The Boston Public Library has posted a collection of Newton post cards using Flickr. Several of the pictures show how the Charles River used to look in its run through Newton.
This looks like the dam at Upper Falls (the Silk Mill Dam):
You can compare this to my recent picture of the dam at Upper Falls from my paddling trip through Hemlock Gorge:
It was interesting to see what the area around Horseshoe Dam looked like prior to the construction of Route 9, as seen in this picture:
The Boston Globe West has a story from the Newton History Museum at The Jackson Homestead focusing on the impact of the Charles River on Newton: Pages From Newton’s History.
The City of Newton is defined by the Charles. It has the river on its borders in the south, west, and north, and it was on the river’s banks that the city got its start — not as one unified town, but at first as a string of villages that grew up along the watercourse that provided abundant power for mills and manufacturing effots. Improved transportation — first roads, then rail — gave those factories better access to markets. It also tied together the villages of Newton and brought the 18 square miles of farms and woods bounded by the Charles into a closer relationship with the metropolis at its doorstep, Boston.
. . .
The Charles today is slow and civilized, tamed by dams that have turned it into a series of elongated, picturesque lakes that make the river a marvelous resource for recreation and natural beauty. The original purpose of those dams was almost the opposite. They made the Charles a very hard-working river.
From the Boston Globe’s Green Blog: Oysters help clean the Charles River.
Oysters eat silt, in addition to the phytoplankton that drift in the currents. As they eat, they also ingest some of the bacteria and organic compounds contained in sewer overflow, which Jay said runs untreated into the Charles from houses and streets during heavy rains.
So the Massachusetts Oyster Project dropped 150,000 oysters into the Charles River Basin around Constitution Marina this past weekend.
Oysters may be able to offset point pollution sources such as partially treated sewage coming out from Combined Sewage Overflows (CSOs). The number, flow, and impact of these has been reduced dramatically by the work of the MWRA and the cleanup of Boston Harbor. But it will be difficult to totally eliminate CSOs entirely.
The Charles River Watershed Association is having their annual meeting and awards dinner on November 19, 2008 at the Newton Marriot Hotel (along the banks of the Charles).
The featured speaker will be Dr. Sarah Slaughter, coordinator of the MIT Sloan School of Management Sustainability Business Laboratory and the Sloan Sustainability Initiative, who will present on Designing Sustainable and Resilient Communities. Dr. Slaughter will discuss how innovations in engineering can change the way cities conserve vital water resources and withstand disasters.