AT WORK- Workmen pause for a photograph at the site of the
stone dam on the Connecticut River at Hadley Falls in 1849. Such work gangs
were predominantly Irish immigrants who eventually built much of Western Massachusetts.
Historians say about 400 immigrants were brought in to build the dam and canals.
(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved. Contact us for information about using this image.
Many people think that immigration by the Irish to America started with the potato famine of the mid-1840s. As this article states, that is untrue and the Irish were in the colonies almost from the beginning.
Between 1820 and 1860, the Irish comprised over one third of all immigrants to the United States. Living conditions in Ireland were terrible with food scarce even before the great potato famine of 1845. According to the Earl of Darnley, the state of the Irish people was worse than the slaves in the West Indies. Many of the Irish immigrants in the early 1800s were employed building canals and railroads. The power dam at Hadley Falls was built in 1848 was actually a timber crib dam, not one of stone. It is likely that this picture dates from 1900, when the wooden dam was replaced by a granite faced concrete one.