Saturday, March 14, 2009

Gate Five

The Road to Oblivion

As usual on Saturday I haven't much time for blogging. But here's a few quick things. Earlier today I went on the Old Enfield Road, now called Gate Five of Quabbin Resevoir. Enfield, Massachusetts is now buried beneath Quabbin, one of several Valley towns flooded to make the resevoir, which provides drinking water for Boston. Here's the entrance:

Old Enfield Road used to lead to Enfield. This is the town of Enfield as it appeared before being flooded out of existence.

From the Wikipedia:

Enfield was a town in Hampshire County, Massachusetts. The town was incorporated in 1816 from portions of Greenwich and Belchertown. It was named in honor of one of its early settlers, Robert Field. General Joseph Hooker, Union general during the American Civil War, was once a resident, and his grandfather was once a town leader.

It was centered at the junction of the east and west branches of the Swift River, and the Athol Branch of the Boston and Albany Railroad ran through the town. The town was disincorporated on April 28, 1938 and portions of the town were annexed to the adjacent towns of Belchertown, New Salem, Pelham, and Ware. (Not all of the former town is presently in Hampshire County; the portion ceded to New Salem is now in Franklin County.) The headquarters of the Metropolitan District Commission during the construction of the Quabbin Reservoir was located in the former town, and was the last building razed in the Swift River Valley, in 1940. The majority of the town center now lies submerged beneath the reservoir, although the Quabbin Observatory and Enfield Lookout, located on scenic Quabbin Hill, as well as the main entrance and headquarters of Quabbin State Park, a popular tourist destination with an emphasis on state history and nature, are all within the former town's limits.

Enfield House, an on-campus living facility at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, is named after the former town

While the snow pack in general has melted some over the past week, in the woods the snow covering is still quite deep.

It is incredibly pretty in spots along Gate Five, with a gurgling brook that makes a magical sound.

The road was mostly clear, but in spots we had to shuffle along on sheer ice.

It wasn't all virgin forest either, a wide swath has been cut to accomodate power cables.

We passed this mysterious foundation for a building no longer existing.

Perhaps sometimes a ghost visits it, wondering what became of the town. Soon we arrived at the point where the road disappears into the water, a dead-end that once led to the now vanished Enfield.

Suddenly the road ends and the trees part to show the wide open vista of the mighty Quabbin.

The resevoir is still pretty much frozen solid. Near the shore some of the ice has buckled, and as you can see the ice is quite thick, about 15 inches.

Here I am, relaxing by the shore, and grokking on all the nature all around me.

I'm so looking forward to all the fun adventures I intend to have this summer.

Bad Company

This is a picture of me and my bud Buddy cooking pancakes at the cot shelter in Northampton.

People sometimes ask me if I feel uncomfortable among the street people who make up a lot of the population I encounter at the shelter and at the Amherst Survival Center. The question makes me laugh.

For one thing, it isn't only alcoholics, drug addicts and other ne'er do wells who make up the homeless population. A small but significant percentage are people who are in some ways too good to make it in normal society - people too smart, too sensitive, too unwilling to compromise to fit in. Often they are among the wisest and most clear-eyed observers of our communities, and they usually have one thing in common. They look like bums you would mistakenly think you didn't want to meet.

As for the others, well, some of them are tough guys, although most people by the time they hit the cot shelter have been beaten down into passive resignation. But even the worst of them do not comprise what I would consider dangerous company. I know who the most dangerous people are, and they almost always wear suits and ties.

I've been in rooms full of politicians, business leaders, and educators, and felt in much more danger. The worst the street folk might do is roll me for what little money I have, but those suit and tie types want your soul, and they want it on the cheap.


Sugar said...

Whoopi always was very sensible and down to earth.

Mark T. Alamed said...

Nice Quabbin shots, Tom.

Mike Henry said...

The Quabbin gate signs might be smaller if the list what is allow there instead of whats not - that list must be shorter.