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Powering the Dream by Alexis Madrigal

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chapter 4
Prescribing for the Globe Itself
LOWELL’S CLEANLINESS did not come without a price, however. The owners of Lowell’s factories, a loosely affiliated group of Yankee businessmen known as the Boston Associates, had to permanently alter the rivers they used for power. Over the decades between the town’s founding and the middle of the century, they built an enormous machine, a system that eventually spread over 103 square miles of waterway. They saw nothing wrong with their use of the river’s water as a commodity for producing power.1 One historian summarized that
realizing that nature could not be depended upon for continuous water power at maximum capacity which was needed for full realization of their productive ability—summer droughts ...

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