Cochecosystem

Explore the lives built along the Cochecho River

The Cochecho River flows right through the Children's Museum of New Hampshire's backyard, so what better place to learn about it? The multi-faceted Cochecosystem exhibit explores the life of the river, both natural and industrial, as engineered by both animals and people.

Cochecosystem: Industry

Explore the water cycle and divert or damn up the "water" in our River Model. Step back to the time when Dover was a bustling center of textile manufacturing. Enter a mill environment to see how waterpower was harnessed to operate the machinery that transformed raw cotton into woven cloth. Engineer a power train, then comb cotton fibers in a carding machine, wind cotton yarn, and try your hand at a 4-harness weaving loom.

Outside the mill, board a trolley like the ones that transported millworkers. Through photo essays of current descendants, learn more about the people who came here to work in the Cocheco Mills.

Back at the waterfront, a Piscataqua gundalow waits at the dock. This boat brought bales of raw cotton to the mills and carried bolts of newly woven cloth down the Cochecho River to Portsmouth for shipping to distant markets. Step aboard to help load and unload cargo, operate the mast and "navigate" down the river.

Cochecosystem: Nature

Then enter a concentrated river environment to experience how animals use the river to engineer their lives. Become a tiny caddisfly in the quiet upper river as you build yourself a protective case to hide from predators. Midriver, you'll become a busy beaver as you use saplings to construct a lodge. As an osprey in the lower river, you'll put together a nest for your chicks high above the river. Then operate a fish ladder to help alewives swim upriver from the ocean to lay their eggs in the still water where they were born.

Using Dover and the Cochecho River as an example, Cochecosytem demonstrates how rivers everywhere allow life to thrive in many interdependent forms.
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