The following are questions most commonly heard by the Visitor Center staff:
(Also visit Quabbin Facts and Figures for more information)

Where can I go to see the church steeple sticking out of the water?
Where can I go to see the bald eagles?
Where can I go to fish?
Why are there so many restrictions on activities at the Quabbin Reservoir?
How do I get to Quabbin?
What does the word Quabbin mean?
How big is the Quabbin Reservoir?
Does all this water go to Boston?
How does the water get to the metropolitan area?
Don't the aqueducts lose a great deal of water?
What is the best hiking trail?
Can I bring my dog to Quabbin?
Can I have a cookout at Quabbin?
Where can I go to see wildlife?
Are there really mountain lions in Quabbin?
What kinds of wildlife are at Quabbin?
When did they build the Quabbin?
What were the four towns of the Quabbin Valley?

Where can I go to see the church steeple sticking out of the water?

Contrary to popular myth, there are no church steeples sticking out of the water, nor any buildings remaining beneath the water. For water quality reasons, all buildings and trees were removed from the 25,000 acres of land flooded to form the Quabbin Reservoir. Additional structures were removed from the 56,000 acres of land purchased for watershed protection around the reservoir, bringing to 1,100 the number of houses, barns, and sheds torn down or moved for the Quabbin project.

Where can I go to see the bald eagles?

Looking for eagles at Enfield LookoutAlthough it is not a guarantee, there are certain times of year when eagle sightings are likely at the reservoir. During the winter months, the number of bald eagles increases dramatically due to the southerly migration of birds from northern New England and Canada. The Quabbin Reservation provides a milder winter climate compared to their nesting territories, and the area also provides a sufficient food supply for this wintering population of eagles. These northern visitors join Quabbin's resident birds for the winter months before returning to their nesting grounds in early spring. Mid-winter eagle surveys have revealed as many as 52 wintering bald eagles at the Quabbin Reservation.

Traditionally the best location to view eagles is from the Enfield Lookout, located on the MDC Administration Road, off Route 9 in Ware. The spectacular vista provides an excellent view of the Enfield Channel and the southern part of the Prescott Peninsula. Eagles are seen soaring over this area. Often birds perch on the very southwestern shore of the Peninsula on the hillside known as Mount Ram. Additional viewing locations include the Winsor Dam and Goodnough Dike.

Where can I go to fish?

Fishing is permitted on the reservoir during the Quabbin Fishing Season, which generally runs from the second Saturday in April to the second Saturday in October. Shore fishing is allowed between gates 8 and 16, and gates 22 and 44. There are three boat launch areas (Gates 8, 31 and 43), which provide access to the 60% of the reservoir open for boat fishing. For complete details on fishing, please refer to the Quabbin Fishing Guide on the MDC's web page www.state.ma.us/mdc/quabfish.htm.

Why are there so many restrictions on activities at the Quabbin Reservoir?

As a public drinking water supplier, the Metropolitan District Commission must carefully balance its mandate of providing safe drinking water with requests for recreational activities on its watershed lands. Restrictions are placed on certain activities in order to protect the exceptionally high water quality, and insure that these do not directly or indirectly degrade the water. MDC is also charged with protecting and enhancing the apparent wilderness character, the natural resources and the historic and prehistoric sites of its watershed lands.
A partial listing of activities includes:
Allowed: Hiking, walking, snowshoeing,
Prohibited: Off-road vehicles, fires, swimming, wading, alcoholic beverages, domestic animals, horses, collecting, metal detecting, camping.
Allowed with restrictions and/or in designated areas: Bicycles, cross-country skiing, and fishing.
Please refer to the MDC web page for a more complete listing of access policies and restrictions. www.state.ma.us/mdc/pacc.htm

How do I get to Quabbin?

The Quabbin Visitor Center is located in the MDC Administration Building at Winsor Dam, off Route 9 between Belchertown and Ware. Two large, green signs on Route 9,"Quabbin Reservoir, Winsor Dam", mark the entrances. An eight-mile road loops around the area referred to as "Quabbin Park", a 3,200-acre peninsula at the southern end of the reservoir. The three boat launch areas are located off Route 202 in Belchertown (Gate 8), off Route 122 in New Salem (Gate 31), and off Route 32A in Hardwick (Gate 43).

What does the word Quabbin mean?

The word "Quabbin" is a Nipmuck Indian word that roughly translates to "the place or the meeting of many waters". The Nipmucks inhabited the Swift River Valley and referred to this area as the Quabbin. In 1749 the area was incorporated as the Quabbin Parish. When it was originally planned, the reservoir was known as the Swift River Reservoir, but was renamed Quabbin Reservoir in 1932 by the Metropolitan District Water Supply Commission.

How big is the Quabbin Reservoir?

The reservoir is 18 miles long from north to south and covers 25,000 acres. Counting the islands, there are 181 miles of shoreline. When full, the reservoir has a capacity of 412 billion gallons, the top one inch representing 750 million gallons. The deepest part of Quabbin Reservoir is 151', just north of Winsor Dam.

Does all this water go to Boston?

Quabbin Reservoir, along with the Wachusett Reservoir and the Ware River Watershed, make up a drinking water supply system that provides drinking water to 2.5 million Massachusetts residents in 46 communities. Cities and towns in the metropolitan region of Boston receive water from this system, but there are also communities in the central part of the state that receive water as well.

How does the water get to the metropolitan area?

Shaft 12From Quabbin, water travels 25 miles through the Quabbin Aqueduct to the Wachusett Reservoir. This large aqueduct, measuring 13' in height by 11' in width, is capable of conveying 600 million gallons of water per day, more than twice the average daily consumption for the system. After mixing with water in the Wachusett Reservoir, the water is withdrawn through the Cosgrove Aqueduct, which transfers the water to the Hultman Aqueduct. The Hultman terminates at the Norumbega Reservoir in Weston. From here the water enters the City Tunnel, then is distributed to user communities through a series of smaller aqueducts.

Don't the aqueducts lose a great deal of water?

Over the past two decades the Metropolitan District Commission and Massachusetts Water Resources Authority have made major improvements to the water supply system by repairing or replacing leaking pipes. Millions of gallons of water have been saved on a daily basis as a result of this work. Currently a new aqueduct, the MetroWest, is being built. This will provide an alternate piping option to the Hultman Aqueduct, which is currently losing significant amounts of water through leaks. The Hultman is the major artery for water into the metropolitan area and can not be shut down for long periods of time to repair the leaks. When completed, the MetroWest Aqueduct will be used as the primary route for water, the Hultman will shut down, repaired and then brought back on line to be used in tandem with the MetroWest.

What is the best hiking trail?

Webster Road in AutumnThat depends on what you are looking for. In Quabbin Park at the southern end of the Reservation, there are 22 miles of trails of various lengths and degrees of difficulty. The Visitor Center sells the Quabbin Park Trail Guide that describes a number of hikes and provides a narrative describing interesting natural and cultural features along the way. The Quabbin Reservation offers even more options for hiking with dozens and dozens of trails to choose from.


Can I bring my dog to Quabbin?

No! Domestic animals are not permitted anywhere on MDC watershed lands. The presence of dogs and other domestic animals within a public water supply watershed or in its surface waters is incompatible with MDCís sanitary and public health protection goals. Dogs in particular have been identified as hosts for pathogens such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia, which can infect humans and also be spread to resident wildlife populations.

Can I have a cookout at Quabbin?

No! Fires, including grills, hibachis and gas stoves, are prohibited at Quabbin.

Where can I go to see wildlife?

It is difficult to predict where wildlife can be seen on any given day. Since Quabbin is not a zoo, the animals are wild and roam at will. There is always something to see at Quabbin, it might just not be what you might be expecting. Many animals are active at dawn or dusk, so your chances of seeing some species are better at these times. The type of animals you are searching for will influence the habitat type you should visit. Two precautionary notes:
1) Animals are wild and should be treated as such. Do not approach animals, keep a healthy distance. Be sure to avoid any animals exhibiting odd behavior as the individual may be infected with rabies.
2) Feeding or baiting animals is strictly prohibited under MDC Rules and Regulations. When it comes to food, animals can fend for themselves just fine. Feeding them foods that are not part of their natural diet can actually be harmful to them and also make them reliant upon humans for their food.

Are there really mountain lions in Quabbin?

Over the years there have been many credible reports of mountain lion sightings in Quabbin, but with the exception of some DNA analyzed scat, there has not been official documentation in the form of a photograph or track. The debate continues as to whether there is a resident population, if the sightings are a few transient individuals, or if these are domestic animals that have either escaped captivity or have been released into the wild by their owners.

What kinds of wildlife are at Quabbin?

Quabbin has been referred to as the "accidental wilderness." Originally built as a public drinking water supply, the large area of protected watershed land around the reservoir became in effect, a wildlife sanctuary. Although it is certainly not a wilderness area (the area is carefully managed for water quality by the MDC), this has become an important place for many species of wildlife. In addition to the more prominent species people associate with Quabbin -- bald eagle, common loon, turkey, white-tailed deer, eastern coyote, beaver and porcupine -- the area supports thousands of species of organisms, including some that are rare or endangered. Species lists include more than 250 birds, 50 mammals, 27 fish, 19 amphibians and 15 reptiles.

When did they build the Quabbin?

The Swift River Act, which appropriated the money for the Quabbin Reservoir project, was passed by the Massachusetts Legislature in 1927. Construction really began in earnest in 1929 and continued through 1939 when the Winsor Dam was finally completed. The reservoir began to fill in August, 1939 and was nearly full by 1946.

What were the four towns of the Quabbin Valley?

Enfield, Greenwich (pronounced GREEN-witch), Dana and Prescott, and yes, all the buildings were removed.


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