Derby (WTNH) - Demolition leads to an unusual discovery in Derby. News Channel
8 takes you underground to explore some newly uncovered
It's like walking back in time, into what was the basement of
the first factory built in the city of Derby.
"Well, originally a copper mill was built here. Anson Phelps and
Sheldon Smith built it here, and by 1837 we believe that it was in
operation," explained David Carver, Derby Historical Society.
And it was powered by water that flowed through an aqueduct.
Hardly anybody has seen the tunnel in decades.
"You know, we've had it on these old maps, but very rarely, once
in a while do we come across them in such pristine shape," said
Mayor Anthony Staffieri (R-Derby).
The old maps show a very different city of Derby - a city built
around factories that were powered by water. The water came down
from Ansonia, along what now is the Pershing Drive area and down to
where Home Depot and the police station sit. And from the aqueduct,
water flowed through massive turbines underneath the factory.
"It's called a reaction turbine. It reacts to the flow of the
water. Spins the wheel," Carver said.
Those wheels stayed under this building next to Route 34 until
the building's roof partially collapsed last month. That's when
demolition began, demolition that uncovered the foundation, the
machinery, and the aqueduct. But they are uncovered only
"This is sort of a fleeting glimpse of the past because this is
all going to go away pretty much. It's going to have to go be
filled in and we won't see it again," Carver said.
The bulldozers are covering it up, both for safety and for
progress. The city hopes to build a new downtown development on the
land, so it will all be filled in and flattened.
The turbines were spared and now belong to the historical