The Fall of Industry
Waterfall on Blackberry River, East Canaan
I could really go somewhere with my title pun, but choose not to. Probably because there’s not really anywhere to go with it that would make it any better anyway.
These falls are included in the new (2013) Connecticut Waterfalls guidebook, so I’m adding this page 5 years after visiting. And since I’m lazy, I’m not going to go find the old CD that contains the original pictures to give you the lovely giant waterfall picture you so richly deserve. I’m a jerk like that, sorry.
Update: I revisited in 2017 with my sons, so now we have some better pictures!
But I’m not so much of a jerk as to plagiarize and not cite, so some of the facts and history below are from the book.
I guess I’m a little surprsed Dunn and Butler include these sort-of fake falls in their book, but then again, they ARE falls nonetheless. And many of our state’s waterfalls have been manipulated one way or another.
These 12-foot high falls are along the Blackberry River which flows down from Norfolk and ultimately into the Housatonic. Even though these are “partially dammed” falls and you may have thought, like I did, that the dam made the falls.
Nope. In fact, the dam actually hid most of the falls. At one time, there was a rather substantial waterfall here. But the coolest thing about these falls is their historic import:
Up until the 20th early 20th century the penstock (the large pipe emerging from the dam) carried water to the turbine, which turned a large crown gear. The gear, in turn, drove a blowing engine, which created an airflow brought down to a preheating oven on the side of the furnace – and finally, once heated, into the furnace stack itself.
The Beckley Blast Furnace gives you the rare opportunity to see how waterfalls and dams were harnessed to do actual work during the 19th and 20th centuries. In most instances waterfalls powered oversot waterwheels. In the case of [this one], a turbine utilized the power of moving water.
Hoang and I visited the outdoor museum, which you can read about here and another 2017 visit here. There, you’ll find all the historical nitty gritty of this cool little spot in the northwest hills. The Beckley Furnace is the only designated Industrial Monument in Connecticut. Now you know.
Accessibility: Free and requires only a short walk