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The Quabbin *Virtual Mini-Tour*

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The Quabbin *Virtual Mini-Tour*

Postby Chuey » Sat Jan 24, 2015 2:50 am

Hi everyone! Most recently I've gotten a huge kick out of a place in the eastern part of Western Massachusetts called the Quabbin Reservoir. I've been wanting to make an NSC post about this place, but I've neglected to during my first week of classes. I hope you guys will enjoy this not-so-special write-up and some of the photos I've taken. This is a virtual tour for you guys! All photos were taken by me and they are linked from my Facebook photo albums.

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I first visited the Quabbin Reservoir on May 15, 2014. This first picture is of a large area of the southwestern part of the reservoir and a giant hill that leads up to an observation tower of the Quabbin. This area is a massive park open to visitors year-round, and unfortunately the roads that lead to the observation tower are accessible by car if you come in from a different gate; I took the lone gate of the three where you can't bring your car very far. I wasn't excited to walk up all of the roads to the Quabbin Tower for a future visit, so I didn't return for a long time.

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The Quabbin Reservoir serves as a source of drinking water for the state capital, Boston, and many of the surrounding towns. The reservoir serves around 2.5 million people according to a quick Google search and you can read the sign to learn that the Quabbin holds 412 billions of water. It also mentions something about "discontinued towns," but more on this later.

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I was exploring the Quabbin with my buddy Matt and we went along a few trails in the woods. This bridge leads out to a field that eventually brings us to just below Winsor Dam.

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The sign was a little bit southwest of Winsor Dam, and to the east of the dam is the hill that is pictured. We climbed the road to the top of the dam and then up a really steep hill to the tower. The climb is an approximate 430 feet in elevation... I wish I knew about the other gates to Quabbin Park!

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After a huge hill, we reached the Quabbin Tower! Up at the top is a large viewing area that allows for amazing views of the entire reservoir.

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This is one vantage point from the top of the Quabbin Tower. To the right of the water in the picture is a piece of land called the "Prescott Peninsula," which I didn't learn about until January of 2015. I also didn't know that this very tower is known to some as "Enfield Tower." But more on this information later!

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Matt and I took a rather long way back to the parking area by the Winsor Dam, where the Quabbin's visitor center is, by following Webster Road. This road is made out of dirt and can only be traveled by foot, but what we didn't expect was the appearance of this building foundation. I had heard something about these "discontinued towns" being located where the Quabbin Reservoir is today, and finding the remains of a building here was extremely exciting... and unexpected. I was absolutely exhausted, but this was pretty darn neat. Much later I learned why this building was in ruins.

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Due to the steep roads I didn't want to return soon as we covered at least 6 miles, but there was so much to see that I eventually would return. This is one final view in May from the Winsor Dam walkway.

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I was invited to a geocache run on January 1, 2015 with two older friends of mine. I had not been to the Quabbin since last May, but after that trip, I had become interested in the Quabbin Valley. I looked into some of the old towns of the area and into other "Reservation Gates." I mentioned there being three gates, but these were to Quabbin Park. Today's geocaching expedition would be in the eastern section of the Quabbin Park, but there are actually 55 gates surrounding the entire reservoir, 3 of which are for a specific "park" in Ware, Massachusetts.

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Jeff and Jim, pictured, look out at the Quabbin from a small beach area we came to off of an old woods road. A common feature of my hiking in Massachusetts is on old roads that have been abandoned to the wild. The larger island to the right is known as "Little Quabbin Hill" or "Little Quabbin Island," and I can't find a name for the smaller island to the left of it. There is an important reason for it being called a hill instead of an island, though. And that's the big historical part of this tour... coming up!

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This is a panorama, obviously, of the reservoir. To the far left is Little Quabbin Hill, while the far right is the mainland on the eastern edge of the reservoir. Between Little Quabbin Hill and the mainland are two islands; the one in the front is Mt. Lizzie and the one further north of it is Mt. Pomeroy. Mountains, you say? They're islands, aren't they?

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The three of us went to a different section of the beach further east where I took some more scenic photos. Jim pointed out this neat "earring" looking ice droplet duo.

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We returned to the trails in the woods of Quabbin Park and found two cellar holes. This is the first of the pair and it's similar to the building I found at the end of my excursion more than half of a year ago! There are all sorts of rock walls in the park that remain from the 1930s as well as these cellar holes.

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A quick snapshot of a really old tree I saw near the first cellar hole. In my opinion, in general, my photos since the fall of 2014 were much better in quality than 2013 and early 2014. These are all taken with an iPhone 5, but the newer photos are a little brighter and I learned how to take panoramas like the one displayed above.

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This is the second cellar hole found in the park today. Decades ago there was a house standing tall above this foundation! There wasn't a huge stretch of forest here, either. There was a lot of farmlands in this valley area, actually.

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Almost back at the reservoir access road, we found this large well structure.

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I took a photo of some stone walls near the end of our adventure. These literally litter Quabbin Park; they tend to mark the boundaries of old roads and properties. This entire day re-invigorated my interest in the Quabbin Reservoir and I did a lot of reading on the internet. I had not looked into the old towns too much the last time I was on a Quabbin kick, but this time I did.

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Six days later on January 7 I decided to travel to New Salem, Massachusetts to look for something I discovered on Google. In my area there are many town line signs that involve a stone pillar and a metal sign on each side of the pillar with a town name on it. I learned that a town line sign existed in New Salem with "New Salem" on one side and "Prescott" on the other. Nearby the sign was a cemetery, which I walked through, as well as this peculiar stone pillar. It reads "1911" and "P."

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The other two sides of this pillar read "NS." This stone pillar actually stands for New Salem and Prescott, like the metal sign I found online, and this dates back to almost 30 years before the discontinuation of Prescott. This fact was mentioned on the large sign by Winsor Dam, shown at the very beginning of this post.

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This is one of a few hints about Prescott, Massachusetts. I have waited until now to talk about the old towns, which I read plenty about before coming here. To the right of this sign, down the road, is a giant metal gate. It is Gate 20 of the 55 gates, and for several hundred feet is a chain-link fence. The photo from the top of Quabbin Tower mentions something called the "Prescott Peninsula." There is a large amount of land where Prescott used to exist that was higher than the eventual height of the reservoir, so the town was not drowned out.

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Here's Gate 20. Due to so much land being above water here, there is so much access to the reservoir for potential pollution. The Department of Conservation and Recreation, DCR, does not allow anyone to go past this gate or a few others to access Prescott Peninsula. There is a yearly bus tour where people are allowed to ride into Prescott, however. I hope to go later this year. To note, the southern portion of the peninsula is part of the old town Enfield.

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A short distance to the southeast of the metal sign is a giant cellar hole, one of the biggest, coolest, and most identifiable ones I have ever found. So, why exactly were these towns "discontinued" and why are there all of these building ruins? Why did I say that Prescott was not "drowned out?" In 1927, the state came to an agreement that a large reservoir would be created to provide drinking water to Boston, which was constantly increasing in population. The state picked the location of the Swift River Valley, which is where the Quabbin is; the Swift River connects to the current reservoir. The state began to clear the valley and in 1938, four towns were permanently gone. People were relocated to neighboring towns as well as some important buildings, but all of the houses were razed.

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This giant tree was probably just as massive to the residents of New Salem and Prescott back in the day as it is now. In 1939 the reservoir began to fill and it reached capacity in 1946. I have mentioned that Quabbin Park is Enfield and that most of Prescott Peninsula is Prescott, but there are two other towns to account for.

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On January 15 was my final "Mass Adventure," as I have coined my trips through the state to hike, find geocaches, or drive around exploring, before going back to school. This is Gate 40, which is the access point for the town of Dana, Massachusetts. This is the third town! My friend Dave joined me for the initial 1.5 mile walk on an old road. The DCR uses this road a lot so they actually plowed it, leaving it to be a little icy but not too bad to walk on.

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While most of Prescott is above water and not legally accessible, the majority of Dana is above-water and legal to access. Outside the town common was the introduction of a cool trend: a mounted photograph of an old building next to the building's actual foundation. For example, this is the Rollin N. Doubleday Blacksmith Shop.

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For the sake of being more brief than long, I will not post every single photo that compares the original location to what has become. I will post a link to my photo albums at the end of this post. This is the photograph from the last photo up-close. The cellar hole was filled with bushes and thorns.

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Here's me inside of the Josephine Marcille House's cellar. Due to this pantry-like room it was unique and more fun to pose inside. The rest of the cellar holes are open-air and more similar to each other.

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Nearby is the Edgar Vaughn house. Its cobblestone foundation was also standalone with the stones being collected from nearby streams and rivers back in the day. It looks amazing and in the corner there appears to have been some restoration by the DCR to prevent it from being destroyed.

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When I returned to college last week I would show people this photo of the Johnson House when talking about Dana. This was, in my opinion, my best photo that shows the before/after effect.

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Nearby the town center of Dana was this really new, fresh plaque on a snow-covered boulder. It recognizes that the Dana town common is a historical area. It also says that Dana was established in 1763; it only lasted for 175 years as an officially recognized town. There was an older monument at the actual town common, but a DCR truck in the background ruined the photo opportunities so we decided to continue down the road for now.

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After peeking at some more cellar holes and the monument at the town center, pictured at the end of this post, Dave and I walked down the road to reach the reservoir. It's about 2 miles from the town common to reach the reservoir, and this section of the road is not too far from the end of the road. It is known as the "dead man's curve" where wagons likely went off-course coming down this hill.

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At the end of the road by the water's edge was this memorial boulder for Franklin S. Graves. I haven't had a chance to look into more about him yet, but I will soon. About 3.5 miles from Gate 40 is "Graves Landing."

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This is a "full" iPhone panorama which shows the enter section of reservoir plus a short distance behind me, which includes the Graves Landing monument.

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Here's a water-only panorama from the edge of the reservoir at Graves Landing. It's not only disallowed but it's unsafe to walk out onto the water! If I understand the map correctly, the landmass in the front and to the left is Mt. Zion with Stevens Island directly in front of it. To the right of it is Leveau Island. In the far distance is the eastern edge of Prescott Peninsula. From here, Dave and I spent a long time searching for a difficult-to-find geocache but I was lucky to have found it. Reducing our disappointment of a potentially unfruitful 7-mile roundtrip hike on a hilly, icy road with this achievement, we began to head back. We're tired as heck!

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This is the geocache we found! It may seem pretty obvious if you look at the little pine tree, but it was essentially on a small branch on the ground that would have been dislodged and lost with a few more inches of snow. Due to GPS bounce and an outdated hint we could not find it. We moved it here so the geocache would survive during the winter as more snow begins to fall and it will still be fairly tricky to find mid-hunt. I am sharing this photo to share a little bit of my hobby to you guys.

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Back in the town common of Dana, I walked through some thorn bushes slowly and found an old stone well as well as a cellar hole I didn't get to examine earlier. The DCR ranger was marking trees to tap for sap and the like during the spring.

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With the DCR ranger gone, I got to take my photo of the town common without interruption of clunky vehicles. The stone monument is older than the plaque and seems to be covered with a type of mossy deterioration, but it is still legible with a little effort. The plaque was established in 1996 during a reunion of former Dana residents who were still alive. To my knowledge there is an annual reunion in the late spring at this very spot. Behind the stone slab is another photograph post that shows the former town common lush with life.




Well, that ends my virtual tour for you guys. Unfortunately, most of Greenwich, the fourth town, is underwater and the parts that aren't are actually the mountaintop-islands. No one is allowed on the islands, especially since some of them like Mt. Zion are used by bald eagles as nesting spots! Long ago the islands like earlier-shown Mt. Pomeroy and Mt. Zion were actually mountains; they became mountains when the filling of the reservoir filled the valley. There are many other gates to explore and I can't wait to see more of the Quabbin!

There are some other cool sites south of Dana that I haven't had an opportunity to visit yet, and I don't want to post any photos in this thread that do not belong to me. This includes the gravestone of Wendell Farnsworth, a 6-year-old boy whose grave was not relocated to Quabbin Park Cemetery, the location of the majority of the gravestones from the four towns' cemeteries. In 1999, the Mass State Police Dive Team dove underneath the reservoir a few times and found near Greenwich some broken gravestone slabs, showing that not all of the graves were moved. Also near Dana is the site of a crashed plane that was used in testing for World War II as well as a natural rock overhang known as "Indian's Kitchen." There are some other spots I'd like to see such as some of the west-Quabbin roads and edges of the reservoir as well as some areas on the northern shore of the Quabbin near Sandstone Hill.

I hope you guys enjoyed this virtual mini-tour! Here's some more things to check out:

http://www.mass.gov/eea/docs/dcr/waters ... system.pdf
-Map of Quabbin Reservoir from Mass.Gov

https://d1u1p2xjjiahg3.cloudfront.net/b ... f7bd_l.jpg
-This image is courtesy of my friend Bob. He used old topography maps and overlaid a map of the current reservoir.

http://hikingcamerawildlife.smugmug.com ... &k=FrJTFCN
-This photographer captures a lot of the wildlife that can be seen at the Quabbin. This place accidentally became abundant with wildlife.

http://video.wgby.org/video/2365046325/
-"Under Quabbin" documentary of what is underneath the reservoir! The dive was conducted by the MA State Police Dive Team.

https://quabbinvalley.wordpress.com/
-An amazing blog about the Quabbin Reservoir and its many wonders.

https://alisonwriter.wordpress.com/tag/indian-kitchen/
-A blogpost about the Indian Kitchen, plane crash, and Wendell Farnsworth grave. (Search Flickr for more photos, especially clearer ones!)




https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set ... 9e03a7c734
-My Mass Adventures 2012-2013 photo album. This is before I got an iPhone and before I was back into geocaching, which in turn got me to go out more and explore. This is technically the pre-cursor to my Mass Adventures, though.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set ... dcd27de440
-My Mass Adventures 2014 photo album. This album is complete with captions and dates. My first Quabbin trip was May 15, 2014.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set ... 1142c9a244
-My Mass Adventures 2015 photo album. I am often behind in captions and dates but while I am home I update this regularly. Luckily all of my Quabbin photos so far are near the beginning of the eventual 1000-photo album. (I have 11 months to fill it up, don't worry about that if you decide to check back in a few weeks from posting.)
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Re: The Quabbin *Virtual Mini-Tour*

Postby Star125 » Sat Jan 24, 2015 3:04 am

What is that white stuff all over the place in your later pictures?
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Spoiler:
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(5th gen Pokemon)
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Re: The Quabbin *Virtual Mini-Tour*

Postby Chuey » Sat Jan 24, 2015 3:31 am

Star, that's called snow. :P
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Re: The Quabbin *Virtual Mini-Tour*

Postby Darkbuster13 » Tue Feb 03, 2015 10:40 pm

Cool beans!
"Those are some nice BOWLING SHOES." -President Obama

"La risa que procede de leve causa es tontería."
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