• A Red Letter Day in Fall River

    Christmas came early this year for those who enjoy Fall River history and have an interest in the Borden case and the enigmatic Miss Lizzie.  Parallel Lives was released this morning to the public. By 11: 30 a.m. a long line snaked its way down the pavement toward Maple Street and there was a feeling of restless expectation in the air as the noon hour approached. .  A man came around the corner bearing two copies of the coveted tome as heads swiveled to catch a glimpse.  A spontaneous outburst of appreciation went up from the crowd followed by many comments as to the  SIZE of the massive tome.

    No preview copies were released for reviewing to anyone, so it was with enormous excitement today’s release was anticipated.  Beginning on Friday, the benefactors of the publication enjoyed a special gathering, followed by Saturday night’s annual Christmas Open House for members, and capping off an extraordinary weekend with today’s public release of the book, viewing of a special exhibit of materials featured in the book (cards, letters, gifts Lizzie presented to friends, etc.) and a tour of the Christmas decorations, always an annual treat.

    The authors held court in the front parlor at a beautifully decorated table with a red rose Christmas arrangement, signing autographs and having photographs taken with visitors.  On the lawn, on the stairs, and anywhere one could sit, people clutched their volume, looking eagerly through the pages. From all corners came appreciative little shrieks of excitement as never-before-seen photos were discovered, especially those showing Lizzie herself. Even those who vowed not to ruin the surprise until they could sit at leisure soon gave way to overwhelming curiosity and were soon leafing furiously through the pages. Some had driven hours to pick up their copies.

    It would be presumptuous to attempt any sort of review of this major work until the whole was digested, therefore the Warps & Wefts review will be forthcoming in the near future.  Suffice it to say, Parallel Lives is as plummy a Christmas pudding as anyone could ever wish for, chock full of juicy morsels, delicious facts and photos, fascinating history, surprises and many hours of enthralled reading.  To reveal too much would be to ruin your own Christmas surprise- so-

    Just spring to your sleigh, to your team give a whistle,

    To Rock Street fly like the down of a thistle.

    Parallel Lives is the gift sure to please, so take heed,

    Happy holidays to all, and to all a good read!

  • Spinner Publications & Keeley Library

    Although many of these publications are out of print, Amazon and Ebay frequently have Volume 3 and 4 of Spinner at a good price.  Volume 4 has many wonderful old photos of Fall River and New Bedford, and features articles and interviews which give invaluable details of the “good old days”.  Mrs. Florence Brigham, former curator of the Fall River Historical Society, gives a memorable interview about her memories growing up in the city. The history of ice cream parlors in New Bedford is another article full of information and charm.

    Spinner Publications site posts on new publications, calendars, maps, etc. and maintains an unparalleled archives of vintage photos.

    Also not to be missed, for the serious student of Fall River history, is the Keeley Library Online collection of photographs and postcards, Fall River yearbooks and articles- many hours of free online material to enjoy if you cannot come to Fall River. (articles) (index page) (vintage slides of the city)

  • The Falls in Fall River

    Most visitors to Fall River today never link the name of the city to waterfalls mostly because one has to hunt to find the falls. 

    The Quequechan River, nearly 3 miles long, (pronounced “Quick-a-shan” by natives), is the river that flows in a northwesterly direction from the South Watuppa Pond to the Taunton River. The word Quequechan means “falling water” in Wampanoag, which is the origin of the city’s name.  At one time, there were eight falls between the Taunton River and where South Main St. is today.

    When route 195 was built running beneath Government Center during the 1960’s, much of the river west of Plymouth Avenue was re-routed by a series of box culverts.  It takes a careful eye to spot the few places in the city where a glimpse of the old Quequechan can still be seen.  There is a small view at Hartwell and Fourth streets.

     The most impressive view can be found on Anawan Street near the Work Out World gym where a section of surging river sweeps beneath a granite arch and then plunges down on the other side.  With the Spring rain and melted snow swelling the river, April is the time to see the falls in their glory, flanked by enormous growths of pussey willows on the banks. It’s easy to imagine how the force of the falling water and coursing river was a boon to powering the great mills long ago. (video by Chris Striker Bound, April 1, 2011).

    (wild pussey willows, photos by Chris Striker Bound)

  • Remembering Sarah Morse Borden

    Remembering today:  Sarah Anthony Morse Borden  1823-1863, first wife of Andrew J. Borden and mother of Emma Lenora, Alice Esther and Lizzie Andrew Borden.  She was the sister of John Vinnicum Morse, born September 19, 1823 in Somerset, Massachusetts. Daughter of Anthony and Rhody (Morrison) Morse, she married Andrew on Christmas day, 1845.  Sarah died in Fall River on March 26, 1863.


    and remembering

    the 146 garment workers of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of March 25, 1911 on the 100th anniversary of the New York City disaster.

  • Spring comes to Fall River


    With all of the rain and snow melt of the past few months, the Quequechan river is swollen and the current is running fast under the granite arch.  The river can be seen “daylighted” at a few spots around the city. The most impressive place may be on Anawan Street, near the Work Out World smoke stack.  The falls are roaring and the water level touches the old granite arch as the river surges through.  The ducks are back at Heritage Park and there are signs of Spring everywhere.

    A visit to the Border City mill revealed a bustling curtain factory business on the top floor.  Mr. Raposa employs twenty-four workers Monday-Friday, and has been at the site for twenty-two years.  The mill is built to stand the test of time and the light streaming through the many windows cascades across the oak floors as it did in 1880.

    Underneath the Braga bridge, currently half green and half blue, the river courses at a lively pace beneath the old railroad tracks.  There are some spectacular views of the mills and the river from behind the railroad museum under the Braga bridge.