Interpretive Trail Marking the History of the Mill River Flood to Offer Service-Based Learning

Interpretive Trail Marking the History of the Mill River Flood to Offer Service-Based Learning

The Williamsburg Woodland Trails Committee is about to begin construction of a new trail that will provide public access to the ruins of the dam that caused the disastrous flood on May 16, 1874. The dam was built by a group of local factory owners to provide dependable water power to their mills. The design and construction of the 600′ long dam, however, proved to be inadequate and the dam burst. The resulting 600 million-gallon flood claimed 139 lives and destroyed much of the villages of Williamsburg, Skinnerville, Haydenville, and Leeds before depositing most of its debris in the meadows of Florence. At the time, it was the worst public works disaster in the history of the nation.

Now, adjacent landowners are collaborating with the Trails Committee on the construction of a new mile-long trail that will allow the public to hike to the ruins of the dam. The trail will traverse land that is part of a 250-year-old farm, and will also be used to tell the story of that farm and of local agriculture and forest management. The trail will include several footbridges, kiosks, interpretive signage, benches, and striking views of the gorge that the river follows below the failed reservoir. There will be extensive technical trail construction needed to make this a safe, enjoyable trail experience for users.

The community is invited to help and to be an exciting part of the creating of a community-based resource that will support the interests and education of residents and visitors to the area. 

The trail will be constructed almost entirely by volunteers from the community, and paid for by donations. If you would like to participate in one or more work days, or contribute financially to the project, please do so via www.williamsburgwoodlandtrails.org.

If you have questions about volunteering, please contact John Hoogstraten at jhoog@comcast.net or 413-268-7523. They are tentatively planning on having workdays on the first Saturday, third Sunday, and fourth Wednesday of each month beginning on Saturday, June 4th, 2016, which is, appropriately, National Trails Day.

 

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