Quabbin Reservoir

According to the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Quabbin pamphlet:

The Quabbin (Swift River) Valley was part of the territory of the Nipmuc Indians. Quabbin means the meeting of many waters. By the 17th century their population had declined, decimated by war and disease, and the valley was rapidly settled by Europeans drawn by the abundance of water and rich farmland.

Four towns were eventually established: Dana, Enfield, Prescott, and Greenwich. However, as was the case with England 125 years earlier, rural New England populations declined as people started moving east to Boston and other coastal towns in search of jobs. As a result, land values in western Mass declined. By the early twentieth century, a rapidly expanding population in the east required ever-greater water supplies, creating a new importance for the Swift River Valley as a primary water source. The idea was to dam the Swift River and Beaver Brook to flood the valley and create a reservoir. The Massachuetts Legislature passed the Swift River Act in 1927; using the right of eminent domain, the Commonwealth bought out the residents, and removed all buildings and vegetation over a period of years. Quabbin Reservoir began to fill in 1939 and reached its capacity by 1946. The reservoir is about 18 miles long with 118 miles of shoreline (not including the islands).

Quabbin Reservoir Winsor Dam

In many instances of dams and reservoirs, they not only alter the landscape, they are tinged with a confrontational if not violent history. However, on a positive note, since Quabbin is a protected area it provides a lush environment for fish, and other wildlife (not to mention it provides water to millions).

Winsor Dam is located next to the Visitor Center in Quabbin Park at the south end of the reservoir in Belchertown, MA. The reservoir is on the left of the dam in the

Sky Fire

photo. The area is nice to walk and provides a great view.

A while later  there were some cirrus clouds painting the sky. I attached my

polarizer filter to darken the sky above as I shot Sky Fire from the spillway, looking west.

Later, walking back to my car, I noticed an area with dead trees that were likely the result of their being flooded for long periods. I left the roadway to get a few shots, of which Dead Zone (not to be confused with Mt. Everest’s death zone that begins at 26,247 feet)

Dead Zone

was the best. This stand of trees provides both a stark and aesthetic view of a micro environment.

Although the Winsor Dam area excluded vehicles, a ranger told me that if I drove to the East gate I could take the car in from there. There, I drove up to the Enfield Look Out. The skies had darkened and rain was expected in a few

Life Substance

hours. Given less light, I set up my tripod so I could use a slow shutter speed with my 135mm lens to enable a smaller ƒ stop for good depth-of-field. The result is a nice, compressed, distant scene to the Northeast, shown in Life Substance. The islands are the tops of the area’s hills surrounding the valley.

I only had about six hours to photograph Quabbin. I know there are a few people who photograph there regularly. I would be happy to hear about your experiences.

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Stephen Fielding Images

I'm a retired medical sociologist from the University of Rochester. Climate change is one of the two great challenges facing humanity (the other is nuclear weapons). In writing about the impact of climate change I read reputable books and articles on the topic. So when I make statements about climate change you will see a link taking you to the scientific source(s) of the information I provide. As for my independently published photobooks, each has gone through several layers of editing and peer review for both readability and accuracy. This is not to say that everything I say is accurate. Even the New York Times makes mistakes. So, if you find something that is factually incorrect, let me know. I hope you find reading my blog a positive experience. If you do, please encourage your family and friends to have a look. You can find photos from my other photo work by clicking on the My SmugMug Gallery tab, above. Best wishes, -Steve

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