said Mr. French, “and his boom has been on the wane of late…I have well defined plans. You don’t want to take Mr. Gorman seriously. I understand that it was the filthiest language ever used at City Hall. If that is so, I will not contest with him, but instead give him first place.”  (ouch)

April 13, 1902 – Resolution Regarding Employment of Men at Haskell’s Pond

“…The following resolution by Councilman Osborne was laid on the table:

Whereas, it is currently reported that large numbers of above bodied and worthy citizens of Gloucester have been disappointed in their endeavors to secure employment on the work for preparing and constructing the new water basin at Haskell’s pond, which work is being done by the city under the direction of the board of water commissioners, and

Whereas, the said board of water commissioners and various city officials have from time to time pointed out to this and other city governments that it is a matter of great importance to the city of Gloucester that the work at Haskell’s pond be speedily completed in order that the storage of water for future use and supplementation of the present inadequate supply should be entered upon at the earliest possible date, and

Whereas, the providing of honest labor at fair wages to the greatest number of deserving citizens ought to be the aim of every political community, therefore be it

Resolved, that the city government of the city of Gloucester hereby urges upon the board of water commissioners the desirability of increasing the work at Haskell’s pond so that more men may be employed.”

April 13, 1902 – Two Hundred Men at Work. Water Office Daily Crowded with Applicants (Chairman is now…the Mayor’s nomination, William A. Homans)

“Chairman William A. Homans of the water commissioners informed a Times representative this morning that there were now over 200 men at work at Haskell’s pond. A force of 40 was added to the workmen this morning in addition to the 162 at work last week.

Mr. Homans says this is all the men who can possible be employed there at this time and it will be some time before they will be able to increase the force further.

He says that there was a big crowd of men at the water office this morning seeking employment and he regretted that he was unable to engage any of them. As soon as it was possible to take any more, he will announce the fact through the Daily Times.”

May 10, 1902- Legal Battle is Now on. Three Suits Entered Against the City Over Taking of Haskell’s Pond

“The interesting legal battle which was promised as part for the taking of Haskell’s pond was entered upon today. This morning Sheriff Cronin served upon the city through the proper officials papers in three suits brought by owners of property at Haskell’s pond. The suits are brought by Mary and Alvis P Lufkin, Jonathan M. Richardson and Charles L Knowlton all of Essex. Frank C Richardson Esq., is counsel for the plaintiffs.

This cannot be called the prelude in the Haskell’s pond matter because that occurred when the city entered upon the premises by right of eminent domain and took possession, but it can be termed the first step in the great legal battle which was announced as a certain accompaniment to the first act in this highly interesting play in which the city has assumed the leading role. Other suits are sure to follow and the legal battle promises to be long drawn out and interesting from every stand point.”

May 19, 1902 – Chairman Homans

Chairman Homans of the water board this morning informed a Times representative that such was the intention of the board at the present time. “if it is done, it will mean a saving of fully $20,000 to the city,” said Mr. Homans. “This dam is to be concrete core. While we have men here who fully understand the construction of stone work, I do not know of any one who is competent to undertake such a work as is contemplated, and besides as I said before it will mean a great saving to the city. I think we shall let the building of the dam out by contract and at the meeting this evening will in probability vote to advertise for proposals for this work.”



“Mayor French signified his intent recently of calling a special meeting of the City Council some day this week to visit Haskell’s pond and inspect the work in progress there. He said he forgot to have an order introduced last night at the meeting of the aldemerman to fix the date because of so many other matters and invitation to that effect would be introduced in the common council this evening.”

June 11, 1902 – WILL SAVE $20,000 Proposed Dam at Haskell’s Pond May be Built by Contract- Water Commissioners May So Decide at Tonight’s Meeting

In a recent interview with Mr. William A. Homans, Chairman of the water board, a TIMES representative was given to understand that the commissioners seriously thought of letting out the construction of the dam at Haskell’s pond by contract.

This understanding is confirmed by the possible action of the water commissioners this evening. The board will unless some change of base is decided upon, vote to let this work out by contract.

Chairman Homans of the water board this morning informed a TIMES representative that such was the intention of the board at the present time. “If it is done, it will mean a saving of fully $20.000 to the city,” said Mr. Homans. “This dam is to be concrete core. While we have men here who fully understand the construction of stone work, I do no know of any one who is competent to undertake such a work as is contemplated, and besides as I said before, it will mean a great savings to the city. I think we shall let the building of the dam out by contract and at the meeting this evening will in probability vote to advertise for proposal for the work.

Mayor French was seen by the TIMES representative and informed of the proposed intention of the water commissioners on this matter, but he said it was something over which he had no control. It was wholly in the hands of the water commissioners, and they must use their own judgement in the matter for the best interests of the city and all concerned.”

June 12, 1902 WILL RECEIVE PROPOSALS For Building Proposed Dam at Haskell’s Pond, Commissioners Not Bound to Let It Out at Contract

“As exclusively foreshadowed in the Times yesterday, the water commissioners at their meeting last evening considered the matter of building the dam at Haskell’s pond…

While the commissioners believe that the dam could be built by contract at a saving to the city, yet they realize that the great majority of the voters would like to see the work done by local men, so that the money for labor, which is quite an item, would be circulated here and if it is possible to have the work done in this way at not too great an expense no doubt this plan will be carefully considered by the commissioners.”

June 18, 1902 – The Bid was advertised in the Gloucester Daily Times less than a week later, (and nearly daily  thereafter until close of bid):

“Sealed proposals will be received by the Board of Water Commissioners of the City of Gloucester, county of Essex, State of Massachusetts, up to 12 o’clock, noon, Monday, July 7, 1902, for constructing a dam and all appurtenances thereto, including gate-chamber, gate-house, spill-way, etc., on the line of Haskell’s Brook, in Ward Eight, in the aforesaid city, the envelope bearing the name of the bidder, address and “Proposals for Constructing Dam and Appurtenances”

The approximate quantities are as follows:–

Earth excavation, 3169 cubic yards

Rock excavation, 500 cubic yards

Concrete Masonry, 3426

Puddle Bill for embankments, 37,000 cubic yards

Paving, 2300 square yards

Brick, 39M

Superstructures, etc.

Blank forms of proposal, specifications, etc., may be obtained from the Board of Water Commissioners. Bids will not be considered unless made out on the blank forms of proposal furnished, or if at all informal.

A certified check, drawn on some National Bank, for the sum of one thousand ($1000) dollars, and payable to the Gloucester Water Works, must be delivered to the Board of Water Commissioner’s and accompany each proposal

A bond of twelve thousand ($12,000) dollars will be required for the faithful performance for the contract.

The Board of Water commissioners reserves the right to reject any and all bids.

W.A.Homans, Chair
David O Frost
Alphonso Tarr
H.W. Spooner, Engineer

Nine requests for proposals came in by July 1st. In the end five firms submitted bids with the $1000 deposit.

June 19, 1902 GOOD PROGRESS MADE. Work Accomplished at Haskell’s Pond. Basin Practically prepared. Will be in Readiness to  Store Fall Rains.

“A visitor to Haskell’s pond early in last November would be considerably surprised in visiting the spot today to witness the changes which have been made as it approaches in appearance to that for which the city acquired it, a storage basin for its water supply.

As the work has now progressed so far that the dam construction will be commenced next month, it may not be uninteresting to review what has been done since the city voted to take Haskell’s pond.

The water commissioners took the necessary legal action October 26, 1901 and on the morning of October 30, 1901 Mr. Herman W. Spooner, the engineer of the board, had 89 men at work, all supplied with tools and placed at different designated localities on the easterly side of the pond and the work of actual clearing was commenced.

One division disposed of the small trees under ten inches in diameter, which were out and properly corded, all brush, et., being placed at the edge of the pond to be burned later and all stumps cut flush with the surface of the ground. Another party commenced stone splitting and outing, another attended to the location of wells and vaults, while still another party repaired the roadway leaving from Essex Avenue to the scene of operations.

On November 4 the working force was increased to 135 men and two days later 168 men were at work and later the number ran up to 182.

A permanent headquarters was built for use during construction and designed later to serve as boat and tool house.

A pair of experienced woodsmen was taken from among the laborers and under a competent overseer, felled the larger growth of trees, sawed the logs deemed suitable for timer into convenient lengths and corded the balance. The quarrymen and stone cutters were busily engaged in preparing cut and marked stone monuments, which now form a permanent and well defined boundary of all the property.

The general force was at work cutting brush and trees, piling the former around the bottom of the pond, while the wood from fallen trees was corded and later sold at public auction. The hard wood logs were sold to an Essex party for anchor stocks and the big logs were sent to the mill to be sawed, the lumber bringing a good figure. During the winter, when there was no chance of fire spreading, the big piles of brush were burned and thus disposed of.

The waters in the pond were allowed to escape during the week ending November 20th and upon examination the northerly half of the bottom of the pond was found to have a gravel bottom covered only by a thin layer of decayed leaves, etc.; at the southerly and, on account of the rapid accumulation of water from the four brooks leading into this part o f the pond, no particular examination was made.

The work progressed rapidly and without interruption until about December 1, when on account of the winter weather the force was materially decreased and during the investigation work was entirely suspended.

This was not for long, however, and during the winter the work of burning the brush and getting out logs was continued by a small force.

As soon as spring opened, the work of clearing the basin was continued and the task of preparing the bottom of the basin was begun. Trenches were dug over the bottom connecting , with the main brook thus practically drying the muck a the bottom as far as possible.

The work of properly preparing the bottom was a problem requiring serious consideration, and two good plans were presented by Engineer Spooner, one for removing the muck from the bottom of the pond, the other for draining and covering the bottom with gravel. Both plans were equally satisfactory, but the last named was less expensive.

The latter plan was endorsed by the state board of health and was adopted by the water commission. Excellent gravel for the purpose was found on the sides of the basin and the work of spreading it was begun early in the spring. At the present time 26 acres of basin bottom have been covered to the depth of a foot and only four acres remain to be covered.

The draining trenches were filled with stone and will act at all times as blind drains.

Previous to this all stumps, etc, had been removed from the bottom, so that every bit of vegetable matter is covered by a foot of live gravel. Two gangs of men with a patent stump puller are at work on the sides of the pond removing the stumps so that the basin when flooded will present none of the undesirable features of Dike’s meadow.

There will be work all summer and into the fall at the pond for a small gang of men, as there is yet quite a little to do in the way of removing stumps, clearing the side, burning debris, etc

Work on the main pipe line to the city along Essex Avenue will be begun immediately and this will employ a large force of men. The work on the Annisquam and the Lanesville extension may be commenced this season if there is an opportunity.

The work on the dam at the pond for which bids are advertised will be commenced by July 7 and with the progress made at the basin and the work which will be done by that time the basin will be ready to store water from the fall rains up to the 16 foot mark.

At present 180 men are employed at Haskell’s pond and the entire work is going on rapidly and without the slightest departmental friction. The trenches did good work in draining the muck, leaving it dry, and there is just enough clay in the top spreading of gravel to make the new bottom very smooth, dry and firm.

Already three or four contractors with an eye to submitting bids on the construction of the dam have looked over the ground. They all expressed their willingness to employ local men in the work. One contractor asked if he could get plenty of good help around here. He was shown the men at work on the pond and remarked, “Those are good workers, i would be willing to hire all the good men like them that I could get.”

The expenditures at the pond to June 1 (1902) have been so far as they are obtainable $23,700. Of this amount about $15,800 has been expended for labor and the remaining $7900 for material. The detailed account of the expenditures would be too long to publish and it would take a great deal of time to reach them.”

June 24 CITY’S CLAIM UPHELD: Demurrer in Water Case Sustained by US Court
Case may now go to United States Supreme Court

“Judge Colt in the United States circuit court, at Boston yesterday, sustained a demurrer filed by the city in the case of the Gloucester Water Supply against the city of Gloucester, which was brought to have declared unconstitutional chap. 451 of the acts of 1895 under which the city took the tangible property of the company for the establishment of a municipal water system.

The suit claimed that the act was void because the company’s franchise, good will and earning capacity alleged to be worth $900,000 were excluded by the statute as elements of the value or price to be paid to the city and that it therefore unwarrantly authorized a taking without due process of law. The demurrer was based upon the ground that there was shown to have been no taking in violation of federal constitutional law, and that the decision of the state supreme court was conclusive.

The state supreme court had previously confirmed the report of masters who had fixed the price for the physical property at $576,544.60. The demurrer is because the court believes the case governed by its decision in the Newburyport case.

The counsel for the water company made no argument against the sustaining of the demurrer. The next move of the company, if any, will be to take the case before the United States supreme court for a reversal of the decision sustaining the demurrer and for a hearing on the merits of the case, but whether the company will carry the case still further or will accept the decision as final has not been announced.

RM Morse, LL Scalfe and FL Evans appeared for the company
AE Pillsbury and CA Russell for the city”

June 25, 1902 TOUR OF INSPECTION made by the City Council to Haskell’s Pond – A Model Water Basin, The Bottom Nearly Covered with a Coating of Gravel

“By invitation of the water commissioners, the members of the city council visited Hakell’s pond on a tour of inspection yesterday. The party left the city proper on a special car at 1:30 o’clock and included Mayor French, Aldermen Mcintire, Lothrop, Parsons, McQuin, Barrett and Gillpatrick, President Friend, Coucnilmen Gaffney, Bray, Keith, Pasons, Foster of ward one, Hodgdon, Gorman, Patch, Dunn and Waldron, Water Commissioners Homans, Frost and Tarr, Ex-Water Commissioners Cressy, Daniel Wallace, Samuel Hardy, and Henry McCulluch, Chief Engineer Charles Crowe, Francis Proctor, George H. Procter, Archie J Moore, Wilmot a Reed, Deputy Sheriff William Cronin, City Messenger Fitz McIntosh, Engineer Herman W. Spooner, Superintendent John W. Moran, Clerk of the common Council James R. Jeffery and others.

The party walked from the car to the pond along the road which has been greatly improved since the city took the property. On reaching the pond those who had seen it in its primitive state were much surprised at the great change which has taken place there in a few months.

All along the sides of the hill down the entire stretch of the basin  the trees have been removed. The shrubbery has disappeared and the men numbering 162, were busy in various sections of the pond and from the first point of observation looked like so many specks upon the great surface.

Where the ledges have ben quarried out large square granite blocks were noticed piled up and along the sides of the hills the gravel banking had been invaded to procure material for the gravel with which to cover the bottom of the pond.

Near the head of the basin were noted a series of excavations some 18 and 20 feet deep filled with water which were made in the search for a solid foundation for the proposed dam.

The site for the dam has been selected and staked off and runs almost on a line with the boat house. A drain about 90 inches deep runs along the centre of the basin, conducts the water to the point of drainage, while smaller drains filled in with rocks, through which the water filters, meet this large one, crossing the pond at right angles to it.

The bottom of the basin is muddy for fully two feet. To remove this would mean an enormous expense, so that with the approval of the state board of health it was decided to cover the bottom with this gravel, a full supply of which is procured from the hills on either side.

The bottom of the basin covers an area of something like 25 acres but when flooded the water surface will be about 38 acres and in places the depth of water will be over 30 feet.

After walking over the pond the party inspected the famous boathouse, and then boarding their special car were conducted to the power house, where an inspection of the machine, pumps, etc., was made. Here a fine lunch was served by Caterer Saunders, and the party returned to the city proper about 5:30 o’clock.

The matter of building the dam was discussed. Chairman Homans expressed himself in favor of letting the work out by contract, as he said competent engineers considered the city would thus sav about $15,000-$20,000.

It was estimated that the entire work of fitting the basin for an additional source of water supply would probably reach $350,000*. Up to the first of June $23,700 has been expended and since that time some $7000 had been expended for labor and material.

*ed.note- I’m not sure if this $350,000 ballpark figure is the total for the dam build or entails all associated costs (i.e. monies related to eminent domain just compensation, law suit with the water company and others, city expenditures thus far and projected)

The party was much interested in what they saw in the pond, and expressed themselves as highly pleased with the trip and satisfied that they had made it.

One thing is positive, this pond will furnish the purest of water, which will prove a great desideratum and serve as one great point in keeping Gloucester well to the front as a summer resort as good pure water is a great drawing card to summer visitors.

One interesting feature was the stump pulling in full tide of operation. It was worked by horsepower and it was marvelous to see the great stumps come up from their solid beds where they had reposed for so many years. These stumps are all burned and thus got rid of in the most expedious and economical manner.  It is observed by the most casual observer that this Haskell’s pond is a natural water basin, where a large and pure supply of this great necessity of life can be stored with absolute cleanliness. It is worth one’s while to visit the pond and watch the work as it progresses.”

June 25, 1902 – Narrow Escape City Had Close Call from Shut Off of Water Supply

“Two very bad breaks occurred in the water mains of the city at most important points this afternoon (Magnolia extension and  the main leading from the pumping station to the Bond’s Hill) why “the commissioners are hastening the laying of the other supply pipe to the city”

and from “The Lookout” column: “…A wilful case of water wasting I noticed yesterday afternoon in the midst of the heaviest downpour of rain. The garden hose of a certain householder was running full blast, watering the garden the same time that the rain was doing likewise. It is alright for a person to take a pride in their garden and see that it does not suffer from drought, but it seemed highly superfluous to have the hose turned on yesterday in addition to the rain, which fell in considerable volume.”

June 30, 1902 – WORK STOPPED. Large Force at Haskell’s Pond Finished Saturday. The Dam Next Great Work to be Undertaken.

Monday- “The large force of men at work at Haskell’s pond practically completed all that can be done at the present time at the basin and the entire crops of about 100 men were paid off and were discharged on Saturday.

Probably about a dozen of the day laborers may be still employed for some time clearing around, removing the brush and trimming the sides of the bank on either side. The bottom of the basin has been covered with its coat of gravel and the next great task for the commissioners to undertake is the construction of the dam which is to be let out at contract.

Nine bides for this work had been received up to this morning, one coming all the way from a New Mexico contractor. Others are expected to arrive before the time for closing.

The contract specifies that the dam must be completed and ready for service before the first of November so that the basin may be ready to receive and store the fall and spring rains. Then their will be some more work done on the dam next summer.

The work of laying the pipes from the basin to the pumping station will not be done this summer, because of the road through which the pipes are to be laid will be needed during the construction of the dam to haul the material for the dam.

July 10, 1902 ONLY FIVE BIDS RECEIVED – Twenty Six Contractors Examined Plans and Specifications

The board of water commissioners met last evening and among other things which they were called upon to take action was the proposals for building the dam at Haskell’s pond. The board was in session until midnight and not having (illegible) that time an adjournment was made until 2 o’clock today. Of the twenty six contractors who examined the plans and specifications only five presented proposals to perform the work. And none of the local contractors put in a bid.

The proposals were all carefully examined and this afternoon may be the contract will be awarded.

When seen by a TIMES representative this morning, Chairman Homans of the water board said he had not changed his mind in regard to the construction of the dam by contract. He said that when a local contractor would not undertake to present a proposal it showed that the job was rather a large undertaking and he considered it too large for the water board, without any experiences or knowledge of such things to enter upon. He claimed that even if the water commissioners decided to do the job, it would be necessary to engage a man of vast experience to such work to superintend it.

It was a difficult matter to procure cement and materials at the present time. Fully $15,000 would be required for the purchase of tools which would be of little use to the city afterwards. Councilman Ray S. Friend who was with Mr Homans and the TIMES representative at the time asked what tools were needed which would require such large expenditure.

Mr. Homans replied that they included a stone crusher, roller, not road roller, and a traveller such as is used in large cities in construction of sewers would have to be built the entire length of the basin to convey the gravel from one end to the other as it could never be carted across the basin and then there were other tools, and expensive ones, which would be necessary.”

July 11, 1902  CONTRACT AWARDED Coleman Brothers of Everett to Build Haskell’s Pond Dam – Figures at Present Secret – firm allowed five days to accept the Big Job

“The board of water commissioners  again wrestled with the proposals for the construction of the dam at Haskell’s pond yesterday afternoon and completed their labors by awarding the contract to the firm of Coleman Brothers of Everett.

The commissioners also voted to extend the water pipe to Wheeler’s Point.

Chairman Homans of the water board when seen by the TIMES representative this morning gave out these facts.

“What were the figures Mr. Homans?” inquired the reporter.

Mr. Homans- “They are not to be given out. At least for the present,” noticing the look of surprise on the face of the interrogator, “We reserve the right to reject any and all bids for that and other reasons which you will learn and when we are ready to make them public you’ll see why we do not want to publish the figures at this time. We let out the contract to the firm whom we judged best able to perform the work.”

“Did you get any opinion from the city solicitor in regard to the authority of the board to do certain things?”

Mr Homans – “Well, you see we have awarded the contract.”

“Was there anything in the contract relative to the employment of local men- citizens of Gloucester?”

Mr. Homans- “Nothing except what appeared in the advertisement for the proposals.”

“Was there any conditions as to the hours of employment or pay of the men?”

Mr Homans- “Nothing except as I have said what appeared in the advertisement. Coleman Bros. have five days not including Sunday in which to sign the contract and if they do not they will forfeit $1000. And I do not think they will forfeit that amount.”

July 12, 1902 – CLOSE FIGURING On the Part of Contractors for the Dam at Haskell’s Pond

“The announcement of the awarding of the contract for the construction of the dam at Haskell’s pond by the water commissioners was a fruitful theme of discussion among our citizens yesterday. The fact that the commissioners would not officially announce the figures was the subject of much comment. The correct figures at which the contract was made are $54,100. There was no great difference between the bidders, in fact the bidding was decidedly close. There was just $1600 difference between the highest and lowest bidder of the first three considered and when it is taken into consideration that the job was a large one involving the expenditure as shown by the figures of the successful bidder, it can readily be seen how close the figuring really was. The highest bid was $65,000.

August 15, 1902 – HUSTLING ALONG Work On Haskell’s Pond Dam Progressing Finely

A TIMES representative strolled over to Haskell’s Pond a few afternoons ago just to take a glance and see how the work on the new dam was going on. Leaving the car near the old saw mill, he passed the teams of Contractor Coleman, loaded with cement, on their way from Nauss yards to the pond.

Along the lower road which led to the old pond the camp of the contractor is situated. There is a building in which the teamster lives and near by the portable kitchen and dining rooms. Beyond these are the office of Contractor Coleman and the stables in which 30 horses and mules are cared for. A little farther on the tool house and blacksmith shop are located with a big store house for cement near by.

At the dam site a small army of laborers are at work preparing the bed for the foundation of the earthwork or embankment of the dam. Close at hand are tool boxes a portable stone crushing plant, (illegible ) a portable derrick for trench excavation, and all in use.

All loose rocks and small boulders together with all vegetable matter, muck, etc, are being removed the stone to be crushed and the refuse place in spoil banks. The hoisting engines connected with the two big derricks are being operated by men from Bay View.

The muck from a “pocket” near the southerly toe of the dam is being excavated to hard pan to a depth of nearly 10 feet.

The contractors are continually on the ground and pushing the work rapidly forward.

Along the sides of the reservoir, the stumps are being piled and burned. A gang is working a horse stump puller and another a hand puller while a covering and grubbing gang were also found at work. Near the southern end of the reservoir a small force is engaged in uprooting the stumps with dynamite, this method completely removing the largest stumps much more rapidly than do the mechanical puller.

One of the busiest men seen by the TIMES man was Engineer Spooner of the water department. Everything is under his supervision and he is seeing to it that his excellent contract and specifications are being carried out and that when completed the new dam will be a credit to the contractor the city and himself.”

September 5, 1902

“Field Meeting of Planters Society Held at Stage Fort: Dr. Conant of this City Made Good Suggestion to Mark Place”

September 20, 1902 FOR THE WINTER RAINS: Haskell’s Pond Basin Will Be Ready to Receive Them

“Work on the dam at the Haskell’s pond basin is progressing rapidly as possible under the circumstances. The contract of the water commissioners with Coleman Bros. called for the completion of the dam by the first of November, but owing to the delay in receiving material and some rainy days, the work will not be fully completed and the dam turned over to the commissioners until about the middle of November. This will be in plenty of time for the saving of the winter rains and will result in the accumulation of considerable water in the basin before sprint of 1903.”

November 10, 1902 Water Main Bursts on Western Avenue: City Without Water Yesterday for Ten Hours

“The Large cement-lined stone pipe water main on Western Avenue between the Surfside Hotel and the residence of Mr. Parker H. Burnham burst early Sunday morning resulting in one of the largest water breaks which Gloucester had had for a long time…”

December 17, 1902 GATES OF HASKELL POND DAM WERE CLOSED YESTERDAY- FIFTEEN FEET CAN BE HELD Additional Water Supply Source Becomes a Fact

Without any pomp or ceremony the new additional water supply source of the city of Gloucester became a fact yesterday afternoon, when Engineer Spooner of the water department closed the gates of the partially completed dam at the Haskell pond storage basin, thus confining the product of the big water shed area and beginning the filling of the basin.

The dam now reaches a height of between 17 and 18 feet, and a pond of water to the depth of 15 feet can be easily confined and stored. It is thought that the amount will be secured by spring.

The work of the contractors for the winter is practically completed, although a small force will be kept at work right along. It is estimated that the job is about half completed at present.

As soon as spring opens a large force will be put on and the work rushed to completion.

In the meantime with closed gates, the big partially completed dam will be holding the product of the thaws and rains and Engineer Spooner hopes that spring will find a goodly quantity of water stored so that there will be no danger of a water famine during the coming summer.”

FAST STATS 1902 (Dam construction)

Scope: See above June 19 summary to date;

“The bottom of the basin is muddy for fully two feet. To remove this would mean an enormous expense, so that with the approval of the state board of health it was decided to cover the bottom with this gravel, a full supply of which is procured from the hills on either side. The bottom of the basin covers an area of something like 25 acres but when flooded the water surface will be about 38 acres and in places the depth of water will be over 30 feet.”

June 18 published bid;

“Sealed proposals will be received by the Board of Water Commissioners of the City of Gloucester, county of Essex, State of Massachusetts, up to 12 o’clock, noon, Monday, July 7, 1902, for constructing a dam and all appurtenances thereto, including gate-chamber, gate-house, spill-way, etc., on the line of Haskell’s Brook, in Ward Eight, in the aforesaid city, the envelope bearing the name of the bidder, address and “Proposals for Constructing Dam and Appurtenances”

The approximate quantities are as follows:–
Earth excavation, 3169 cubic yards
Rock excavation, 500 cubic yards
Concrete Masonry, 3426
Puddle Bill for embankments, 37,000 cubic yards
Paving, 2300 square yards
Brick, 39M
Superstructures, etc.

And August 15

Contractor: Coleman Brothers, Everett, Massachusetts
Mayor: Mayor French in his 6th term
City Engineer: Herman W. Spooner
Board of Waterways commissioners: W.A.Homans, Chair; David O Frost; Alphonso Tarr; H.W. Spooner, Engineer
Project start (historic): ca. 1895
Modern project start: 1901-1902
Location(s): West Gloucester
Priority:  Mayor’s Office-City  water high priority
Bid Open and contract amount: RFP advertised June 18, 1902; contract issued July 11 awarded $54,100 for this phase  (not including amendments)
Contract completion: 1902 construction phase of dam 50% completed by December anticipated completion after winter thaw spring 1903 (see entry from December above)

OVERALL COST: projected to be $350,000 in 1902 dollars though its specificty is not entirely broken down (includes basin prep and this contract labor and materials; I have not confirmed every expense nor if it includes eminent domain fair compensation and other legal costs. There was one amendment to the contract late 1902 for an added pipe line to Wheelers Point)

HIGH RES historic map indicating Haskell’s Pond Gloucester Mass_PDF courtesy Gloucester Department Public Works archives

HIGH RES vintage plans Gloucester Mass_PDF cross section Haskells Pond Dam courtesy Gloucester Department Public Works archives

epa storm water map

7 thoughts on “Great Public Works then and now | Haskell’s Pond Dam 2018 reconstruction with 1902 construction plans & wild origin story #GloucesterMA

  1. Wow- Did your home work here and that is quite a journey too! Thanks Catherine I found this very interesting Here and Now and then – before! 🙂 Dave & Kim 🙂


  2. Great article! I spent much of my youth exploring Haskell’s Pond and the surrounding woods. I have a couple of photos from 1901 of West Gloucesterites clearing the area for the dam. I don’t see a way to include photos here, so I’ll post on your FB page. – Bruce Roberts

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for sharing the fantatic photos, Bruce. I hoped to find some “before” images and I wondered about the guys because the paper only listed the total number of laborers minus names. What a project! And your great grandfather on creww, and a Haskell, I see from your dad’s notes. Fascinating.


  3. More on William A. Homans. He was born in Lynn in 1845 and wanted to join the Union forces in the Civil War but was only 15 years old. He took over his uncle’s ice business in 1877 and served in the state legislature as a representative in 1884. He was a city alderman in 1887 and 1888. He was described as a warm, genial and popular man and in 1906 was appointed as the City Marshall, serving for one year. He lived to be over 100 years old and his birthday was noted in the newspaper each year. He is buried in Beechbrook Cemetery.

    Liked by 1 person

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