Due to a major infrastructure project, the FRHS Museum will be closed until further notice, starting July 23, 2023.

The Museum Shop is closed until further notice.

Adarondack Grove

by Robert Kitchen

Adarondack Grove by Robert Kitchen

The American Civil War ended in 1865 and, by 1870, Fall River was beginning to “loom up.” With a population of 27,000, the city had grown steadily since its incorporation in 1854 when it boasted a population of 12,000. Manufacturing had prospered in that period, but the city was to experience a building boom that would be unparalleled in its history. While no mills were built in the city in 1870, some 16 mills would be built between 1871 and 1873. These mills were: King Philip; Border City; Weetamoe; Osborn; Narragansett; Fall River Bleachery; Sagamore; Richard Borden; Slade; Flint; Crescent; Montaup; Shove; Wampanoag; Stafford; and Chace. The mills were constructed mostly of granite, a building material easily found in the city, which sits on a large plug of granite called a batholith, and mining the stone was simply a case of pushing back the topsoil covering of the rock and then cutting the stone. Most mills were constructed close to the site of the quarry. In addition to granite, other building materials were needed, including large quantities of sand for the mortar mix to cement the stones together.

Anticipating this need for sand for the mill construction, a company called the Watuppa Sand Company was formed with Southard H. Miller as its president and Gilbert Wordell its manager. The 1870 City Directory lists Miller as a carpenter living on Second Street and Wordell as owner of a wood yard on lower Pleasant Street. When the few sand deposits existing in the city proper were exhausted, a new source had to be found. The company purchased from Spencer Macomber between six and seven acres of land on the east side of the North Watuppa Pond that included a large sand bank and a grove of full-grown trees. This sand deposit was what geologists call a kame deposit, created by water running off and through the retreating ice sheet. The deposit left behind is made of sorted material and was ready to use. These deposits could be found throughout the area, and many have been mined over the years.

To move the sand to the city, Miller and Wordell decided to construct a flat-bottomed stern-wheel steamboat at Wordell’s wood yard. The boat was some 40 feet in length with a shallow draft and was named the Enterprise. Joseph Terry built the boat on site. He usually built boats at the Iron Works Wharf to run on the Taunton River. The engine was supplied by Gifford, Houghton & Company, which built portable and stationary hoisting engines. Since the boiler and engine occupied most of the boat, a barge was constructed to carry the sand. This barge was some 60 feet long and 12 feet wide and was also built at the Wordell wood yard site, just east of the Troy Building on Pleasant Street. The Enterprise was captained by Henry Wordell. Wood and farmers goods were also carried, but the main product was the sand mined on the shores of the North Watuppa Pond. The Enterprise sailed up the Quequechan into the South Watuppa, thence into the North Watuppa. The grove lay a mile or so from the Narrows, where the two ponds joined

The steamer was launched on August 3, 1870, and the barge on August 19. The first trip was made at 9 a.m. on the 19th, followed by a second trip in the afternoon. About 200 friends and members of the city government were on the two trips. The bridge at the Narrows was six feet above the water to allow the boat to pass under it into the North Watuppa. The smokestack on the boat was hinged so that it could be folded down to get it under the bridge. The total time for the trip from Pleasant Street to Adirondack Grove was 70 minutes. The Fall River Daily Evening News reported that a pleasant and fine sail was had. They took a band of musicians with them to entertain the patrons and the shores were lined with people anxious to see the first steamer on the Watuppa. A clam dinner was served at the Grove. After an inspection of the Grove, a singing group called Quadrilation, clad in naval uniforms and accompanied by the band, sang “The Star Spangled Banner.” A sail around the North Watuppa shoreline was had before returning to the pier at Wordell’s wood yard.

Noting the comments of the passengers, the owners decided that running excursions to the Grove would be profitable. They then built a barge expressly for passengers and launched it on September 8, 1870. The barge was named the Excursionist and could be chartered along with the Enterprise for $25 per day. It was a popular charter with Sunday schools and picnic parties, and moonlight excursions held sway for the warm summer months.

The Watuppa Sand Company operated for only two years. The advent of the railroad line running through the South Watuppa and Quequechan Rivers made the operation of the steamboat difficult, if not impossible. The Enterprise was sold to David M. Anthony who moved her to the Taunton River and changed her design from a stern to a side wheeler. Her name was changed to the Lark. Anthony, who started as the owner of a meat market, would eventually become associated with the meat packer Swift & Co., and would become a wealthy provisioner. The Lark did a bit of towing, but Anthony primarily used her for fishing and clamming trips and to travel to his summer home, Bay Point, in Swansea, Massachusetts.


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  • Due to a major infrastructure project, the FRHS Museum will be closed beginning July 22, 2023. The Musem Shop is closed until further notice.