Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Quabbin Gate 40: The Dana-Greenwich Road

The walk from the parking lot at Gate 40 to Dana common along the old Dana-Greenwich Road is without question one of the most interesting two-mile stretches folks will encounter in the Quabbin watershed.

History greets you immediately at Gate 40, the old stone foundation of Asa "Popcorn" Snow's home laid out just north of the parking area.

Snow is a favorite character of Quabbin storytellers, his eccentricities varied and numerous. His nickname stems from the claim that his diet consisted solely of popcorn. After his death, he was interred in a mausoleum he'd had built on this site, which was moved in the 1950s as a response to recurring vandalism. Snow was a wealthy money-lender and rumor has it that he had buried his riches somewhere in the area or might have taken them with him.

It seems fitting that one is greeted by the ghost of such an eccentric individual on a visit to an unequaled civic undertaking tackled by engineers for whom eccentricity was almost as prominent a personal trait as intellect.

Gate 40 is located in Petersham, Massachusetts, on the west side of Rte. 32a, also known as Hardwick Road. It's about 3 miles down on the right of 32a from Rte. 122 in the north. Coming from Rte 32 in the south, it's about 9 miles up the road on the left from where scenic Rte. 32a breaks off, not far after Dana Road on the right.

Keep my New England heritage in mind whenever you attempt to follow my directions. Always good to adhere to the old "second source" rule. Ay-yuh.

There is plenty of parking and a porta-potty inside the gate. There's also a porta-potty at the Dana Common. For some odd reason, neither outhouse is universally-accessible.

The old Dana-Greenwich Road. Follow this paved road for about two miles to Dana common. Asa Snow's home would have been off to the right. The stone foundation is still visible through the undergrowth from the parking area.

On old topographical maps, this road, not far up the road on the right as you start for Dana common, appears as Conyonker Drive. It's shown as connecting with Dugway Road in the north at one time, but now comes out to Tamplin Road, travelling in a northwesterly direction. If you take a left onto Tamplin at the end, this will lead you south to the Dana town common, from there you can hook up with the Dana-Greenwich Road back to the parking area.

In this photo the road looks pretty tame, but it does turn into trail not far into the woods, and the Tamplin Road Loop Hike itself takes a bit of time and endurance. I neglected to measure the distance with my pedometer when I hiked the loop, but if I were to throw a guess out there, I would say it's a five or six mile jaunt.

Even if you decide to stick to the pavement, take a short walk up this road. On the left, not far in, there is a small foundation. On the right is a beautiful field behind a nice stone wall.

An orchard on the north side of the road. For birders, Gate 40 offers a healthy population of a variety of animal and plant species. Deer are often seen alongside or crossing the road and coyote scat is common along the road.

Some foundations look like you could just level them off a bit, add a sill plate and start building. One can only feel admiration for the amount of work that went into the construction of these cradles of ghosts of the past. Man goes but the stone remains.

These rusted parts are the remnants of an old car or truck. Spring is a nice time to visit because the foundations are still easily seen through the trees and undergrowth. The MWRA has been hard at work recently clearing many of the small trees and brush from around various home sites. They also maintain the 're-claimed' fields on either side of the road.

Looking back down Dana-Greenwich Road towards the gate. Look in the sky for swallows around here, you're bound to see some. The road is mostly paved, with a few spots where the asphalt has deteriorated. The grade is a combination of level ground and undulating hills.

Bicycles may be ridden on paved roads - but not dirt ones or trails - within the public areas of the watershed.

Pottapaug Pond through the trees south of the road. Look in the treetops for sleeping porcupines around here.

Field on the north side of the road right before you reach Dana common.

For more on the walk to Dana Common, check out the EWM post, Quabbin Gate 40: The Road to Dana Common.

For photos of the Dana common area, along with more Quabbin informational tidbits, take a look at EWM's, Quabbin Gate 40: Dana Common.

And for lots of Quabbin links and resources, on-site and off, make sure to stop by EWM's The Quabbin Page.

As always, thanks for stopping by and take care.

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