Bob Chen ~ Urban Oceanographer

Baker Dam

Where Urban Oceanography Meets History

"Baker Dam is a very interesting intersection between history, science and society. There's real estate value versus historical value versus environmental damage versus environmental restoration - all going on right at that location."

Baker Dam is a data gathering site used in Dr. Bob Chen's research, one of the locations for determining the freshwater end-member of carbon and CEDOM as they move into the Neponset estuary and out to the ocean. The site contains the mixing of salt and fresh water over tidal cycles as well as over circulation patterns that are of interest. Bob's lab is working on modeling those patterns.

The dam was built in 1633 and is considered by some to be the birthplace of the industrial revolution. In 1675 a gun powder mill was established, followed by a chocolate mill which later became the widely recognized Baker Chocolate Company, now gone. All of these early industries benefited from a 15-foot drop in the Neponset River, which provided the power to manufacture goods. Its proximity to the ocean meant that the goods could be easily transported throughout the Eastern seaboard. Today the mills have been converted to luxury housing, and there is mounting pressure to remove the dam and remaining PCB sediments and restore the native anadromous fish runs.