Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Quabbin Park’

It’s Still Winter at the Quabbin Reservoir – And a new Gigapan

It probably should not come as a surprise to anyone in New England, but this winter is obviously not giving up without a fight.  It should be a nice spring morning and really it is.  It’s just that it is snowing.  Again….  Photography brings solace, so here are some more photo thoughts from the Quabbin Reservoir, the Winsor Dam area inside Quabbin Park.  You can  click on the images for a better view.

Hunt_150327__DSC5896

Hunt_150327__DSC5936

Hunt_150327__DSC5894

Hunt_150327__DSC5884

Black and White somehow feels like a presentation more appropriate to the mood though.

Hunt_150327__DSC3535

Hunt_150327__DSC3540

And for those interested in the details, here is a panorama taken from the Bridge of the ice and the budding reflections we can see in the puddles left by a recent rain.  If you want to see it really large, you can find it on Gigapan here.

Hunt_150327__DSC5919-Edit

Is it spring yet?  No.

Late Winter at the Quabbin Reservoir – Photoessay

It is supposed to be spring here in New England, but it isn’t really.  It snowed yesterday a bit though it quickly melted.  The wind howled last night, but it has calmed down today, leaving us with a new burst of unseasonably cold weather.  This is global weirding, though some claim it is proof that there is no global warming.  The earth looks flat from where I sit but it isn’t.  When they started the Iditarod in Alaska, they had to import snow to Anchorage.  But it remains cold here.   Nevertheless, we went out on two occasions in an effort to look at the landscape in a different light.  We were cold, but not disappointed.  Some photo thoughts from late winter at the Quabbin.  First at Goodnough Dike.

Hunt_150315__DSC5631

Hunt_150315__DSC3326Hunt_150315__DSC3337It proved to be too early to be able to look at the story underneath the snow at Dana Common.

Hunt_150319__DSC3361But the light was working with the trees, juxtaposing old and new.

Hunt_150319__DSC3375These old trees have seen a lot.  They seem to be saying that they aren’t finished just yet.

Hunt_150319__DSC3373

Though some seem to be close.

Hunt_150319__DSC5726And some, such as these red pines (below) at the Spillway, are gone, but the late winter light tells something of what remains of their story.

Hunt_150315__DSC3301So it is late winter.

Hunt_150315__DSC3291

But soon….

Hunt_150315__DSC5610

 

Reflections on the Past in Relation to the Present – Thoughts on the Quabbin Reservoir.

I’ll soon be taking down my exhibition, “Constructing Quabbin” which the good folks at the Westborough Massachusetts Public Library were good enough to host for the last three weeks.  The exhibition was sponsored by the Art and Frame Emporium in Westborough, an art and framing store I highly recommend.  In the exhibition are 10 monochrome images of the structures of the Quabbin Reservoir of the present, the Winsor Dam, Goodnough Dike and in juxtaposition, a series of color images of the artifacts of the towns lost to the creation of the Reservoir.    For those new to this blog and not familiar with New England History, the Quabbin Reservoir is a large open reservoir supplying drinking water to approximately two million residents of eastern Massachusetts.  The creation of the Reservoir involved the taking of four towns and the relocation of several thousands residents in the late 1930’s.

It has been a powerful experience for me as an artist.  My artist talk on the evening of August 28 was well attended and received.  Strangely, the setup at the Library provided perhaps the most powerful experience of the evening for me.  The talk took place in the gallery space, so I was busily getting ready when an older gentleman walked in to look around.  I don’t have permission to use his name, but if he should read this, I hope he recognizes himself.  I’m grateful for our short conversation.  It turns out that he lived in one of the four towns that was lost in the creation of the Reservoir, as a child.  I’ve posted an image here of the Dana Common School House cellar hole and that image hangs in the exhibition.  He went to that School.  We wandered around the images together.  He shared some of his memories of the construction of the Dam and the Dike and what it was like to be on the land as it depopulated.  He seemed to think that it was important that the story of the Quabbin be remembered.  There are of course many other artists and historians working at just that, so I’m hardly unique.  I’ll just speak here as an artist, but to me it is clear that each photograph or image created represents something about the way the artist experiences the Reservoir, and its history.  It is a complex set of feelings.  I don’t think that the matter is every settled, at least it isn’t for me.

I remain impressed by the engineering that created the Reservoir and its apparent effort to somehow come to grips with the wonderful hills and water that provide the context for that engineering.  It is not your average Dam and Dike.

_1080336-Edit

This is from the west end of the Winsor Dam.  I often wonder about the mind-set of those who designed these structures.  What kind of signal were they trying to send about themselves and their understanding of what was happening.  It is probably worthy of note that Frank Winsor, namesake of the Dam and the Dam’s Chief Engineer, died on the witness stand during one of the many law suits that were provoked by the Dam’s construction.

Hunt_140725_033_DSC0457

He created a beautiful park.  Was that his intention?  We will never know for sure of course.  It is almost as though there are hints if you look hard enough.  My wife and I were hiking at the base of the Dam a few weeks ago, and noticed something in a large clump of trees just to the right of the lone tree you see above.

Hunt_140801__1050737

A stone marker.  Of course stone markers are hardly surprising in New England, they are everywhere.  Obviously, we took a closer look.  I had to use some flash to bring out a bit of contrast in the carving on the stone.

Hunt_140801__1050740

That’s a W.  It stands for west perhaps?  On the other side, with the help of more flash and extreme cropping:

Hunt_140801__1050741

That is an E.  East and west?  My compass app settled the matter.  It was not east and west.  It quickly struck us that this may have been a boundary marker between the towns of Enfield and Ware. (Enfield was one of the four towns that was taken and was unincorporated in 1938.  The town of Ware still exists.)  We checked at the Administration Building and sure enough, that was the case.  Why was it left there?  They didn’t know.  They speculated that perhaps it was just too much trouble to remove.  Perhaps.  This was at the base of what was at the time one of the largest engineering projects the world had ever seen.  I would guess they had the ability to take it away if they choose to do so.

It will soon be time for me to move onto other projects I think.  I wonder if I’ll ever find a project quite so compelling.  We’ll see.  I am not sure I accomplished what I had hoped, so perhaps I’ll keep trying.  The reconciliation of past and present is always a challenge.  Several years back I stumbled upon what to me is the best effort I have seen to date and it was in the form of a prayer.  The Reverend John S. Curtis offered this prayer at the Congregational Parish in Enfield as the parishioners met for the final time on June 26, 1938.

“We thank thee O Lord for these hills, from whence our strength has come.  We thank thee for the valleys that lie between the hills; and the streams and lakes that have brought life and beauty, recreation and industry to those who have dwelt here, and visitors from near and far.  We thank thee for the countryside with its farms and fruit and fertility.  We thank thee for the pleasant villages and hamlets scattered through this area.  We thank thee for the homes that have meant so much to the people who have dwelt here; and, from which have gone many to gladness, bless and enable the world far and near.  We are grateful for those who elected to stay in this valley and make its history.  We are proud of their achievements and the things that they have inspired others to perform.  We thank thee for those who have endured to the end, have not allowed religious services to cease nor faith to falter.  And now, as we look into the future, may we not allow distrust to blind us or disappointment to embitter us, but may we, with the sublime faith of the Psalmist say; ‘I will fear no evil for thou art with me.’  Amen.”

(Courtesy Ware River News, June 29, 1938 located with the assistance of author J.R. Greene.  You will find Mr. Greene’s documentation of the prayer in his book, From Valley to Quabbin, p. 45, Athol Press, Athol, MA.)

Opening of New Exhibition

I’m happy to announce the start of an exhibition of my work at the Westborough (Massachusetts) Public Library, “Constructing Quabbin.”

Constructing-Quabbin-Hunt-Exhibition-saved-for-web

Tbe exhibition reflects my latest thinking about the experience of working at the Quabbin and the difficulty of reconciling all of the feelings that one experiences there.  The Quabbin is not just a beautiful location.  It raises quite issues that are relevant to all of us.  I’ve been thinking more about what it takes to make a society work, and in particular the sacrifices that you find whenever you scratch the surface.  The Quabbin area we know now represents a marvel of engineering and design, an incredible natural comeback going far beyond what anyone human could accomplish, a wonderful and amazingly cheap source of water, a carbon sink sucking up CO2 and spewing forth oxygen, a home for wildlife, a place for spiritual contemplation and even healing and at the same time a symbol of enormous imposed loss and sacrifice.   The individual and collective collided. Some good came of it, and some bad.  Too much to deal with it seems but I feel drawn to try. Simply put, the exhibition is about now and then with a focus on observable artifacts and experiences.  The observer will have to draw their own conclusions.

Westborough Public Library is located on Route 30, just south of the Westborough rotary. Unfortunately during much of the day the exhibition space is not supervised and as such the librarians may lock the door.  If you visit, just go to the main library desk.  The folks who work there are extremely nice and they’ll let you in. The Library is closed on Sundays.

On August 28, beginning at 6:30, I’ll be giving a slide show and talk about the images, their history and my experience of photographing at the Quabbin.  Refreshments of the non-alcoholic kind will be available, so if you’re interested and in the area, please stop by.

I want to thank the Westborough Public LIbrary and the Art and Frame Emporium, located in Westborough, for their support.

 

The Dike in Winter

I remain challenged by the great structures that hold back the waters of the Swift River, creating the Quabbin Reservoir.  They are big, but also quite beautiful in their own way.  What has become clear is that you have to get out there to photograph in many different conditions, varying the light, the sky, the wind, etc.  We had a fairly decent snowfall earlier this week, which presented the opportunity to explore Goodnough Dike, inside Quabbin Park (Ware, Massachusetts) in a new way.

Hunt_140208_113249-Edit

The snow was pristine.  Coming from the city, where of course the snow turns grey (and a variety of other colors) very quickly, it was refreshing to see a kind of purity.  That purity, however, was disrupted by a young man, probably around ten, who decided he wasn’t going to take the road up to the top of the Dike.  He was going straight up.

Hunt_140208_113510-Edit

He did make it.  A testament to Yankee fortitude perhaps.  His trail begins at the bottom of this image.  Enjoy the weather.