Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Hike to Doubleday Village

These photographs are from a hike to Doubleday Village, located about halfway between Dana Common and North Dana in Petersham, Massachusetts, and nestled in the valley formed by Whitney Hill to its southeast and Rattlesnake Hill to its northwest.

The East Branch of Fever Brook runs through the village, one of several sacrificed for the construction of Quabbin Reservoir. As a result of the flooding of the Swift River Valley, the mouth of the brook has been pushed back to the eastern shoreline of Quabbin, closer to the village itself. Under the surface of Quabbin, running parallel to the shoreline to the west of Rattlesnake Hill, is the bed of the East Branch of Fever Brook. It connects with the sunken streambed of the West Branch of Fever Brook under the reservoir between Rattlesnake Hill and the extreme southern tip of North Dana peninsula. Before Quabbin, the West Branch of Fever Brook met the Middle Branch of the Swift River between the southern tip of the west side of the North Dana peninsula and the northern tip of Mt. Zion.

According to UMass Professor and diver Ed Klekowski in the documentary "Under Quabbin," the currents of the rivers under Quabbin still have an effect on water movement and even riverbed erosion, as evidenced by an abandoned and forgotten dump off the North Dana peninsula shoreline discovered and filmed by divers exploring the depths of the reservoir. Apparently the dump, located on the Middle Branch of the Swift River, was covered at the time of the valley's flooding and had only been exposed after many years of the river's unstoppable current washing over it.

The harnessable power of water current was no secret to the early settlers of the Swift River Valley. Beginning in the mid-18th century mills were built on the many rivers and streams in the area, for sawing wood, grinding grain and shaping steel, among other useful things.

The East Branch of Fever Brook has two sites where the remains of mills, known as the Doubleday Mills after the family that the village is also named after, can be seen.

The upper mill site is located where the East Branch of Fever Brook intersects the road heading west that connects the old Monson Turnpike to Doubleday Road. You can't miss it on the north side of the road. It's actually a very beautiful spot on the brook, which widens out on the south side of the road. Chances are excellent you'll see a blue heron in there somewhere.

The lower mill site is closer to the shoreline of Quabbin. Walking on Doubleday road heading toward the shoreline (southwest), the road to the second mill ruins will be on your right, not very far before the water's edge. This mill can also be reached via the north-south road that runs parallel to Rattlesnake Hill, on its east side. When the brook is low, you can cross by stepping on the old stones of the mill's foundation. This is handy if you want to hike a loop.

There were at least six homes along Doubleday Road in the area of the lower mill site. The Doubleday Village Common was located not far north of the mill site and can be seen today as a clearing in the woods.

The island looking across and southwest from the end of Doubleday Road at the Quabbin Shoreline is Leveau Island. Doubleday Road, traveling west, passed Leveau to the south on its way to connecting with the Monson Turnpike at the base of the east side of Mt. Zion.

Doubleday Village, like many Quabbin hiking destinations, can be reached a number of ways. I hiked there via the Federated Women's Club State Forest in Petersham. Gate 37 is another entry point. Both are north of the village. Both spots can be accessed off the south side of Route 122, between Routes 32a and 202.

My best advice is to get yourself a topographical map of the area. There are many roads in this particular area, most of them long and without a lot of connecting points in between. A wrong turn could mean a very bad day hiking. I use a simple map I grabbed off the internet and laminated with some stuff I had laying around. Some say cheap, I say frugal.

I started my hike from the Federated Womens Club State Forest in Petersham, where I was camping. This is the West Branch of the Fever Brook at sunrise.

The connecting road between the old Monson Turnpike and Doubleday Road heading southeast.

The old foundation of the Hannafin family home, local farmers. The Foster's lived next door, between the Hannafin farm and the East Branch of Fever Brook.

Some days are better than others.

This is what remains of the upper Doubleday Mill site on the East Branch of Fever Brook.

A different view of the ruins of the upper Doubleday Mill Site.

The East Branch of Fever Brook looking south from the upper Doubleday Mill site.

'Nuf said.

A photo hike of Quabbin isn't complete without at least one stone wall photo.

One of the old foundations on Doubleday Road.

The end of Doubleday Road heading southwest. Leveau Island is across the narrow stretch of water.

Looking northwest from the end of Doubleday Road. The North Dana peninsula is across the water on the right hand side. Mt. L is behind the little island on the left. In the far background between the two is Prescott peninsula. The Prescott peninsula is off limits to the public and is home to the Five College Radio Astronomy Observatory.

An old pipe near the end of Doubleday Road. Quabbin was very low when these photos were taken in 2002.

The remains of the lower Doubleday Mill dam on the East Branch of Fever Brook.

Looking down from the old dam of the lower Doubleday Mill site.

The mouth of the East Branch of Fever Brook.

Looking west from ridge above the mouth of the East Branch of Fever Brook. Mt. L is in the distance on the right, Leveau Island is on the left.

The Doubleday Village common.

An old open well.

The mouth of the West Branch of Fever Brook from Monson Turnpike Road, pretty much completing our circle.

To find maps of the Quabbin and Central and Western Massachusetts, check out the EWM page Trails, Rails & Roads: Maps.

For more about Quabbin history, take a look at the EWM exclusive The Quabbin Chronology.

As always, thanks for stopping by and take care!

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Bill Dusty said...

Excellent post, Mark! I love the old ruins and rock walls. What a great area we live in - a ton of history.

On that photo of the sun ray piercing through the forest ("Nuf Said"), did you check out where the rays hit the forest floor? Legend has it, when the little forest fairies of the East flutter around stealing jewelry and trinkets from campers and hikers, their booty can sometimes be found at the end of those rays. I've never found any loot, myself, but I keep looking.

Mark T. Alamed said...

Thanks, Bill.

You know, that's the first I've heard the "legend of the sunbeam."

You can be sure I'll look next time! Maybe I'll find myself a hand held GPS or new pedometer!

Anonymous said...

Was there an island north of Mt. L a smaller landmass it shows up on satellite image but not on any maps.

It has a strange two ringed crater on it and i've never heard of it until recently.

Mark T. Alamed said...

Quabbin Reservoir has over sixty islands within her banks. I'm not sure all of them are named.

Some land masses appear only when the water is at lower levels. That may be what's happening with the conflict between satellite and map images. The island may never have been mapped if it was underwater at the time of surveying.

As far as the double crater: Those are most likely impact holes caused by practice bombing runs from the nearby SAC base in Chicopee during World War II.