Monday, May 28, 2007
Yes Virginia, a river really does run through it!
I can remember as a child being told by my parents that Fall River got its name because there used to be a series of waterfalls that cascaded down to the river below and that those waterfalls were buried underground to allow for the building of roads.
In my young mind's eye I pictured amazon-like waterfalls cascading down hillsides entombed as if in a mine shaft, with rough hewn lumber support beams holding up the the built upon street surfaces.
As a child I believed that somewhere under a cover of granite boulders, wooden posts, and dirt an unmolested natural resource gurgled away unknown, unheard and untouched.
The truth is far less idyllic and for more discouraging.
The Quequechan is a vital part of this city's history. The wampanoag word quequechan literally means 'falling river' and it's where Fall River gets its name. It was the river's waterfall that powered Fall River's mills enabling the city to become a giant in the textile industry. This magnificent and mighty river eventually succumbed to industrial abuse. Covered over by those who wanted to harness it's power and polluted as a convenient way to way to remove sewer and waste. Finally, much of the river and its spectacular waterfall were rerouted and bottled up to make way for Rt195 in the 1960's.
From time to time calls to 'daylight' the Quequechan make the paper but other than being a popular bullet point come an election no real action has taken place. Just this past week two members of the city council submitted a resolution to call on our local delegation to include the Quequechan and it's fall in the Water Resources Development Act. This action would make the project eligible for grant funding through the Army Corps of Engineers and could help provide the momentum needed to return the Quequechan River and its waterfall above ground where they belong.