Mine Falls Park

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Coordinates: 42°45′02″N 71°30′15″W / 42.75056°N 71.50417°W / 42.75056; -71.50417

Cyclists take a break at the 1886 Mine Falls Gatehouse in Mine Falls Park
Mine Falls dam next to the Mine Falls Gatehouse

Mine Falls Park is a 325-acre (132 ha) park in the city of Nashua, New Hampshire. Located in the heart of the city, it was purchased in 1969 from the Nashua, New Hampshire Foundation with city and federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) money. It is bordered on the north by the Nashua River and on the south by the millpond and power canal system.

History[edit]

The park encompasses 325 acres located on both sides of the Everett Turnpike.[1] The name "Mine Falls" dates from the 18th century, when low-quality lead was supposedly mined from the island below the falls. In the early 19th century, the potential of the Nashua River to drive the wheels of industrial mills was recognized after the success of the Merrimack Canal, dug in the 1820s in Lowell, ten miles downstream from Nashua. In Nashua, workers used shovels and mules to dig a 3-mile-long (5 km) canal, which provides a vertical drop of 36 feet (11 m) at the mills. The first gates were built in 1826, and the gatehouse near Mine falls was built in 1886. All of the property was once part of a massive complex owned by the Nashua Manufacturing Company, which harnessed the river's flow for power in its mills downstream on Factory Street. The mills closed in 1948 and the owner Textron sold it to the Nashua, New Hampshire Foundation (a group of local businessmen). After that, the area had been used for various commercial purposes while the river itself suffered from severe pollution. In 1973 a visit from the Environmental Protection Agency's Program to Photographically Document Subjects of Environmental Concern (called "DOCUMERICA") caused the Mine Falls Park masterplan to be created in 1974. In subsequent years a regulation-sized soccer playing field was created by the reclamation of two sewage lagoons.[1] In 1981 a new footbridge over the Nashua river canal was built at the end of Whipple Street, to allow access to the playing field area that was formerly only accessible by hiking from the path under the highway from the west, or the Factory street entrance from the Nashua Manufacturing Company complex in the east.[1]

The playing area has since been expanded and includes 7 playing fields today, for baseball, soccer, and lacrosse. In 1986 the playing area was dedicated to the memory of staff sergeant Alan H. Soifert (d. Beirut, 14-10-1983) and currently bears his name. Besides the playing area, visitors to the park from around New Hampshire and Massachusetts enjoy numerous recreational opportunities, such as walking, boating, fishing, cross-country skiing, and biking. The trails provide an underpass of the highway and the city's only bicycle and pedestrian crossing of the Nashua River west of Main Street.[2]

Map of the park in light green with the playing fields shown in dark green and the Nashua Manufacturing Company Historic District in blue.

In 1987, the Nashua River Canal and the Nashua Manufacturing Company Historic District (the Millyard) were placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1992, the park trails were designated part of the New Hampshire Heritage Trail system, which extends 130 miles (210 km) along the Merrimack River from Massachusetts to Canada. Mine Falls (on the Nashua River) is now the site of a small, city owned (managed by Algonquin Power) hydroelectric dam with a capacity of 3 megawatts.[3]

Starting in 2005, the park has been the site of the New Hampshire high school cross country championships.

City officials had long tolerated an encampment of the homeless, known as "Maple Island", near the millyard in the park. An attack on a homeless man in 2009 prompted renewed concern about it, and officials cleared the settlement. Some local homeless made a new camp on nearby private land.[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Article in the Nashua Telegraph May 28th, 1981 on Google newspapers
  2. ^ "Mine Falls Park". City of Nashua. Retrieved July 6, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Algonquin Power - Mine Falls". Retrieved October 6, 2010. 
  4. ^ Andrew Wolfe (March 23, 2010). "Plea due in attack on homeless man at Mine Falls Park". The Telegraph of Nashua. Retrieved July 6, 2010.