Walking along the penstock in New Ipswich

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I’ve lived in New Ipswich for over 40 years and was completely unaware of a penstock that ran from Bank Village to Highbridge. New Ipswich had many mills that were powered by the Souhegan River. It is believed that it was constructed in the late 19th century.

After I posted a photo on Facebook many long time residents told stories about the pipe, how the leaks would form ice sculptures, how they rode their bikes along the pipe, had picnics and a few accidents.

I find it ironic that I learned that we already had a pipeline in town which used to carry water and that Kinder-Morgan wants to build one to carry explosive gas. We have a pipe, we don’t need another.

Retaining wall at Highbridge
I first learned of the penstock during repair work for Highbridge. Excavation revealed an open pipe. The crew welded a plate to cover it. Clearly visible in this photo.
penstock trail
This part of the trail made me a bit nervous. The drop to the river is probably 40 feet. Imagine riding a bike along this.
Access hatch
When I came across this access hatch I speculated what life forms may inhabit this space.
Penstock trail
The pipe does take a few turns through the woods. I have been suffering with some vertigo when I took this walk which in retrospect was not very clever of me, especially since I didn’t let anyone know I was going to do this. Thankfully I had a monopod for my camera to use as a walking stick.
Penstock Trail
It’s a unique walk through the woods. The pipe has many holes along the seams and a number of patches. It ends in Bank Village in the woods where is crosses a stream about 10 feet high. I opted NOT to walk that part.
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