When construction began in 1927, the Swift River was redirected from its riverbed and through a diversion tunnel. On August 14th, 1939 that tunnel was sealed with rock. Over the next seven years the waters of the Quabbin Reservoir slowly rose behind the newly completed Winsor Dam, an earth-filled structure 2,640 feet long, rising 170 feet above the riverbed, and the slightly smaller Goodnough (GOOD-no) Dike. The water seeped into the old cellar holes, and gradually submerged the roads that had linked the towns. It swallowed all but the peaks of the sixty hills and mountains, transforming Prescott Ridge into Prescott Peninsula.
Today the reservoir can hold over 412 billion gallons of water; twenty million gallons must be released below the dam each day to maintain the flow of the Swift River. The water is distributed throughout the metropolitan Boston area through 117 miles of pipeline and aqueduct tunneled through bedrock 200 feet below the earth's surface. Three Western Massachusetts communities are also supplied with Quabbin water through the Chicopee Valley Aqueduct. The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA), created in 1984, is responsible for the treatment and distribution of the water, and the development of new water supplies. Rangers, foresters, a wildlife biologist, a staff of engineers, skilled craftsmen and laborers all help to ensure the purity of Quabbin's water and watershed, and maintain and protect Quabbin's very special qualities.
The Visitor Center offers programs and information about the cultural history of the area, the management of the reservoir, watershed and wildlife. Quabbin Park is open every day of the year, from dawn until dusk.
Every visit to Quabbin Park is special. Visitors may glimpse deer, follow the flight of a soaring eagle, or enjoy the serenity of a summer sunset. People return to the park time and again, intrigued by its history, lured by its beauty.
The need to assure the availability of pure water for future generations determines which management and recreational activities are allowed. The MDC recognizes the lands acquired to protect the integrity of its water resources also provide excellent, often unsurpassed, areas where people can find unspoiled nature together with the space and quiet that nurture the human mind and spirit.