Sunday, June 8, 2014

Discovering New Jersey : Great Falls Raceway and Power System Paterson NJ

The Great Falls Raceway and Power System dates back to a time when Paterson was a major industrial city whose plans were laid out by Alexander Hamilton.

One of the more idyllic spillways along the Great Falls Raceway, this area has become home to a family of Canada Geese seen in the lower left of the image.

The Great Falls Raceway and Power System Paterson NJ is a recognized historic site. The raceways are a series of canals built above the Great Falls of Paterson that would divert water toward industrial facilities, primarily mills, that we located away from the river. Falling water would great a clean power source to grow Paterson into a major industrial center.

Looking down from the spillway, one can only imagine how many American dreams in the mill below were powered by faling water. Today many of the remaining buildings have been converted to offices, a day care center, and housing where a modern generation embraces the American Dream.

Walking along the wide paths that sit astride the raceways one can see remnants of the power system including the remains of locks, small power plants, and stepped falls. Some of the industrial buildings have ghost images of the original company names on them.

Although built for an industrial purpose, the raceway closest to the Great Falls in Paterson has become a bucolic setting to contemplate the power of green energy.

The Raceways now are home to ducks and small fish, the green material on the water is a plant species commonly called duckweed. Each plant is the about the size of an infants fingernail and has a small strand of roots that train in the water. Most people do not realize that duckweed can be a beneficial plant as it removes nitrogen from the water making it more hospitable to fish and less hospitable to algae.

Just below the Great Falls Raceway, some of the mills have been converted into office space. The iconic dome of the Passaic County courthouse can be seen between the buildings