This archival image was taken by one of my Gr-great Aunts in Petersham, Massachusetts back in the 1920s. It depicts a marvelous signpost, and one can imagine motoring along country roads with Aunt Het and Aunt Bess in their old Model T. But you could not take that trip today, and you could not have taken it even in the 1940s. Not to Dana, anyway.
Dana was one of four rural communities in the Swift River Valley of Massachusetts that disincorporated in 1938 and flooded to create the Quabbin Reservoir and supply urban areas in Eastern Massachusetts desperate for water. Along with neighboring Enfield, Greenwich and Prescott, Dana ceased to exist. The Metropolitan District Water Supply Commission purchased more than 60,000 acres in the Swift River Valley and acquired the rest by eminent domain. Land from the four towns outside the Quabbin basin was annexed to surrounding communities, including Petersham.
"While the buildings in the towns flooded by the reservoir were destroyed, the cellars were left intact. The remnants of the buildings and roads can occasionally be seen when the water level is low, and old roads that once lead to the flooded towns can be followed to the water's edge. Not all elements of the towns were flooded, however. Town memorials and cemeteries in the four towns were moved to the Quabbin Cemetery, located on Route 9 in Ware, just off of the Quabbin's lands. Many other public buildings were moved to other locations."
Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld has written a novel about the drowning of the Swift River Valley. There is also Quabbin chronology here. Today the Quabbin is the largest expanse of undeveloped land in the Commonwealth, so wild that evidence of catamount has been found here. Boston and surrounding communities have potable water in sufficient quantity, as the Quabbin holds 412 billion gallons when filled to capacity. But you won't find Dana on Mapquest, or any sign of this signpost in Petersham.