Dams in Rockford, part2

By September 1851, the Rockford Forum was reporting that a new company had been formed, with capital of $10,000. The new dam would be built on the ford which gave Rockford its name.  The Forum reported that it was to be built ” with two walls of solid timber-work twelve inches thick, twelve feet apart, extending across the river…tied together, and the spaces filled with loose stone…seven feet high.” (Sept. 3, 1851).

In November 1852, the Rock River Democrat reported that the river was 800 feet wide where the dam was being built, and that the race on the east side of the river was completed, being 40 feet wide and 300 feet long. At that time, the as-yet uncompleted west-side race was 80 feet wide, but only 750 feet long (they wanted it to be 2,000 feet long). The depth of the races was 11 feet, 5 feet of which was excavated from the solid rock. The head of water flow was expected to be 7-8 feet. By then the Water Power Company had spent $25,000, and expected to spend another $10,000.

In July 1853, the east side of the river had a sawmill and flourmill using the power of the river, and on the west side a foundry and another sawmill were in operation, and another building was going up.

In 1854, the Rock River Democrat reported that the dam was finishing and that Paul Burnham had a sawmill and planing machine, a Mr. Kenfield had a mill for sawing stone, the company of Clark & Utter had a number of lathes for producing machinery,  and J. B. Howell had a wool carding mill and lathes for turning wood. The largest manufacturer of the day was J. H. Manny & Company. The production of the Manny’s Reapers and Mowers kept 70-80 men “constantly employed.” Other companies were starting up as well. It was an exciting, busy and progressive time in Rockford.

Sources: Rockford Forum, Rock River Democrat.