Frank D. Comerford Dam

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Frank D. Comeford Dam
Official name Frank D. Comerford Dam
Location Monroe, New Hampshire / Barnet, Vermont, United States
Coordinates 44°19′31″N 72°0′03″W / 44.32528°N 72.00083°W / 44.32528; -72.00083Coordinates: 44°19′31″N 72°0′03″W / 44.32528°N 72.00083°W / 44.32528; -72.00083
Construction began 1928
Opening date 1930
Operator(s) TransCanada Hydro Northeast Inc.[1]
Dam and spillways
Impounds Connecticut River
Creates Comerford Reservoir
Not to be confused with the Illinois politician Frank D. Comerford (1879-1929).

Frank D. Comerford Dam is an International Style concrete dam in the Fifteen Mile Falls of the Connecticut River, on the border between the U.S. states of New Hampshire and Vermont.[2] The dam is near Monroe, New Hampshire. Construction began in 1928 and was completed in 1931. The dam and the power plant are operated by the TransCanada Corp.[3]

Comerford Reservoir is the reservoir created behind the dam, named after Frank D. Comerford, president of the Connecticut River Power Company and the New England Power Company.

Hydroelectric power plants have the ability to vary the amount of power generated, depending on the demand. Steam turbine power plants are not as easily "throttled" because of the amount of thermodynamic inertia contained in their systems.


In what would become the Connecticut River, running water wore out a rocky gorge 40 feet (12 m) to 100 feet (30 m) deep in pre-glacial days. The result was a gentle gradient, 10 feet (3 m) to the 1 mile (1.6 km). The drop is 320 feet (98 m) over 15 miles (24 km). The area was called "Fifteen Mile Falls."


On September 30, 1930, President Herbert Hoover remotely initiated the generation of electricity from Comerford Dam, then New England's largest single hydroelectric development. This was the first in a series, harnessing hydroelectric power in the United States in the 1930s. The power was sent 126 miles (203 km) for use in Massachusetts.[4] At the time of its construction, it was the largest "retaining wall" in the United States, representing more than 90,000 cubic yards (69,000 m3) of concrete.[5]

In 2005, USGen New England sold the dam to TransCanada Hydro Northeast Inc.[1]


A camp was constructed in East Barnet, Vermont in 1928 for 1500 workers. The camp contained its own housing, commissary, theater (which substituted as a church on Sunday), and a hospital. It had its own hockey and basketball teams. 120 people prepared and served meals. 1300 men worked the day shift from 7-6 with one hour off for lunch. 300 men worked the night shift.[6]

Construction materials were supplied on a special 3-mile (4.8 km) railroad track built to the site.


  1. ^ a b State of Vermont Public Service Board accessed March 16, 2008
  2. ^ Plymouth State News
  3. ^ Subsidiaries of TransCanada
  4. ^, "Concord, Vermont - Natural Resources"
  5. ^ Frances Ann Johnson (1955). The History of Monroe, New Hampshire. Courier Printing Company. , p. 110
  6. ^ Fisher, Harriet F. (June 2003). A Picnic by the Dam Site. The Kingdom Historical. 

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