Walton’s Mill Dam HABS/HAER Photography

In 2020, the Atlantic Salmon Federation asked me to document the Walton’s Mill Dam, in Farmington, ME, for the Maine Historic Engineering Record (MHER). Working under subcontract to my friends and colleagues at the Northeast Archaeology Research Center in Farmington and with the support of the Farmington Historical Society, the project included HABS/HAER photography and research to produce a historic narrative. It was a terrific project, and a fantastic dam to photograph.

The dam is located on Temple Stream, which flows generally eastward out of the mountains of western Maine before joining Sandy River just south of Farmington. Dams have been located on this spot on Temple Stream, in West Farmington, since the 1780s. The exact date of the current dam could not be located, but it appears to have been built in approximately 1873. Water from the dam powered a number of mills on both sides of Temple Stream, producing lumber and grain, potato starch, and wooden rakes. The final mill at this location, the L.C. Andrews Lumber Company, ceased operations and removed the mill in 1967. In 1977 the L.C. Andrews Company donated the dam and the land on the north side to the Town of Farmington, which then built a small park that overlooks the dam on the downstream side.

In 2009, the National Marine Fisheries Service determined that Temple Stream is a critical habitat for the Atlantic salmon. Because the Atlantic salmon is listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, the Town of Farmington was faced the requirement to mitigate the impacts to the Atlantic salmon caused by the dam. Working with the Atlantic Salmon Federation and with funding from the Fisheries Division of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Town of Farmington voted to go ahead with dam removal. Because of the dam’s historic significance, the Maine Historic Preservation Commission required MHER documentation prior to its removal.