Dam Removal Documentation, Plymouth, MA

PAL industrial archaeologists have recently completed excavations at the nineteenth-century Robinson Iron Rolling Mill and Nail Factory archaeological site, within the Town Brook Historic and Archaeological District in the heart of downtown Plymouth, Massachusetts. The excavations are part of the Town’s project to remove the Holmes Playground Dam off Summer Street, which is the last obstacle to fish passage upstream of the historic Jenney Grist Mill Site. The dam removal is being undertaken by the Town of Plymouth and its partners including the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game, Division of Ecological Restoration to restore anadromous fish passage on Town Brook between the Atlantic Ocean and spawning grounds in the Billington Sea. PAL’s archaeological work at the industrial site has included data recovery excavations in one of the two nineteenth-century iron rolling mill buildings, which contained four side by side large brick furnaces or ovens used to reheat wrought iron bars for rolling into nail stock, plate, and similar products. Large scale machinery parts including timber framing, iron pins and rods, chains, weights, and three 4 ft by 1.5 ft diameter metal rollers from the iron roll trains have also been recovered in the former mill building footprint. PAL’s archaeological site work will continue this fall as construction monitoring during the removal of the dam masonry structure and associated excavations in other former buildings at the iron factory complex.

Aerial photos were provided by the Town of Plymouth from their Drone recording the project.