History of the Holyoke Canals
The historic canals, an extraordinary engineering feat, built in the late 1800's, converted the force of the Connecticut River into enormous industrial power, allowing Holyoke to become the first planned industrial city in the country. The main industry of Holyoke was the production of paper, and at it's height, Holyoke was the largest paper producing city in the world. Holyoke was soon coined "Paper City," a name that carries on to this day.
According to Holyoke's industrial plan, the canals, constructed like arteries bisecting the center of the city, were designed to divert and carry water from the Connecticut River down through the center of the city, passing through turbines or waterwheels located beneath the large mills lining the canals. The energy produced by the waterwheels powered the operations of the mills.
Today several water wheels are still functioning along the canals, and although much of the early industry is gone, they continue to be an abundant source of green energy, generating power for areas far beyond the mills in which they sit.
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