O – Spillway 4

[Ride onto Water Street from Canal Street just short of Appleton Street.  Ride past the Norman Mill until you are between the spillway to your right and the end of the second level canal to your left.]

This is the juncture of the second level canal and the river.  It is a very busy location of the canal despite its apparent calm.  To the east is Riverside Power Station which has four medium-sized turbines.  This Riverside Power Station was built in 1906.  It also had that year a steam driven turbine built along its south edge.  The hydro-driven turbine is in the middle.

The second level canal ends here but it is shorter than in the past.  The small and low earthen dike at its end is low on purpose.  During a major rainstorm, the canal water can jump over this dike.  This is one of many safety features of the canal.  For one half mile to the south, the now empty canal can fill up with any overflow water.  Also at this southwest end of the canal there is a three-foot wide pipe that connects to the third level canal.  It is a safety feature that can pump water quickly from this location to a large vat at the second level canal’s southern end.  From there it can be released to the river via large races.  It would be used during heavy rainstorms like a hurricane.  The last major accident that happened in the canal system was in 1988 when water overflowed from the Third Canal into the Sunoco Paper Plant.  By 1990 this emergency pipe was put in.  The large vat was formerly a spillway at the end of the original termination of the Second Level Canal.

To the south, the mill that you see is Norman Paper Mill one of the last mills built in Holyoke.  The grand dream that Holyoke had to have 100 mills never happened but they had many.  This section of the canal system was the one that had the least mills.  There was a great distance between the Gill Mill to the north and the Riverside Mills to the south.  Across the street from this location though was the site of the longest mill in Holyoke.  Deane Power Works manufactured steam pumps and steam engines.  They later became Worthington Pump and covered much of Canal Street with mills.  One still exists and is used by Edaron – cutters of jigsaw puzzles.

Sanborn map analysis:

Sanborn 1949 map