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Old 10-11-2004, 02:12 PM   #1
Lakegeezer
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Default Winnipesaukee before the dam

With the lake taking on its fall level, some interesting rock formations are starting to show. Maybe it was the insights brought on by happy hour, but we saw a "native" American fire ring sticking out of the water, and started talking about what the lake must have been like before the dam was built. I don't recall the date, but it was sometime in the late 1800s I think, the water level was raised over 10 feet by the dam at Lakeport. That is a huge change! We were wondering who lived here before the dam? Were they displaced? Where there buildings? Was there any controversy about the dam? Its a chapter in the history of the lake that I don't recall seeing much information about, except that it happened. Any historians out there with more details?
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Old 10-12-2004, 08:36 AM   #2
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Cool The dam

I was told that the Lowell Mass mills bought the water rights around Winnipesaukee so that they can build a dam to make sure they have adequate water. They had to pay for hundreds of acres that they have flooded after the dam was built. This was in the 1800's. I think I heard this when I went on the mill tour in Lowell when I was a kid. Maybe we can ask Bruce Hearld of the Weirs Times to do an article on the dam. Anyone out there can clarify this info?
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Old 10-14-2004, 07:49 AM   #3
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Default Have you seen this?

History Of The Lake Thread
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Old 10-14-2004, 08:54 AM   #4
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Thanks for that link RG.You uncovered a lot of interesting history.I love this stuff!! SS
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Old 10-14-2004, 09:27 AM   #5
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Great thread RG. Guess I'll have to consult you for additional lore.
There is an old book at the Laconia library about the Lakeport cleft. Something about a natural dam across Lakeport millions of years ago and at that time the 'Winnipesakee River' flowed from Alton to the sea.
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Old 10-14-2004, 10:58 AM   #6
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Default Winni Dam

I have also heard that Winni once emptied through Merrymeeting Bay (now called Alton Bay) and down the Merrymeeting River, Cocheco River and Great Bay into the ocean near Portsmouth. If you look at a topographical map you can see how that is not too far fetched.
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Old 10-16-2004, 11:22 AM   #7
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McDude:
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I have also heard that Winni once emptied through Merrymeeting Bay (now called Alton Bay) and down the Merrymeeting River ...
I looked at a topo map. Merrymeeting River is 15-20 feet higher than Winnipesaukee. I think that's too high a hurdle to overcome.

If Winnipesaukee were completely dammed at the Weirs, the lake would rise about 8 feet. At that height, a new outflow would go from Sanders Bay through the Lily pond into Paugus Bay by the Burger King.
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Old 01-15-2005, 12:36 PM   #8
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Hi Bizer and All:
It has taken me three months to find it but I did! I'm not sure that I believe this, but, this is quoted from Bruce Heald's 1998 book entitled "The Lakes Region of New Hampshire - Volume II" (page 47) "Alton is situated in the bed of a river that was once the outlet of Lake Winnipesaukee to the sea. Geologists have demonstrated that the Merrymeeting River once flowed in the opposite direction of what it currently does."

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Old 09-17-2019, 06:47 PM   #9
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Default Lake level before the dam.

I have a new (retirement) job! I'm working on the Mount as a deck hand and engineer.

I am often asked about the Lake level. For the life of me I can't figure out what the Lake level was before the dam was built around 1859?

My old Lake pal and I have found a fire pit that is about six feet below Lake level while diving. It is visible from Google Maps. I guess that the Indians before the dam had a site in Braun Bay.

Any ideas?

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Old 09-18-2019, 07:28 AM   #10
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I have a copy of this book. Very interesting read. Geological proof that Merrymeeting River was the outlet. Lily Pond was once part of the lake.
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Old 09-18-2019, 02:54 PM   #11
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Default Alton outflow

For a college geology class I did some research on the lake. Original outflow was determined to be Alton. If I remember correctly, the Weirs channel was rapids and there was a significant level difference between the main lake and Paugus Bay, which was really just a stream. The dam flooded farmlands and created the bay, and the channel was dredged for navigation. Later dredged some more and the spoil was used to create Weirs Beach.
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Old 09-19-2019, 10:43 AM   #12
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As best as I can recall, really stretching memory to get back there, the first big serious long-last'n dam constructed, was the 18' tall, Lakeport Dam, finished in 1822 and built to power the nearby mills.

It looked just like a box or rectangle design set of Lincoln Logs with the log ends notched and interlocked for integral strength. Dumping a fill inside the rectangle with boulders, rocks, and sand made it last for many years.

Lakeport local, Fred Flintstone, was in charge of its' construction ...... a yabba-dabba-doobie constructed dam ....... way-to-go, Fred!
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