North Station, Charles River Draw, & Tower A

Arlington

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[Before] the Charles river locks are in place here [how could] large boats...get in and out? Was there another route I'm not seeing?
^Timing moves to High Tide, similar to Chelsea Creek? (And/or a better dredged, less silted harbor)
 

JeffDowntown

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Potentially a dumb question, but my curiosity is piqued: it doesn't look like the Charles river locks are in place here yet, so what was the point of these drawbridges back then if large boats couldn't get in and out? Was there another route I'm not seeing?
I believe your question is actually a bit backwards. The Charles River Dam Locks actually restrict the size of boats that can enter the Charles River Basin.

Before the old Dam (at Leverett Circle) (1910) and then the newer dam (1978), the mouth of the Charles was very much part of the harbor. Large ships serviced the docks in East Cambridge and used the Broad and Lechmere canals to access manufacturing sites inland there.

Even with the size restrictions, first imposed by the two locks of the old Charles River Dam (one of the locks was under the Museum of Science Parking Garage), the lower Charles Basin remains navigable water, so the drawbridges are required to allow taller vessels, like sail craft, to enter. (Just like the Craigie Drawbridge on the old dam.)
 

bigpicture7

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I believe your question is actually a bit backwards. The Charles River Dam Locks actually restrict the size of boats that can enter the Charles River Basin.

Before the old Dam (at Leverett Circle) (1910) and then the newer dam (1978), the mouth of the Charles was very much part of the harbor. Large ships serviced the docks in East Cambridge and used the Broad and Lechmere canals to access manufacturing sites inland there.

Even with the size restrictions, first imposed by the two locks of the old Charles River Dam (one of the locks was under the Museum of Science Parking Garage), the lower Charles Basin remains navigable water, so the drawbridges are required to allow taller vessels, like sail craft, to enter. (Just like the Craigie Drawbridge on the old dam.)
Thanks! Your comments answered my questions about alternate routes (which I assumed there were)...I didn't know about the lock under the present-day MoS Garage.

When I said large boats, I just meant compared to any passageways visible in that photo. Indeed, the present locks are size-limiting (commensurate with decline of industrial use cases I suppose).
 

ceo

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The structure in the photo that's where the locks are now is, I believe, the old Charlestown Bridge (which was also a drawbridge).
 

Charlie_mta

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The structure in the photo that's where the locks are now is, I believe, the old Charlestown Bridge (which was also a drawbridge).
It was called the Beverly Street Bridge and it was still largely intact (though not in use) in the 1950's and 60's. I used to see it as I rode on the Charlestown Elevated over the Washington Street Bridge. The Beverly Street Bridge had a wooden deck with trolley car rails in it, still visible in the 1960's.
 

BeeLine

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It was called the Beverly Street Bridge and it was still largely intact (though not in use) in the 1950's and 60's. I used to see it as I rode on the Charlestown Elevated over the Washington Street Bridge. The Beverly Street Bridge had a wooden deck with trolley car rails in it, still visible in the 1960's.
Where was the Warren Bridge? Or is it just another name for the Beverly Street Bridge. I know the North Washington Street Bridge was often referred to as the Charlestown Bridge. Just like the Harvard Bridge often called the Massachusetts Ave Bridge.

Oops! Thanks Ege..
 

Charlie_mta

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Where was the Warren Bridge? Or is it just another name for the Beverly Street Bridge. I know the North Washington Street Bridge was often referred to as the Charlestown Bridge. Just like the Harvard Bridge often called the Massachusetts Ave Bridge.

Oops! Thanks Ege..
You're right, the Warren Bridge was the name. I don't know where I came up with Beverly Street Bridge. A looong time ago.
 

FK4

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It was called the Beverly Street Bridge and it was still largely intact (though not in use) in the 1950's and 60's. I used to see it as I rode on the Charlestown Elevated over the Washington Street Bridge. The Beverly Street Bridge had a wooden deck with trolley car rails in it, still visible in the 1960's.
Always love hearing your remembrances, Charlie... you recall a lot of deep history with great little details, brings it all to life.
 

whighlander

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I believe your question is actually a bit backwards. The Charles River Dam Locks actually restrict the size of boats that can enter the Charles River Basin.

Before the old Dam (at Leverett Circle) (1910) and then the newer dam (1978), the mouth of the Charles was very much part of the harbor. Large ships serviced the docks in East Cambridge and used the Broad and Lechmere canals to access manufacturing sites inland there.

Even with the size restrictions, first imposed by the two locks of the old Charles River Dam (one of the locks was under the Museum of Science Parking Garage), the lower Charles Basin remains navigable water, so the drawbridges are required to allow taller vessels, like sail craft, to enter. (Just like the Craigie Drawbridge on the old dam.)
Jeff -- I don't believe that anything much larger than today's 4th of July Barges or the tourist boats were able to use the Charles -- its not the locks its the depth of the river that limits the vessels

Coal barges were the most common users of the Broad Canal servicing both the Cambridge Electric Light Company [now the Veolia Kendall Cogeneration Station steam for heating and electricity] and the Cambridge Gas Light Company [manufacture of gas from coal which is today replaced by Natural Gas]


 

JeffDowntown

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Charlie_mta

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Always love hearing your remembrances, Charlie... you recall a lot of deep history with great little details, brings it all to life.
Thank you, that's very nice. The Warren Bridge closed when the original elevated Central Artery opened in the early 1950's, but it was left standing until the Charles River Dam replaced it. It left quite an impression on me as a kid, seeing this wide, wooden, somewhat rotten looking abandoned bridge deck with trolley car rails.
 

whighlander

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Jeff -- had to be tide -- the Charles like all tidal estuaries at the point where they meet the ocean was constantly being re-manufactured by the actions of the wind, tides and storms

Average depths at low tide from the Craigie Bridge to the West Boston Bridge [Longfellow] were in the few feet range -- but in the few hours around high tide you had 10 feet to work with

That was a major motivation for building the dam where the MOS is located -- provide a relatively constant water level for small draft craft upstream of the dam

Note the non-opening bridges [West Boston -- Longfellow bridge 26 ft clearance under the arch at mean high water and the later Mass Ave bridge which was originally had a 48 foot wide opening span in the center of the bridge] clearly defined the size of craft that could ply the Charles


from the above Plan for the Charles River [circa 1880] the river was dredged below the Craigie Bridge to the depth sufficient for the largest ships at the time 28 ft
However while there is a channel of somewhat lesser depth up to near to the West Boston Bridge -- the channel which is indicated at the opening span is only about 10 ft depth and the opening span seems quite narrow

That all would be consistent with barges only beyond the West Boston Bridge [plan ends there]
 

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