Dam Removal Allows Native Fish To Return After 200 Year Absence

For the first time in at least 183 years, native alewife and blueback herring are swimming upstream beyond the former Tack Factory dam. Removing this dam in Norwell, Massachusetts, restored several miles of their ideal spawning habitat. These forage fish supported the once-abundant commercial and recreational Atlantic fisheries. River herring populations reached historical lows due to habitat degradation, overfishing, and severely reduced access to spawning habitat.

Times and priorities change

The first known dam on this site was built in 1677 and provided power for grinding grain and sawing lumber in a thriving ship-building town. In 1834, the dam was rebuilt by two brothers who founded a tack factory to serve the shoe industry. That business continued operations until the mid-20th century. The excavations revealed several major rebuilds and improvements during that time.

The tack factory dam before removal
The tack factory dam before removal


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