Millpond Dike

By Noah Eckersley-Ray, Connor Jansen, Emery John, and Hannah Rosenberg

The Millpond Dike (Figure 1) is a large earthwork in the Carleton Cowling Arboretum that once held back the Cannon River to power the Waterford Mill, which the class worked on in 2019. The dike was built in conjunction with a dam which provided power for the mill. Dikes are typically used to diverge water that would otherwise flood a region into a designated flood plain, allowing for dams to hold and rivers to maintain safe water levels. The dike reflects the rich milling history in southeastern Minnesota and has since become a trail in the Cowling Arboretum. The significance of the dike to our class derived from its potential connection to the quarry site, which could offer insight into the history of the mill and earthwork construction in the region. Our project consisted of an excavation, an examination of the documentary history related to the dike, and a calculation of the labor required to build it (the energetics).