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Engineering and Wilderness

Happy New Year!  I was finally able to return to the Quabbin Reservoir today, after quite an absence due to other obligations.  I’m focusing at the moment on the structures that cut through the Swift River Valley to create the Reservoir and all of the additional work that went along with that massive undertaking.  On the south end of the Reservoir is Quabbin Park, where the most obvious artifacts of the imprint of the Commonwealth can be seen.  The dams, the buildings, parking lots, etc.  The Quabbin is not the largest watershed in New England..  That distinction belongs to the Connecticut River watershed.  Nevertheless, it may be the most important.  But it is hard to get one’s arms around the all that was done to create this large body of naturally filtered drinking water, and of course, all that as changed and destroyed in the process.  The work began in earnest just over 75 years ago.

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The Winsor Dam is one of two primary structures holding back the water.  What is the difference between a dam and a dike?  A dam has a spillway to let water flow through.  This particular spillway, when the water is high enough, lets what remains of the Swift River continue it’s journey.  However, the water is not high at this point and as such, there is no spill.  I find that gives one the opportunity to focus on the structure itself.

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These intrusions into the landscape over time create an new kind of beauty, a new kind of landscape after a time.

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Let’s hope 2014 is a good year for everyone.

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