Blue Text: Development of the Quabbin Reservoir
Maroon Text: Development & Demise of the Swift River Valley Towns
Green Text: The Environment of the Valley


10,000 BC - Last glacial age ends as New England's glaciers retreat to the north-northwest. The Swift River Valley landscape sculpted by the glaciers include high ridge tops running in a north-south direction.

4,000 BC - Pocumtuck/Nipmuck Indians inhabit the Swift River Valley. Abundant game including deer, birds, rabbits and squirrels, fish, and crops from the rich soils provide a steady food supply.

1652 - Water Works Company is incorporated to bring water into Boston.

1673 - Boston's population - 18,000.

1736 - (1/14) General Court makes grant of 1,000 acres of land for the Quabbin territory.

1744 - First church in Swift River Valley is erected in Greenwich Plains.

1745 - Saw and grist mill are built in Greenwich by a man named Holmes.

1749 - (6/29) Quabbin becomes incorporated as a parish.

1754 - (4/20) Greenwich is incorporated. (8/15) First Town Meeting is held.

1758 - Conkey's Tavern is erected in what will become Prescott.

1770 - Dam is constructed in the valley by Ephraim Woodward, who operated a sawmill at the site (later to be Enfield).

1788 - Enfield Congregational Church is erected.

1787 - (1/25) Shays' Rebellion. The event was plotted at Conkey's Tavern in the future town of Prescott.

1795 - Aqueduct Corporation is created to supply Boston with water from Jamaica Pond in Roxbury
- Boston's Population - 20,000

1799 - Sixth Massachusetts Turnpike is built connecting the Swift River Valley to Amherst and Worcester at a cost of $760/mile.

1801 - (2/18) Dana is incorporated. (3/17) First Town Meeting is held.

1810 - Greenwich Post Office opens.

1812 - Dam at Smith's Station (Enfield Upper Village) is built. Cotton mill using dam's water power is built the following year.
- Sawmill is erected in North Dana on the site of the future Crawford and Tyler mills.

1816 - (2/15) Enfield is incorporated from sections of Greenwich and Belchertown.
- (3/4) Enfield holds its first Town Meeting. Town budget of $1,666.67 approved.

1817 - Boston's population - 40,000.

1821 - Swift River Company is established in Enfield, and manufactures cotton products.

1822 - (1/28) Prescott is incorporated. (2/18) First Town Meeting held. (6/18) Post Office opens.
- Boston is incorporated as a city. 100 gallons of water is used daily by each family.

1823 - Dana Post Office opens.

1824 - Greenwich Village Post Office opens.

1825 - Minor Manufacturing Co. begins operations in Enfield, making satinets.

1830 - Swift River Valley town populations:

    Dana - 623
    Enfield -1,056
    Greenwich - 813
    Prescott -758

1832 - Swift River Hotel is erected in Enfield.

1835 - The Flagg Tavern (later called the Eagle Hotel) is constructed in Dana.

1837 - Greenwich palm-leaf hat industry makes 30,000 hats valued at $4,375.

1842 - (2/4) Dana adds parts of Hardwick and Petersham to its town boundaries.

1845 - (9/19) North Prescott Post Office opens.

1848 - (10/14) Lake Cochituate (formerly Long Pond) in Natick is added as a water supply for Boston. 14.62 mile aqueduct costs $4 million.


Aerial View of Quabbin

Aerial View of the Quabbin/
Swift River Valley terrain

Hay Ride

A valley hayride

Swift River Hotel

The Swift River Hotel

New Salem Guide Board

New Salem Guide Board


1852 - Soapstone quarry opens in northern section of Dana.

1870 - Lake Cochituate is augmented with water from the Sudbury River.

1872 - Sudbury River Act passes appropriating funds for the construction of the Sudbury Reservoir.

1873 - (12/3) Athol and Enfield railroad is completed, linking the Swift River Valley towns with Athol and Springfield. The so-called "Rabbit Run" will eventually have 20 stops along its 47 miles.

1878 - 17.4-mile long Sudbury Aqueduct is completed, connecting Sudbury Reservoir and Lake Cochituate.

1880 - Framingham Reservoirs are added to the metropolitan area water supply.
- The railroad becomes the Athol Branch of the Boston & Albany Railroad.

1884 - Enfield's brick Town Hall is built at a cost of $12,000.

1885 - Mount "L" Hotel is built in North Dana.

1893 - Massachusetts Board of Health reviews alternatives for additional water supplies for metropolitan Boston including Lake Winnipesaukee in N.H., Sebago Lake in Maine, the Merrimac River, and the Nashua River which is ultimately selected.

1895 - Wachusett Reservoir construction begins.
- First survey of the Swift River is conducted to establish points, triangulation stations and elevations.
- Boston's population reaches 504,000, entire metropolitan area population exceeds 1,000,000.

1897 - The Quabbin Club, a prominent women's club in the valley, forms in Enfield.

1899 - Massachusetts Drainage Commission submits report to the State Legislature outlining plans for 26 cities and towns to consolidate into one system for water supply and sewer services.

1900 - Swift River Valley town populations:

    Dana - 790
    Enfield - 1,036
    Greenwich - 491
    Prescott - 380


Enfield Center

Enfield Center

North Prescott Church

North Prescott Church

Women Resting

Burt Brooks photo


1901 - (8/22) Dana Centennial is celebrated.

1904 - (8/2) Greenwich 150th anniversary is celebrated.

1908 - Wachusett Reservoir is completed at a cost of $11 million. Reservoir stands 395' above Boston City Base Level when full. It is the largest water supply reservoir in the world with a 65 billion gallon capacity.

1916 - Enfield centennial is celebrated.

1919 - A Joint Board of the newly created Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) and Department of Public Health is created. Initial studies of additional water supplies include diversion of the Millers, Swift and Ware Rivers at a proposed cost of $65 Million.

1920 - Swift River Valley town populations:

    Dana -599
    Enfield -790
    Greenwich- 399
    Prescott- 236

- Boston's population - 748,000.

1921 - Second survey of the Swift River Valley is conducted for reservoir information.

1922 - Joint report of the MDC and the Department of Public Health is filed. It recommends taking water from the Ware River and creating a massive reservoir in the Swift River Valley.
- (8/25) Prescott Centennial is held.

1924 - (12/31) Prescott Post Office closes. Mail is routed through Greenwich.

1926 - (5/28) Ware River Act passes, appropriating funds for the construction of a 12-mile long aqueduct from Ware River to Wachusett Reservoir.
- Metropolitan District Water Supply Commission (MDWSC) is set up to run the project.
- (9/2) Frank E. Winsor is appointed Chief Engineer of the Quabbin Project.

1927 - (4/26) Swift River Act passes, appropriating money for the construction of a reservoir in the Swift River Valley.
- (9/26) North Prescott Post Office closes.
- Ware River Diversion Project begins.

1928 - Prescott holds its last town meeting. MDWSC assumes administrative operations for the town.

1930 - 40,000 acres of land is purchased to date by the MDWSC. A majority of Dana Center residents decide to give up their land. The Swift River Act is amended to reflect this decision.
- Swift River Valley town populations:

    Dana - 595
    Enfield - 497
    Greenwich - 238
    Prescott - 48
- Prescott Congregational Church building is purchased by Joseph Skinner and moved to Mount Holyoke College.

1931 - (2/14) U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of Massachusetts in a suit brought by the state of Connecticut over riparian rights. Settlement includes an agreement to maintain the flow of the Swift River with a 20 million gallons/day release downstream of the dam. Work on the Swift River project proceeds.
- Wachusett Reservoir drops to 19% of capacity (-46.5 feet).
- (3/20) First water from Ware River is diverted through the newly-completed aqueduct to the Wachusett Reservoir. Tunnel cost is $700,000/mile, plus 13 lives. 20,000 acres of land is purchased in the Ware River watershed.

1932 - Metropolitan District Water Supply Commission votes to call the reservoir Quabbin, a Nipmuck Indian word for the place or the meeting of many waters.

1933 - Quabbin aqueduct is completed.
- Quabbin Park Cemetery is dedicated.
- (6/7) Swift River Diversion tunnel is in full use, by passing water around the dam area.

1934 - The MDWSC has purchased 60,000 acres to date for the Quabbin project.

1935 - (6/1) Last run of the Athol and Enfield "Rabbit Run" in the Swift River Valley.
- Daniel Shays highway (Route 202) opens.
- Last active factory in the Swift River Valley closes.
- Swift River Valley town populations:

    Dana - 387
    Enfield - 495
    Greenwich - 219
    Prescott -18
- (5/21) Greenwich Church Foundation is established.

1936 - "Woodpeckers" begin clearing the valley of all vegetation to a height 10' above the flood line.
- (3/8-3/21) Flood of 1936 inundates the valley. 6.11" of rain falls in 14 days, adding to significant runoff from snow melt.

1936 - Swift River Valley Historical Society is formed.
- (8/1) Enfield Congregational Church is destroyed by arson fire.

1938 - (3/28) Remaining unbought land in the Swift River Valley is taken by eminent domain.
- (4/28) Enfield, Greenwich, Dana and Prescott are disincorporated. Farewell Ball held in the Enfield Town Hall.
- (9/21) A powerful hurricane strikes central Massachusetts. 11.6" of rain falls in 5 days, raising the level of the Swift River by 15' at Winsor Dam. 50 million board feet of timber are blown down in the Quabbin watershed.

1939 - (8/14) Quabbin Reservoir begins to fill.

1940 - The Chandler Place in Enfield, which served as the MDWSC headquarters, is torn down.
- (3/21) First diversion of Ware River water is put into Quabbin.

1941 - Prescott Peninsula is closed to the public and used for bombing practice by the Army Air Corps.
- (9/17) First water from Quabbin Reservoir is sent through the Quabbin Aqueduct to Wachusett Reservoir.
- Quabbin Tower is completed.

1945 - Dam and dike area opened to the public.

1946 - (6/22) Quabbin Reservoir fills to its capacity at 530' above Boston City Base Level. Cost of the project is about $53 Million.
- Metropolitan Water District serves 20 cities and towns.
- (7/5) Shore fishing is now allowed at Quabbin

1947 - Metropolitan District Water Supply Commission is absorbed by the Metropolitan District Commision Water Division.

1949 - Prescott Historical Society purchases the Prescott Methodist Church building from the State for $5. It is moved to Orange and is restored.

1950 - Chicopee Valley Aqueduct comes on line, serving Wilbraham and Chicopee.


Graduating Class of 1928
Greenwich Village
Grade School

Moving a House from the Valley

Leaving the valley

Dynamiting the Enfield Bridge

Dynamiting the
Enfield Bridge

Farewell Ball, Enfield, April 1938

Farewell Ball, April 1938
Leo Johnson, prompter.

Enfield, 1939, after the clearing of the Swit River Valley

The former site of Enfield, 1939 after the clearing of the valley


1952 - (5/27) Boat fishing is now allowed at Quabbin Reservoir.

1953 - South Hadley is added to Chicopee Valley Aqueduct.

1967 - (3/5) Quabbin falls 34.3' below capacity (45% full) due to a severe drought.

1969 - Radio Astronomy telescope is built at Quabbin.

1972 - Chapter 737, known as the Kelly-Wetmore Act, is passed by the legislature. It defines activities at Quabbin and continues Prescott Peninsula as a permanently restricted area.

1974 - Sudbury Reservoir is removed from service due to water quality concerns.

1976 - (4/3) Quabbin Reservoir reaches capacity again for the first time since 1961.

1980 - Water demands on the MDC system, which serves 44 communities, reaches 343 million gallons a day.

1982 - (7/29) First release of Bald Eagles at Quabbin.

1984 - (6/1) Quabbin reaches its highest elevation ever, 531.8' above Boston City Base Level (103% of capacity).
- Chapter 372 of the Acts of 1984, known as the Water Resources Act, is passed by the state legislature. It creates the Division of Watershed Management of the Metropolitan District Commission, and an independent Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA). The Act divides the responsibilities formerly held by the MDC's Water and Sewer Division.

1985 - (7/1) MWRA assumes operations of water distribution and sewer systems.
- (10/17 & 18) Prescott Methodist Church, which housed the Prescott Historical Society, is moved to the Swift River Valley Historical Society grounds in New Salem.

1987 - (10/8) Governor Michael S. Dukakis declares 1988 the official "Year of Remembrance" for the 50th anniversary of the disincorporation of the four Swift River Valley towns.

1988 - "The Year of Remembrance" events include:

    (4/27) Remembrance Ball at UMASS/Amherst
    (6/16) Winsor Memorial Rededication
    (8/21) Dana Commemorative
    (10/8) Time Capsule burial at Quabbin Park Cemetery

1990 - After Quabbin Reservoir falls to a 17-year low in 1989, the MDC, MWRA and the DEQE declare a water emergency. As a result of water conservation efforts and an active leak detection program, daily consumption drops from an average of 330 million gallons a day to 275 million gallons a day on an annual basis.

The Quabbin Reservoir

The Quabbin Reservoir

The Spillway

Water runs over the Spillway

Former valley residents take an escorted boat ride on the Quabbin

Former valley residents
take an escorted boat
ride on the Quabbin