I think my first pix thread here was on the Front Street waterpower district in Dayton. This is a continuation and elaboration of that thread.

Front Street was a part of an early to mid 19th century developement of waterpower in Dayton, mostly occuring before the Civil War. These represent some of the first large scale industrial developement in Dayton, as well as an early local use of the joint stock limited liabilty "corporate" form of buisness:



There were three joint stock hydraulic companies, operating four races, three of which where oriented around the Miami & Erie Canal. Individual industries also used the canal as a waterpower source, but the these three, the Cooper Hydraulic, Dayton View Hydraulic, and Dayton Hydraulic, developed multi-industry sites around availability of waterpower.

All have left a mark on the local urban landscape, but the Dayton Hydraulic Company (DHC, also known as the "Upper Hydraulic) has had the greatest impact, and, believe it or not, is still in buisness...



The Dayton Hydraulic Company also operated as a real estate developer in conjunction with their waterpower resource, as illustrated from an early prospectus, which empahsised lots as much as the hydraulic race



The concept of operations for the DHC was to tap the Mad River at the modern Eastwood park (raising and diverting the flow via a dam), and conduct water via a race roughly following the 750' contour, at the edge of the drop to the Mad River floodplain, to industrial sites near Dayton. Tailraces would conduct the used water to the Miami & Erie Canal.



The DHC opened for buisness in the 1840s and was a success, helping to focus east of Dayton, as illustrated by this early 1870s map:



The company apparentley planned to expand their waterpower sites to the east, as indicated by the projected extension of the "side canal" tailrace parallel to 1st Street



And here is a excerpt of a panoramic view of Dayton (courtesy of the Library of Congress) contemporary with the above map, with the industrial developement outlined in red (the race does not show in this illustration)




By the 1870s industry in Dayton was already converting to steam engines as a prime mover, but the DHC continued to supply waterpower into the 1880s, as indicated by a mention in1885 Industrial Census volume on "The Water-Power of the United States". The following excerpt provides an excellent discussion of the DHC operations and users at that time:

"The race extends about 2 1/2 miles down to the city, and, with one exception, the mills are located at its extremity. The race is irregular in width, but is estimated to have ample capacity, when not obstructed by ice, for passing 10,000 cubic feet of water per minute; when frozen over its capacity is diminished at times to 8,000 cubic feet…Water is supplied for power to three flouring-mills, two paper-mills, two flax-mills, two plow manufactories, and one linseed oil-mill. The tail-water from these mills is discharged into the Miami and Erie Canal. The hydraulic company has a contract with the state, by virtue of which it is entitled to discharge into the canal 10,000 cubic feet of water, provided no injury be done to the canal. The head and fall is reckoned at 15 feet, but is subject to slight variations from changes in level in the head- and tail-race. The leases permit the use of overshot wheels of 13 1/2 feet diameter, and that class of wheel is employed in all cases, except by the Meade Paper Company, the largest single user of power, this company having turbines. Water is drawn from the race through rectangular apertures between square-edged metallic plates, which are adjustable. The aperture is as close as convenient to the wheel, the width of opening being governed by the width of the wheel, for overshots, and the depth by the quantity of water to be supplied. As the level in the races varies the aperture is correspondingly adjusted and the power is maintained comparatively uniform. "

"A run of water is here fixed at 233 1/3 cubic feet per minute, under a head and fall of 15 feet. There are assumed to be 26 1/4 permanent runs, and for the average of a series of years the assumption is stated to prove quite accurate. In January 1883, all these runs had been leased, and in addition 24 temporary runs, liable to be shut off in low water. The rate charged for permanent power is $200 per annum, and the same in proportion for temporary power. Throughout the year 1882 there was sufficient water for all the runs, both permanent and temporary, and a waste on the demand besides…Both land and water are leased to manufacturers by the hydraulic company."


..at that time 500 HP of waterpower was used, and 650 HP of auxiliary steam power.

But that was not to last. As you can see from this enlargement from the early prospectus the race extended well into East Dayton.



..and eventually went dry as waterpower ceased to be used in the early 19th Century (The main user, Mead Paper, had pulled out before WWI). This left a dry ditch snaking through East Dayton, as can be seen in the following aerial (image courtesy of WSU Dunbar Library special collections dept.) (the dry race is outlined in red)




Apparently the DHC was left with an obsolete technology that was also real estate, and chose to redevelop the dry hydraulic race ROW as industrial sites, albeit long narrow industrial sites. Thus we can see the route of the hydraulic race in the following arial photos, via the line of long narrow ndustrial buildings snaking along Springfield Street through East Dayton (outlined in red)...





..and an enlarged aerial around the vicinity of the Springfield/Monument/Findlay Street intersection


So, the DHC survived into the present day. I have no idea if the company still owns the land or if its still involved in local real estate. The company supposedly has the oldest corporate charter in Ohio, making it the only survivor from the earliest days of industrial Dayton.

What does the area look like on the ground? The following is a pix tour, starting from the west end of the the race, following it to around Irwin Street on the east, with detours into the surrounding neighborhoods.



An old brick factory on the site of one of the early industries in the 1870s map above. Perhaps a survivor from the waterpower era. The 15' fall from the 750 contour is visible here






A foundry..the street bend follows the line of the race




"Mill, Shop, and Factory...The industrial life of Dayton, Ohio". People have been manufacturing at these sites since the 1840s...again, the fall is visible in some pix...












Note the trees and sidewalk..this was also a working class residential area, but the houses where removed in the post WWII era and the area repositioned as sort of an in-town industrial zone for new and expanded plants


Concrete pipe and rock as tree planters


The last surviving house from the antebellum working class neighborhood, now the offices for the foundry upthread.


Modern industry/buisness to the left, foundry to the right.


A strange structure...it looks like the beginnings of a factory built into the side of the hill, but nothing on top


Leaving the original waterpower industrial area we follow the hydraulic race east via the twisting alleys and curved and narrow factorys...






This neighborhood was going to be extension of the waterpower industrial sites but was sold off and subdivided in the 1920s.


Continuing through alleys and around factories...a few adjacent areas, too..








Narrow factories and curvey alleys on the hydraulic race ROW










..following the fall into the Mad River floodplain




Since industry is declining, even these "new" factories are being torn down...here you can see a site that is missing its factory, just a sidewalk leading up to a parking lot


Some adjacent areas...the intersection of Springfield and 1st Streets, with a part of the former Brownell Company plant..this was a boiler and steam engine maker and located at this site in the 1880s




Downtown over an industrial jumble...


And some adjacent neighborhoods, staring with doubles and a brick street...quintessentially "Dayton":


(I have no idea what this was..its in the middle of a residential area)


...setting the wayback machine in reverse..what this area might have looked like when it was being subdivided?


Mad River Valley industrial sheds in the backround.


Goodbye from along the Upper Hydraulic