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Whittenton Pond Dam
or Whittenton Street Dam
is a private earthen dam
A dam is a barrier that impounds water or underground streams. Dams generally serve the primary purpose of retaining water, while other structures such as floodgates or levees are used to manage or prevent water flow into specific land regions. Hydropower and pumped-storage hydroelectricity are...
across the Mill River in Taunton, Massachusetts
Taunton is a city in Bristol County, Massachusetts, United States. It is the seat of Bristol County and the hub of the Greater Taunton Area. The city is located south of Boston, east of Providence, north of Fall River and west of Plymouth. The City of Taunton is situated on the Taunton River...
Built in 1832, the original dam was a half-mile upstream from downtown Taunton. It was 12 feet high and constructed of timber
Timber may refer to:* Timber, a term common in the United Kingdom and Australia for wood materials * Timber, Oregon, an unincorporated community in the U.S...
. It was built of wood in 1832, and flooded Taunton when it failed in 1968.
The dam was purchased during the summer of 2005 by Infinity Holdings, a real-estate development company in the Boston area.
Historically heavy and protracted rains fell on New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...
beginning October 12, 2005. On the morning of Sunday, October 16, officials realized that the dam was in trouble. The dam was determined to be in imminent danger of failure and of flooding Taunton with an 6-foot (1.8 m) wall of water. On Tuesday, 2000 residents of the city were evacuated and twenty-one troops from the National Guard
The National Guard of the United States is a reserve military force composed of state National Guard militia members or units under federally recognized active or inactive armed force service for the United States. Militia members are citizen soldiers, meaning they work part time for the National...
were stationed in Taunton. School in Taunton was cancelled, and several roads were closed. Several high-volume pumps were employed to divert water around the dam and drain Whittenton Pond before a catastrophic failure could occur.
Though the wooden dam held, later inspections uncovered extensive structural damage. (The Commonwealth of Massachusetts had last inspected the dam for safety and structural integrity in 2003.) After Whittenton Pond was drained, the old dam was demolished, and a new compressed earth and rock dam was built in its place.
In 2008, the Whittendon Pond Dam was part of a study by the Massachusetts Riverways Program to review the feasibility of dam removals along the Mill River.