By kkeps @ 2009-01-04 10:44:17
In 1920, the powerful Arlington Mills of Lawrence bought the remains of Wheeler’s Mill, along with 350 acres in North Salem. The grand plan was to dam the Spicket River and create a billion-gallon reservoir. Successful completion of the project would assure a steady flow of water to keep Arlington’s downstream looms producing year-round. The huge Arlington Dam rose 48 feet from the Spicket River’s bed. A 550-foot concrete-cored dike was built some distance to its east, and a smaller, earthen dike was built to the west. Trees cut from the reservoir site yielded over a million feet of lumber – some of which was used as framing for the concrete work. Construction of the Arlington Dam (now known as Wheeler Dam) and reservoir took most of three years to complete. It was finally filled in the spring of 1923, turning what was once a large part of North Salem into an underwater ghost town. The dam immediately became a popular spot for picnics and sightseeing.