Peterborough

Two dams of cultural significance are up for inspection

The fate of the early 1800s-era Transcript Dam on Main Street is pending, as the cost of needed repairs is investigated

  • Peterborough's public works department will temporarily lower the water level of two dams sometime in September so engineers can inspect them.
  • Peterborough's public works department will temporarily lower the water level of two dams sometime in September so engineers can inspect them.

PETERBOROUGH — When Rodney Bartlett first spoke to the public about inspecting the two-centuries-old Transcript Dam downtown and the North Village Dam, the director of public works proposed breaching one of the dams, if found too costly to repair. Breaching and flooding the dam would destroy it.

At Tuesday’s Select Board meeting, Bartlett said Peterborough has no intention to breach and remove the North Village Dam, near the intersection of Routes 202 and 136, because the town understands the value of it “aesthetic views.”

The Transcript Dam near the Main Street bridge might not be so lucky.

Wednesday, Bartlett said the Transcript Dam will be evaluated for repair or possible breaching.

Bartlett spoke at Tuesday’s Select Board meeting about drawing down the water level of both dams for engineers to inspect their respective structural strength. This inspection will occur between Sept. 9 and 26.

At the meeting, Joe Brennan of Peterborough voiced his concern about the town considering destroying either dam. “I think it’s an aesthetics feature of the town,” Brennan said. “I would hate to see it go away.”

Bartlett said this upcoming procedure is just an inspection. The town’s intentions are to keep the dams in good shape.

Wednesday, Bartlett clarified, saying the North Village Dam, which hasn’t been inspected for 30 years, will not be breached. The Transcript Dam will be evaluated for repair or breaching following the inspection.

At a previous informational meeting in July, Bartlett had said there are a lot of issues with the Transcript Dam. The dam dates back to the early 1800s. He said it’s a small dam that is no longer inspected by the N.H. Department of Environmental Services, and the water behind it is only about 2 feet deep. Bartlett said water leaks through the dam on the sides and there is an underground sluiceway that drains into the river.

At Tuesday’s Select Board meeting, Bartlett said his department plans to lower the water level of the North Village Dam approximately 6 inches each day until the dam’s depth is 45 feet. Around the same time, the Public Works Department will also lower the level of the Transcript Dam. After engineers inspect the quality of the dams, Bartlett said they will draft plans for the future repairs or breaching. Bartlett said the town will pay for the lowering of the water levels and the inspections through funds set aside over the last couple years.

Select Board Chair Barbara Mill asked if lowering the water level of the dams will produce any smells.

Bartlett said that for this short period of time, “I doubt there will be any unusual odors.”

Selectmen Tyler Ward jokingly asked if the dams will be operating by the start of Peterborough’s 275th anniversary celebration on Oct. 10.

Bartlett said a little bit of rain to refill the dams would definitely help.

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