Down to the sea: Once upon a time, Camden manufactured things

Camden’s cascading falls

Posted:  Tuesday, December 5, 2017 - 8:15pm

Camden’s Megunticook River is three miles long, and runs from Megunticook Lake to the inner harbor. There it ends in waterfalls, rushing or not, depending on the water in the river.  It can best be seen from Harbor Park or the Camden Public Landing.  The elver fishermen find their abundant caches there, at the right time of the year.

The Montgomery family owned that dam, but gave it to the Town of Camden in the early 1990s. By owning the first Twin Dams (or Molyneaux dams) and the last dam, Camden could control the flow of the Megunticook River water.

Most people do not know that many years ago there was a woolen mill nearby, and the falls were their power. There were 10 dams on that river, at one time.

Major William Minot is considered to be the second settler of Camden and in 1771 he purchased land and water power from the Twenty Associates, near the mouth of the river.  A grist mill was built at about 35 Main Street and the woolen factory at the end of the Megunticook River was established in 1824 by Abraham and Lewis Ogier.  Thomas Harback later owned it until 1850, and the next owner was Cyrus Alden.  The flow of water was directed into the factory by a flume, and dependent upon that dam.

The Camden Anchor Factory is a business that more Camden people have heard about, and that was on the site of the woolen mill. William G. and Horatio E. Alden began the business in 1866. 

It was the largest plant of its kind in the country and their anchors traveled all over the world on vessels.

 Later the Knox Engines were built there. Then the business changed to Camden Anchor-Rockland  Machine Co., which built vessels for World War I.

It was after the businesses (including a sardine factory for a short time), were gone and the buildings empty, that it burned about 1935.

The Camden Public Landing took its place.

Barbara F. Dyer has lived in Camden all her life, so far.

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 Demise of the Camden steamboat wharf

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