Wachusett Dam & Reservoir
The main contract for the construction of the Wachusett Dam was made on October 1, 1900 with the McArthur Brothers Company of Chicago, IL.
This work would require that large quantities of rock blasted from a remote quarry be placed by derricks into position at the dam.
Twin 500 horsepower air compressors, two coal-fired boilers and a cooling pond were installed to power the lifting derricks (converted from steam), pumps and numerous rock drills.
From the start the compressors ran continuously, averaging about 600 horsepower for day shifts and about 370 horsepower for night shifts. The maximum amount used at any time was 850 horsepower.
Smaller compressor plants, used chiefly for drilling operations in tunnels, were installed at aqueducts in Berlin and Weston.
The compressor plants consumed prodigious quantities of anthracite coal, delivered in bulk by rail cars.
At that time great public works in progress throughout the country at that time made large demands on resources and progress at the dam was affected by the resulting price and wage escalation and the Coal Strike of 1902.
This is the story of those gugantic machines.
The Main Compressor Plant at the Quarry
The Compressor Plant at Aqueduct Shaft No. 4