The Quabbin Reservoir is a vast man made body of water in central/Western Massachusetts. It was created in the late 1930’s as a solution to the problem of having enough drinking water for the ever growing city of Boston.
What many people may not realize, is that this solution caused the displacement of the residents of 4 towns (dana, Prescott, Greenwich and Enfield) that were to be disincorporated and dismantled to make this project possible. The creation of the Quabbin Reservoir was made possible by the damming of the swift river, flooding of the swift river valley with 412 billion gallons of water and putting the majority of these towns lands underwater.
There are, however, a few places with remnants remaining above water. The largest being the old Dana Common as well as the road leading to it. It can be reached at gate 40 on route 32A (Hardwick Rd) In Petersham, MA.
We have been to this spot MANY times in the last 9 years and the best time, by FAR, to visit is in the fall. Come October, the bugs are gone and the plant life is thinning, making it easier to see the otherwise hidden remains of what were peoples livelihoods.
There are a few amazing books and even a video about the Quabbin that our definitely worth checking out. Our favorite author on the subject is J.R. Greene. Our favorites are: Historic Quabbin Hikes, Strange Tales From Old Quabbin and The Lost Towns of Quabbin Valley.
This is Abigail, about 3 or 4 years old, walking up the sidewalk leads to the town hall and the school house. This is all that remains of the school house that resided next to the cemetery.
One of the most prominent remains, the foundation of the old Vaughn home. A truly amazing construction that was made entirely of river rocks from the Swift River.
Old foundations are not the only thing that remains. These 80 year old paved roads and sidewalks are in better condition (in some places) than many of todays Massachusetts roads! Though once you get past the Dana Common the road has not faired so well.
The kids checking out a concrete foundation, an old well and taking a rest “outside” the church which was located (oddly) across the common from the cemetery.
Taking a break for lunch in the Common and Abigail (I know it looks like Emily but this was a few years ago) pointing out the commemorative stone that resides at the point of the common. It reads:
Site of Dana Common
To All Those Who
Homes And Way
Dana Reunion 1996
Here is a video of some of our exploration:
There is also a fantastic video about what remains have been found underneath the Quabbin. What was intended to be under the waterline was allegedly cleared (and for the most part it was) but there were some incredible things left behind. The filming of this documentary has been the only time divers have been allowed into the Quabbin that I am aware of. For your convenience I have embedded the video into this post. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
Check out these awesome books about the Quabbin and its people: