Lowell Waterworks

Lowell Waterworks

Canals, dams, and locks in Lowell, MA. Photos taken October 8, 2006.

Lowell was formerly the center of the textile industry in New England. The textile mills were originally water-powered, by means of an extensive set of canals, dams, and locks routing water from the Merrimack River around the 32-foot drop of Pawtucket Falls. Some of the mills have now been restored as part of the Lowell National Historical Park. You might find this PDF map useful.

Copyright (c) 2007, Sandra J. Loosemore. Photos are provided for personal viewing only; no other use is permitted without prior written consent.


This is the Merrimack Canal, near the park headquarters. There's a trolley line that runs on the left side of the canal, if you don't want to walk around town.

This canal drops down by the side of Boott Mills to the Merrimack River. Below the drop in the foreground, on the right, there's more water entering from another canal.

Here's some gears used to transmit power from the water wheel into the mills.

The Eastern Canal runs along the front of the Boott Mills complex, which has been converted into apartments.

This is the inner courtyard of Boott Mills. The park service runs a museum in this complex with a room of operating looms. It's so noisy that you wonder how people could stand to work there when the whole complex -- or whole city -- was clattering away.

The Eastern Canal rounds a corner near Massachusetts Mills. This has also been renovated and turned into an apartment complex.

Massachusetts Mills is sort of an L-shaped complex. Here's the other piece.

The plaque marks the Lowell water power system as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.

Here's one of the surviving dam complexes. The lock is on the left.

This is a better view of the lock, showing the gates.

Below the dam, the canal drains into the Concord River.

Upstream of the dam, this is the Pawtucket Canal.

Former mill buildings reflected in the still waters of the canal.


Back to the main photography page.