Straightening the Spicket
The Spicket River flows from New Hampshire into the Merrimack River in Lawrence, Massachusetts. The river has changed over the years, particularly during the explosive development of Lawrence and Methuen in the Industrial Revolution. By the late 1880’s the City of Lawrence had enough of the typhoid breeding ground that the river had become and decided to straighten the river. Looking at the first map from the 1850’s followed by a Google map from 2018 you see just how much they changed the Spicket River in the Lawrence stretch.
Unfortunately, they didn’t dig the channel deep enough and the river bed can’t handle the floodwater that were once absorbed by the natural flow of the meandering river that once flowed through the city. Heavy rains combined with spring melt-off creates a flood plain that makes some areas of the city impassible. Perhaps no place carries this burden more than Central Catholic High School, which sits right where the the flood plain once acted as a sponge for the river. The city doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to correct the situation, so every few years there’s a lake where the CCHS parking lot once was. The price of progress, or the price of poor engineering?