Taylor Falls Controversy

Taylor Falls is a National Water War Historic Site and the location of the Taylor Falls Spillway Attack, an event widely regarded as the starting point for the Water Wars. While official documents regarding the incident have been sealed, this map provides an overview of the area and the controversial events that transpired.

Around 10:45 PM on the night of October 14th, 1942, approximately nine members of the Stillwater Chapter of the Vivid Suffragette Union congregated in the dim light below the dam along the Taylor Falls spillway. Covert Unionists typically worked in groups of threes, and the reason for the unusually large gathering is only one of many unanswered questions surrounding the event. Many historians suggest that an incorrectly encoded bolus cache ordered three unionist cells to the site; other prominent conspiracy theorists state that Utterance Army operatives intercepted a bolus cache and planted a false message as part of an elaborate unionist setup. Another less likely scenario is that the Stillwater Chapter were attempting to destroy the dam, an audacious plan that would require several members working in concert; however little evidence supports this theory.

At 10:53 PM, Stanley Fisch, a construction supervisor for Stone & Webster Engineering Corporation, noted in the powerhouse logbook that he heard noises by the spillway and went to investigate. However, suspicions surround Fisch's presence at the powerhouse at such an hour. Stone & Webster press release stated that Fisch had substituted for the regular powerhouse keeper, which would explain why he did not follow security protocols by summoning the dam guards; but Fisch seems an unlikely replacement for the keeper given he had no experience in tending powerhouses, and a search of the keeper's quarters revealed none of Fisch's personal belongings. This is unusual given the twelve-hour shift Fisch was working.


Little evidence exists about what transpired next except, though it is clear that Fisch made his way down the spillway and confronted the Unionists (1). Dam maintenance workers reported hearing shouts followed by two gunshots. Fisch, mortally wounded, dragged himself back to the powerhouse and pulled the alarm, then died moments later from a gunshot to the back and a stab wound to the abdomen. The dam's security forces arrived at the scene, intercepting the fleeing Unionists' truck at the junction of the spillway access road and State Highway 8 (2). A ferocious gun battle ensued, but miraculously there were no reported casualties. The spray of bullets crippled the guards' jeep, allowing the Unionists to escape into the night.

Given its historical import, the episode is the subject of much controversy and the events leading up to the attack are fraught with unanswered questions. How is it that Fisch received a stab wound in addition to being shot in the back, and how did he make it back to the powerhouse without being overtaken by the Unionists? Critics also point to the sequence of the events. The Taylor Falls security forces have a ten-minute response time for all emergency calls yet they arrived at the scene at 11:01, only three minutes after Fisch sounded the alarm, and just in time to head off the fleeing Unionists. Also, the only eye-witnesses of the evenings events are employees of the Stone & Webster Engineering Corporation. Conspiracy theorists go so far as to claim that no Unionists were present that night, and that the entire event was staged in order to push the long-simmer conflict into all-out war.

This position is complicated by the fact that of Taylor Falls dam has been revealed as a hotbed for Unionist activity. Multiple bolus caches have been recovered from the site (green tacks) and Utterance Army code breakers state Taylor Falls was a frequent meeting place in the region. The government stands by the official report while the Vivid Suffragette Union denies any involvement in the area. For now these questions must remain unanswered. The debate however rages on.

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