Keepers of the Gate

Keepers of the Gate (HM1914)

Location: Lowell, MA 01854 Middlesex County
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Country: United States of America
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N 42° 38.917', W 71° 18.95'

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The productivity of thousands of millworkers depended on the skill of gatekeepers like those who worked here at Tremont Gatehouse. By opening and closing sluice gates inside the small brick structure, the gatekeeper controlled the flow of water and thus power to mills along the Western Canal.

Gatekeepers inherited a carefully designed waterpower system. Since 1823, when the huge waterwheel at Merrimack Mills started turning, company engineers searched for ways to prevent or reduce fluctuations in power. They pooled water behind dams to offset dry weather and drought. Company agents purchased water rights upriver in New Hampshire. And finally, gatekeepers carefully manipulated the machinery inside each gatehouse to control the amount of water delivered to mills along the almost six miles of canal.

(Inscription beside the photo on the lower left)
Vigilant gatekeepers at Tremont gatehouse (right) hand cranked sluice gates to try to maintain a steady flow of water to Lowell's power-generating equipment. After the 1950s, gatekeepers used electronic equipment at Swamp Locks (left) to centralize the control of the flow at several gatekeepers. On occasion, despite gatekeepers' best efforts, nature refused to cooperate and low water forced mills to slow down.
HM NumberHM1914
Placed ByLowell National Historic Park
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Thursday, October 16th, 2014 at 9:30pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)19T E 310163 N 4724395
Decimal Degrees42.64861667, -71.31583333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 42° 38.917', W 71° 18.95'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds42° 38' 55.02" N, 71° 18' 57.00" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)978
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 231-297 Father Morissette Blvd, Lowell MA 01854, US
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