Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Drowned Towns

MetaFilter has a neat post about four towns in Massachusetts—Dana, Enfield, Greenwich and Prescott—swallowed up by the Quabbin Reservoir in 1938.

It's a longstanding piece of Massachusetts lore: When the Quabbin Reservoir is low, they say a church steeple rises from the water, a ghostly reminder of the towns submerged by the flooding of the Swift River Valley in 1939.
No offense, says Dale Monette, program coordinator at the Quabbin Visitors Center in Belchertown, but, "I guarantee he's never seen it." No structures of the four "lost" towns of the valley, all vacated and disincorporated in March 1938, were left standing, he confirmed on the day I visited. [Link]
One town up here in Maine—Flagstaff—met a similar fate. Here's a list of other drowned towns in the U.S.

Miriam Robbins

Here in Eastern Washington we have a number of drowned towns (as seen on the list in the link that you gave) due to the building of Grand Coulee Dam. When the water is low, structural foundations can be seen in the shallows. The histories of these towns can be read in local histories, newspapers and magazine articles. I have read a number of them with interest, and find it sad that several cemeteries are located underwater.


Maggie Rail has transcribed a number of those flooded cemeteries.

This reminds me of the scene in Deliverance where a cemetery is being moved in preparation of the flooding of a town. The TVA maintained records of graveyards flooded during their projects.

Miriam Robbins

Thanks for the link to the transcribed flooded cemeteries, Chris. That Maggie! She's simply everywhere...I've followed her sites for a while, and she must have visited every cemetery in Eastern Washington, which is quite a large area, you know.


This is a fascinating topic, Chris. Thank you for writing about it. I just spent over an hour going from one website to another to read about drowned towns in various states.

When I lived in San Francisco in the 1970s, I met someone who grew up in the drowned town of Jacksonville, California. Her childhood house was gone. The schools she attended were gone. Her entire hometown - stores, churches, the homes of friends and neighbors, all gone.

It must be devastating to have to evacuate the town you grew up in and never be able to go back.


And how sad for descendants to learn that the old family homestead is underwater and impossible to visit without scuba gear.

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