At the SRVHS executive meeting in New Salem on January 21, Tom Mahlstedt and Boston University graduate intern Marie Blake gave a progress report on the Cultural and Historic Sites Research Project for the Quabbin Section. Using computer-generated charts and maps, Tom explained how the information gathered in the past four years by the B.U. interns, with assistance from Joe Cernauskas in the fieldwork, has resulted in over 900 potential sited being identified.
According to Tom, Adam Fuchs, the first B.U. intern to work on this project, prepared the original site forms and the overall format for the four-year study. Using the real estate records of the original MDC takings, other old maps dating as far back as 1795, and other archival material, the project for the Quabbin Section is now in its final stages. Although the count is not final, 174 potential sites have been identified on the Prescott Peninsula, 197 sites in the Petersham block (which includes the Dana area), 170 sites in the Hardwick block (including Greenwich and parts of Ware), 168 sites in the New Salem area, and 145 sites in the Pelham block (which includes parts of Enfield, Belchertown and Shutesbury). Not all the sites have yet been visited during the fieldwork, especially on the Prescott Peninsula. Some of the sites are especially difficult to pinpoint because they were bulldozed over at the time of the taking and planted over with red pine plantations.
Marie Blake reported that she is at present completing the documentation of the fieldwork for the Pelham block. During the fieldtrips in that area, at least seven sites were located that were not on any maps. Ten district school sites were identified, as well as several mill sites and many farms and shops. Altogether, more than 72% of the sites in the Pelham block were visited. Marie explained the procedures used in documenting the information for each site.
Additional fieldwork needs to be done in the Prescott area this spring, as soon as the weather permits.
The Quabbin Reservation can be considered a real historic and archaeological treasure. As part of this year's celebration of the history of the valley, MDC is planning to make a special presentation of maps, material and information to the historical society.