We took the scenic route out to Amherst to drop the kidlet off at school this weekend (2 to 202 to 9), but instead of heading straight there, once we got to Rte. 9, we headed east for a couple miles to check out our main source of water, the Quabbin Reservoir.
There are a number of places where you can view one of the largest drinking-water reservoirs in the country; we went for the easiest to access - the visitor center off Rte. 9 in Belchertown. The visitor center (which doubles as the MWRA's Quabbin offices and a State Police barracks) has all the basics you need to know about the history of an increasingly thirsty Boston, the reservoir's creation and the towns it ended. And then you get to walk along the top of the Winsor Dam, from which you get a nice vista of the reservoir (and from which you can ponder the fact that the view is only of a very small part of the 38.6-square mile reservoir).
The state's no longer in an official drought and the Quabbin's full of water, but at the end of the summer, naturally it's not 100% full:
Don't think of going for a swim in the Quabbin (the DCR does allow some limited boating, although not from the visitor center, where the only boats allowed in are owned by the MWRA and the DCR, which use them to scare away gulls, when not recovering parts of drones that fall in, which is one reason the state normally doesn't allow drone flights over the water):
The Winsor Dam, which holds in one of the two main parts of the reservoir, is named for the engineer who oversaw its construction (although he died before it was completed) and is one of the largest dams in the eastern US (in the 1930s, the state tried a flock of sheep to keep it mowed; but even with the money from their wool, the sheep turned out to be not very economical):
There's a marker at the far end of the dam, but you can keep going on an extensive trail system (if you keep going into the woods, you can see the spillway used to keep the Swift River flowing towards the Connecticut with daily releases of at least 20 million gallons of water - a condition of the permit signed by the Secretary of War back in the day, after the state of Connecticut threatened to sue over the loss of water):
If you can take your eyes away from the water or the fields and trees 170 feet down on the grassy side, you can spot some interesting stones in the walls that line the top of the dam:
Until a fire in 1990, a hydroelectric station generated electricity (there are still functioning hydroelectric generators at the Wachusett Reservoir, where Quabbin water flows before heading to Boston):
The visitor center and surrounding lands are a "take in, take out" facility - you're supposed to bring out everything you brought in, but based on the men's room (which overlooks the reservoir), not everybody comprehends that idea: