30 August 2012

Quabbin Musings Part 2: The Visuals

The following photos are labeled and selected to give you a flavor of the Quabbin, obviously I was able to see only a small part of the overall region. I also listed the locations in the order I visited them and gave only approximate locations. I would recommend going back to read my previous posts, Quabbin Musing Part 1: The Saga for the background on the Quabbin Resevoir and A Walk in the Woods to see what I wore for my adventure. I have provided a brief description of each. If you are interested further there is a lot of great information on the web through the Friends of Quabbin, Swift River Valley Historical Society, and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. I also used Michael Tougias' book Quabbin: A History and Explorer's Guide to learn as much as I could and plan my trip, it is amazingly comprehensive.

Stop One: Quabbin Park Cemetery, Ware Road between the East and Middle entrances to Quabbin Park

A view of Quabbin Park Cemetery with the office in the distance (and my car parked in front of it) though laid out in a typical garden park cemetery style, unfortunately the integrity of the original cemeteries was not maintained. So if Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones were buried next to each other in Prescott they didn't necessarily end up together here, burials were placed more according to when their families decided to move them and based on the number of empty lots they still had remaining on the burial

Graves dating back to the mid-1700's were moved, some of them very unique like this hand carved effigy for a local church deacon. The majority of the stones are not impressive in the traditional sense that graveyard art is, there are few great monuments here, but then again these were simple farmers, with simple headstones of New England slate, well worn marble, and later uniform polished granite.

All four of the Lost Towns had their war memorials removed to Quabbin Park Cemetery, as you can see the date is October of 1938, six months after the towns were disincorporated. If you visit Dana's common however the base for their cannon remains some 1.5 miles into the woods.

Stop Two: Enfield Overlook, 
Quabbin Park Middle Entrance (1.6 miles from entrance)

An excellent visual to show how the land changed over the past 80 years, once a bustling community Enfield held on through most of the reservoir's construction as the headquarters, the town hall with its tower in the middle of the 1927 photo was the last building to go after holding the April 28, 1938 Farewell Ball.

The view today, overlooking the former town of Enfield, originally the largest on the Lost Towns

Stop Three: Goodnough Dike, 
Quabbin Park Middle Entrance (3.8 miles from entrance)

The Goodnough Dike and the bottom of the Quabbin Reservoir, though paved no unofficial vehicles are allowed and on the other side is nothing but lots of woods, its an easy 1/4 mile hike into the woods on a paved trail

The backside of the dike, this land was all solid forest in the middle of bone dry farmland, its an interesting contrast to see the massive reservoir on one side and rolling green hills on the other, it also makes you a little nervous....this is all thats holding all that water back?

The view up the Quabbin from the hiking trail out to the Goodnough Dike

I don't know about you but when I was a kid every lake I ever swam in was gross and your hair and skin smelled gross for about a week after you got out of the water not matter how much you showered. The picture doesn't do the clarity of the water justice, but it is astonishingly clear and clean.

Stop Four: Winsor Dam and Spillway,
Quabbin Park Middle Entrance, parking just inside the gate

The Winsor Dam spillway was slow they day I was there, however its been slow all year. 2012 is the first year in the past seven where the Quabbin has not been at its maximum capacity. Not to worry just yet, the reservoir would have to drop below 40% of its capacity for the water supply to actually suffer and its quality be compromised. 

The rules are strict, but then again think about most lakes you've been in. All of the things that go in the water, are generally not things you would want to be drinking, all of this means that Quabbin Park is unlike most recreation areas, and patrols keep things in line.

While you cannot drive across the dam (presumably official vehicles can) it is as wide as a normal 2 lane road and foot and bicycle traffic is allowed to traverse the 1/2 stretch. These three brother zipped back and forth as I walked over several times, from what I could hear their mother shouting, Max the daredevil in black at the lead often forgets that his bike has brakes.

Stop Five: Headquarters for the Department 
of Conservation and Recreation at the Quabbin Reservoir 
and Belchertown State Police Barracks

The headquarters are located at the third entrance to the park, however you can actually just walk the 1/2 mile across Winsor Dam from the Middle Entrance to the headquarters, its actually much longer to drive it.

The DCR controls the main part of the building, the state police barrack are located at the far end, with garages for their cruisers, ambulance, and dive unit. They also maintain a fleet of boats for water patrol and rescue located near the Winsor Dam Spillway.

The men in charge, most noteworthy being Frank Winsor who the Winsor dam is named for, along the road to the Goodnough Dike there is a small park dedicated to him, as Winsor did not live to see his creation completed

This map shows the locations of the four lost towns, Enfield and Greenwich are both about 100% underwater, Dana however is almost 90% above, in fact through gate 40 (I believe) you can actually walk to the town common which the DCR keeps neat and mowed and though there are no houses you can still see stone walls, hitching posts, etc. Prescott is about 50/50, the part that remains above water is called the Prescott Peninsula the long finger of land that separated what was once Enfield from Greenwich. The historical society runs two bus trip out there every year (its restricted land) I signed up for the one in October.

The money shot, a view directly up the center of the Quabbin from the steps of the DCR headquarters, not surprisingly, its probably the best view on the reservoir.

Stop Six: Swift River Valley Historical 
Society Museum, New Salem, MA

The Whitaker House (built 1816) holds the bulk of the museum's collection, all donated, and detailing the history of the Swift River Valley from 1750 when the towns were founded until 1938 when they were disincorporated. The museum was started in the 1960's and its collection has grown over the years to include thousands of objects mainly examples of simple, everyday, life.

The carriage barn was constructed to hold the larger items, mainly farm equipment from the valley, there is also a small one room school house set up along with other outdoor artifacts like a Native American canoe.

Dana fire engine, circa 1930 in the carriage barn, in the background you can see signs salvaged from the lost towns some also point the way to nearby towns that were spared. The museum takes in everything imaginable, a lot of it which would normally be junk, for example all of the buildings overflow with glass bottles by the thousands.

The historical society bought the church (originally built in 1837) in 1986, it stood only 20 feet inside the limits of the DCR controlled area, but still had to be moved to South Orange and was later slated for destruction. Today it holds only artifacts from the lost town of Prescott, and historical society records in the basement.

The interior of the church much as it was at the time of disincorporation, the stained glass windows still have the names of original donors, only small improvements like padding on the pews have been made. The church is used for lectures and concerts by the historical society.

...And for a bit of levity....I give you Ned. Ned "lives" in the basement o the Prescott church, which is the office for genealogy. Those seeking to learn about their ancestors in the Swift River Valley come here, its also the staff lunch room, because it is the only heated and air conditioned room in the  museum complex. Ned belonged to a jeweler in one of the Lost Towns and was famous because the only words he knew were "go to hell". I guess the joke is on him, the towns and almost everyone in them are long gone and he's still hanging around, his beady eyes vocalizing the same message quite well.

No comments:

Post a Comment