Trouble for Holyoke Mills

by Laurel | February 10th, 2012

o4 February 1906

The Gate House, in Better Weather

The Gate House, in Better Weather

Ice Jam at Water-Power Company’s Head Gate House Causes Shutdown — Anchor Ice Also Troubling — Water Break Injures Telephone Service.

The cold snap of Friday created quite a little trouble for Holyoke mill owners, and all the Holyoke mills using water from the canals were tied up for a large part of yesterday, as well as the mills over the river at South Hadley Falls. The trouble began Friday afternoon with that provoking phenomenon known as “anchor ice.” By early evening the trouble was at its worst, and the Norman paper mill was shut down entirely, and several other mills in part or wholly. Similar trouble was being experienced by the city’s lighting plant, and at 6 the use of water was deemed too uncertain to be longer continued and steam was resorted to, steam being used until 5 yesterday afternoon, when the water was again turned on to the wheels. This is the longest steam run for many months for the city’s plants. The mills over the river in the Falls continued to be bothered by the ice, and were in a crippled condition yesterday morning, being practically closed down.

But another trouble arose yesterday morning. The breaking of the boom that kept off floating ice and debris from before the headgates of the Holyoke water power company had earlier in the week let a mass of broken ice against the front of the head gate house. The hard freeze coupled with the drifted ice, solidified this mass so when the mills began to take their normal quantity early yesterday morning it was found the water would not run through in sufficient quantity to furnish the needed power, and matters seemed to be getting worse instead f better. Engineer A. F. Sickman at once notified the various water-takers from the canals that the head gates would be closed at noon in order to allow the removal of the ice, which was done. As a matter of fact, the larger part of the mills were closed before noon on account of the water scarcity, and also some on account of being unable to obtain water for their engineer. This water is in many mills taken from the city supply; and the big 12 inch main that runs down Dwight Street parallel with the steel penstock of the Beebe & Holbrook mill had blown out part of a lead packing and necessitated shutting off connections for several hours, leaving the mills with no water.

Incidental to the bursting of this lead packing joint several of the conduits of the New England telephone company were inundated with the water, and about 200 telephone lines, and double that number of telephones, were put out of commission. Work was begun yesterday promptly in repairing the damage, but it was said at the office last evening that it would take pretty much all day today to complete the work. The lack of telephone service was of considerable trouble in some cases as in that of Hubert Whiting of the Whiting Paper Company, who tried vainly to call the water department , and finally was forced to send a messenger to the water office. Grave fears were expressed as to the peril that several of the mills were in with a lowered canal and practically no steam service on account of the cutting out of the section of water main to make the repairs. Chairman Hugh McLean of the water board and Chief John T. Lynch of the fire department were both early on hand to watch progress and keep in touch with events. Happily no trouble from fire arose, and the main was repaired and water turned on in a comparatively short time.

Meantime the water power company had not been idle, but had been spending the morning hours in collecting a large gang of men and apparatus for removing the ice that had collected before the headgate house. As soon as the head gates were shut down at noon the force set to work with heavy ropes and blocks and various implements. The huge blocks and segments of ice were swung out into the river current as rapidly as possible, the work being necessarily slow owing to the manner in which the sheets of ice had become wedged together, some of the largest sheets being sucked in edgewise. By 4 in the afternoon the mass had been cleared and the gates were once more opened to the big canals. A. F. Sickman said last night he recalled no similar case in his many years of connection with the company. There is a strong boom that protects the headgate house , but the rush of ice out of the river Monday broke this boom, and the ice had been setting more or less against the headgate house since this time. This boom will be repaired at the earliest possible moment, but the freezing over of the river makes it impracticable at t present. However, that also prevents the ice sections from piling up against the gate house, so no more trouble is expected for the present.

From The Springfield Republican.

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