Lowell in Middlesex County, Massachusetts — The American Northeast (New England)
In 1850, he constructed the Great Gate, an extraordinary wooden structure measuring 25 feet by 27 feet and held up by an iron shackle. Critics called the massive floodgate "Francis’ Folly." Two years later, at 3:30 A.M. on April 22, 1852, workers used hammer and chisel to drop the gate before the rampaging river flooded downtown Lowell, thus "saving" the city.
Caption, large picture: The flood of 1936, seen here at the University Bridge, left most of Lowell’s downtown unscathed. This monumental event so affected young Jack Kerouac that he invoked it as a symbol for nature’s power in his novel Dr. Sax (1959).
Caption, small picture: In 1936, for the second time, workers (left) dropped the Great Gate. They cut the iron shackle and the massive 20-ton gate descended, shaking dishes in a cottage nearby.
Newspaper quotation, top right: The inhabitants of
Erected by Lowell National Historical Park and National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.
Location. 42° 38.589′ N, 71° 19.765′ W. Marker is in Lowell, Massachusetts, in Middlesex County. Marker can be reached from Broadway Street. Click for map. Marker is in Francis Gate Park next to the Great Gate. It is off to the left side of Broadway Street when traveling east, just before the bridge over the Pawtucket Canal. Marker is in this post office area: Lowell MA 01854, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Great Gate (a few steps from this marker); Keepers of the Gate (approx. 0.8 miles away); Stele for the Merrimack (approx. 0.8 miles away); Lowell Manufacturing Company (approx. 0.8 miles away); Welcome to Lowell National Historical Park (approx. 0.8 miles away); The Worker Meetinghouse Hill (approx. 0.9 miles away); Merrimack St. Depot (approx. 0.9 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Lowell.
Also see . . . Wikipedia entry. In addition to the Great Gate, James B. Francis is remembered for improvements to turbines and for devising a gravity-powered sprinkler system that helped protect Lowell’s textile mills from devastating fires. (Submitted on April 28, 2011, by Roger W. Sinnott of Chelmsford, Massachusetts.)
Categories. • Man-Made Features • Waterways & Vessels •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Roger W. Sinnott of Chelmsford, Massachusetts. This page has been viewed 638 times since then and 43 times this year. Last updated on , by Michael Tiernan of Danvers, Massachusetts. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on , by Roger W. Sinnott of Chelmsford, Massachusetts. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.