Headley Falls, MA Dam Collapse, Nov 1848



The great dam of the Connecticut River, bulit by the Headley Falls company at the 'New City,' nine miles South of Springfield, Mass., which was 100 feet long and 30 feet high, and had just been finished at a cost of between $60,000 and $100,000, gave way on the 16th inst., in consequence of some imperfection at the bottom of the gates, and in a few minutes was in ruins.
The Boston Traveler says:
When the water broke through, the pond had filled to within several feet of the top, and the pent up waters rushed forth with mighty power, and dashed and tumbled over the rocky bed below, sweeping away with them the new broken and scattered, but still huge portions of the wreck. The scene was both magnificent and frightful. To describe it were impossible -- no pen linner could convey a lithe of the impression that is vividly marked on the minds of all who witnessed it.
Strong hearts trembled within them, and every face was pale at the sight. The labor of many minds and hundreds of hands for a long summer
-- the pride and confidence of the constructors, just in the hour of triumph, were sept off in an instant; and nothing but the huge wreck that remains is left to tell of the mightiest structure of the same character that was ever buildt in this country.
The precise time of the disaster was 20 minutes after eight o'clock, and the whole destruction was the work of a moment.
Had not the dam given was at its centre, as it did, a breakage would have probably soon occurred at the Western abutment. The massive stones composing the sides of the bulk heads there were upheaving under the immense pressure of the water, and it was at that point that the greatest danger was apprehended. Had the water forced itself through here, it would have swept over the whole village, and caused almost unimaginable injury.
Notwithstanding the many rumors to the contrary we cannot learn that a single life was lost on this occasion. Hundreds of men, women, and children, crossed the dam on the top and below, during the day; but the approaching calamity gave such warning of its coming, as to drive all from the most exposed points, and it is believed that no one perished in the flood.
The loss by this unlooked for catastrophe cannot be rightly estimated. The dam was built for the company by Messrs. Boody & Ross, and all the loss falls of course on the former.

Alton Telegraph Illinois 1848-12-01