A History: The Red Tower and Hamilton Smith II

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The Mill Pond Dam

Mill Pond Dam

The Mill Pond was around for a long time before Edith Onderdonk's generous contribution to the town.

There were succession of wooden mill dams at this location from the 17th century onward. As these dams rotted or were damaged by spring
floods, they were repaired or replaced.  By 1913, the mills that made use of the water power had been abandoned.  Therefore, when the wooden dam failed, there was no enterprise that would replace it for economic gain.

By this time, the Oyster River mill pond was valued more for its scenic and recreational qualities than as a source of mechanical power.   The mill pond had also been an important part of the Hamilton Smith estate. This clearly would have been the motivation for Edith Onderdonk to volunteer the funds to replace the dam with what would be a much more permanent structure.

UNH professor Charles Hewitt was the engineer for the 1913 dam reconstruction.


Dick Lord - Durham Historic Association