Harnessed Water Power Spawns America's First Great Industrial City

by Larry D. Lankton, Historian; National Park Service, Washington, D.C.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1977, Vol. 47, Issue 13, Pg. 67-71

Document Type: Feature article


Lowell, Mass. was founded in 1822 at a site on the Merrimack River. The city's developers brought together some of the most advanced ideas of the day in the areas of power generation, industrial and transportation technology, production control, capital formation, scientific research and social organization. In doing so, they made Lowell the nation's first great industrial city. Using hydro-power to run its textile mills, the city also became a spark to modern hydraulics. James B. Francis was able to conduct numerous experiments, which aided in his development of the Francis turbine. Some say that U.S. science was first wedded to technology here.

Subject Headings: Municipal water | Urban areas | Industries | Rivers and streams | Assets | Social factors | Hydro power | Fabrics

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