I recently repeated a hike I did last April along the north eastern side of the Quabbin Reservoir. The area was formally the location of North Dana, Massachusetts. When the town the dissolved to complete work on the Quabbin, the land was absorbed by the neighboring town of Petersham.
With all of the snowfall we have had this winter, I came prepared to snowshoe down the road that runs along the shore. What I found was the DCR plowed the road beyond the gate (gate 35) that keeps motorized vehicles from entering the wilderness. I figured they would only have gone a certain distance, so I brought my snow shoes with me just in case. It turned out they cleared the roads a lot further than I thought, so I carried my snowshoes for about eight miles.
Dana / Petersham Town Marker
North East Bank no. 3 – Neeseponset Pond Area, Quabbin Reservoir
Mount L no. 1
The Pass no. 1
Distant Leveau Island no. 1
The Pass no. 2
This photograph of The Pass was taken only about one hour and twenty minutes after the first one. The conditions look a lot worse than they actually were because I was shooting through a telephoto lens (85mm). The snow limited visibility at distance, as captured in the photograph. There was very little wind at the time, so walking in the snow was not bad at all. The snowfall actually made the rest of my hike very enjoyable.
In reading up on the area, I remember seeing a reference to a soapstone quarry located in the North Dana area. While on this hike, I noticed I would be near a hill called Soapstone Hill. I put two and two together, and decided to check out the area near the hill to see if I could find the site. After wondering down what looked like a trail on the south east side of the hill, we arrived at what I believe to be the site. There were numerous boulders at one end of a large polygonal hole with straight walls. We were there in April, just after the snow melted so the hole was filled with water and algae. Due to the algae, it was difficult to tell how depth of the hole. Afterward, I went looking for historic photographs and was able to find one however I will need to visit the site again to confirm the the point of view. I hope to get back out there before it gets too snowy.
Our hike into North Dana began at Gate 35. The gate is located on Old North Dana Road, which is off of Route 122 in New Salem. I might have mentioned parking at numbered gates before, but I might take a minute to explain. The Quabbin is surrounded by a series of numbered gates that block the roads that enter the wilderness. Visitors can park at these gates and walk in to explore the area (unless you are on the Prescott Peninsula). I like the numbering system because it gives you a point of reference. There are numerous roads that traverse the Quabbin, so it helps to identify the various points of entry.
From Gate 35, we walked south on a derelict road called North Main Street. It is closed to vehicles, which makes it a great walking path. The road runs along the north east side of the Quabbin toward the area formally known as North Dana. The village center of North Dana is submerged but you can explore other parts of it from North Main Street or Gates 36 or 37. If you follow North Main Street far enough, you can see where it runs into the reservoir. On the day these photographs were taken, the water level was very high. As you can see in the photograph, North Main Street no. 3, the water is creeping up the ruts in the old road. I have been to this spot in the middle of the summer when the water is much lower. There is a small point covered in bricks that you can walk on, however on this day it was under water. I find this scene very surreal. It was once a functioning road, but now it just nowhere. I would expect to see something like this in a dream, like a metaphor for a path in life being obstructed by some all powerful force. To be walking along and see it in real life makes me want to pinch myself sometimes to see if I wake up.
North East Bank no. 1 – Thompson Pond Area, Quabbin Reservoir
Nikon D700 with 14mm-24mm f/2.8
As this year draws to a close, I started to realize that I have taken numerous digital photographs during my hikes and adventures and never bothered to edit them. The hikes I went on this year were key because it got me out of the house, and helped my mind relax after working on planning the wedding. With the wedding in the past, I want to get moving on some of these images that have been stewing in my computer’s hard drive all year.
Dana Town Marker
Nikon D700 with 14mm-24mm f/2.8
To kick off my sad attempts at playing catchup, I wanted to start in April. Yes, we are going way back with some of these photographs. Toward the end of April, Amanda and I went on a hike in the North East side of the Quabbin. Today, this area is part of Petersham however it was once part of the town of Dana. Technically, our hike began in New Salem because we parked at gate 35. We crossed the town line into Petersham a little ways into the hike. However, the town town line marker we saw does not have a “P” on the south side. It has a “D” for Dana. I thought that this was so cool because I expected the marker to be long gone.