Saco River Falls

When the Saco River rages as it does in this video, the river is either draining the White Mountains during the spring thaw, or a great weather event has just occurred. We are all painfully aware of the recent weather event.

The awesome strength of the falls reminds us of why the mills are here in the first place. It was the power of the water that drove the machinery that made these mills the most successful textile operation of its time.

What made this mill so uniquely productive, was the difference in elevation between the top of the falls and the bottom of the falls. That difference is 42 feet. It all comes down to gravity and head pressure. Large quantities of water dropping 42 feet was the force that consistently drove the water wheels that ran the various machinery, processes and looms to produce cloth.

The mill developers in the early 1840s saw this potential and commenced the construction of a network of tunnels to harness the water’s power. Then they built the mill buildings on top of the tunnels, and the machines started spinning. The mill was one of the greatest early advances of the American Industrial Revolution, and it was all based on a very simple principle: gravity.