Then genius of Amory Maynard was to separate the mill from the dam. By doing so, a large dam could be constructed upstream from where a small dam was, at Mill Street, and the new woolen mill located downstream. This separation created a larger vertical drop. And as water power is created by a combination of volume and vertical drop, more power. By creating the Ben Smith Dam, connecting canal, mill pond, and securing water rights upriver, including to Boone Pond and Fort Meadow Pond, the mill was able to operate year-round with a volume of 100 cubic feet per second, equivalent to 50,000 gallons per minute, and a vertical drop of close to twenty feet.
|Aerial view drawing of the center of Maynard, MA (1879), showing the|
mill pond much larger then compared to today. Click on photos to enlarge.
Canal enters pond from left. Water exits under mill to river on right.
|Trestle across the millpond, 1977. The trestle was built in 1916 when the|
pond was drained for construction of Building 1. It had held a flume that
conveyed water to the mill. Courtesy Maynard Historical Society.
|Ben Smith Dam, drought 2017. Even when there was minimal|
flow over the dam's top there was still significant flow into
the mill pond because of the jammed gate.
Back in the day of looser regulations and liabilities, the mill pond provided recreational opportunities for residents of Maynard. People fished, boated and swam. The pond, fed by water from the river, was far cleaner than the river downstream of the mill’s discharges. But not entirely clean, as upriver, Hudson, Stow and other towns were discharging their own mill wastes. Even so, an ice house was filled with ice every winter. Ice skating took place, with the occasional fall-through, and either rescue or fatality.