Wachusett Dam & Reservoir


Coal at the Dam

Before the introduction of gasoline and the internal combustion engine (and proper roads) the movement of goods and people was implemented by steam.

All that was required was the fusion of two basic elements…fire and water.

Steam engines use the force produced by steam pressure to push a piston back and forth inside a cylinder. This pushing force can be transformed, by a connecting rod and crank, into rotational force (wheels) to perform work.

Coal chute from River Street

Fuel for the fire could be whatever would burn but the best choice turned out to be coal. It was available almost everywhere in abundance.


In this article a wide variety of steam-from-coal powered devices (and the methods of coal supply) in general use at the time of the Wachusett Dam & Reservoir construction are presented.