Worcester, MA Flood, Mar 1876


City Engineer Blake, in a communication to the water committee lsat September, notified them that the leak had increased. In April, 24,221 gallons escaped in 24 hours; while in July the amount escaping had increased to 39,810 gallons per day. In this letter Mr. Blake recommended that the pipe arch be cleared of all deposit, so that a thorough examination could be made, to determine whether or no the water was muddy at its entrance to the pipe arch. The examination was made and the water found to be perfectly clear throughout its course through the pipe arch. This seemed to show that the water proceeded from a spring and not from the reservoir, and this view was held by all connected with the water department until, on Tuesday morning, the water was seen to be muddy.

Between July and September the leak showed no increase. Soon after the last named month, at Mr. Blake's suggestion, two weirs were constructed---one at the lower gate house and the other at the upper bulkhead---to enable a more thorough measurement of the water proceeding from the leak to be made, and to determine the location of the increase, as far as possible. The measurements of water made at both the weirs, taken subsequently, showed that the increase to the leak proceeded from the main dam, and was not between that the the lower gate house. The leak increased in December, the depth of the flow being probably 7-100ths of a foot at the weirs. The flow remained substantially the same throughout the months of January and February. In March no change was recorded until the reservoir filled up, last Sunday, and the flash boards were put in. Monday the flow was 10-100th of an inch. Tuesday it was 9-100ths of an inch, as shown by the record in the gate house. The March record has, however, been destroyed, but was consulted by those on the dam, Wednesday night.


The loss is variously estimated at from $500,000 to $1,500,000. The loss to individuals and corporations, making liberal estimates, and expecting Leesville and Stoneville, is $819,000. This, estimating the total loss at $500,000, leaves $181,000 to cover the loss to the city by the destruction of the dam, washing of roads and loss of bridges. The estimates are as follows

George W. Olney $25,000
James A. Smith & Co. 75,000
A. E. Smith 2,500
Ashworth & Jones 75,000
J. A. Hunt 5,000
Albert W. Darling 2,000
Boston and Albany Railroad 90,000
Curtis & Marble 35,000
Albert Curtis 3,000
Norwich and Worcester Railroad 2,500
Wicks Manufacturing Company 5,000
Benjamine James 25,000
Total $319,000

The Fitchburg Sentinel, Fitchburg, MA 1 Apr 1876