History of the Wachusett Reservoir

History of the Wachusett Reservoir

In 1897, the Nashua River above the town of Clinton, Mass was impounded by the Wachusett Dam; 4,380 acres were flooded in the towns of Boylston, West Boylston, Clinton, and Sterling. Work was completed in 1905 and the reservoir first filled in May 1908. At the time of construction, the Wachusett Reservoir was the largest public water supply reservoir in the world and today it is the second largest body of water in Massachusetts. Hear the history of this massive project and how Wachusett Reservoir fits into supplying 3.1 million people with pure unfiltered drinking water.

On Friday, September 8, at noon, we will hear Kathryn Parent, Program Coordinator, DCR Division of Water Supply Protection, describe the history of the Wachusett Reservoir.

This program will be live in the Woodbury Room at the Jones Library in Amherst.

Please note that we have discovered a conflict with the date of our next History Bite, Occupying Massachusetts. The presentation by Sandra Matthews and David Brume will be postponed until the week of May 11.

Planes in America

Planes in America

Because of Amherst’s connection with the manufacture of carpenters’ planes in the 19th century — see the Nutting and Kellogg planemakers — I was intrigued by this display, seen on a recent trip to Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia:

‘While tradesmen relied heavily on English tool imports, some woodworkers began to specialize in the production of planesFrancis Nicholson, the earliest known American planemaker, was working in Massachusetts by 1728. He trained both his son and enslaved artisan Cesar Chelor in the trade.

‘Chelor, freed in 1753 by Nicholson’s will, went into the planemaking business for himself. For the next 31 years he signed his planes with various marks like CESAR CHELOR LIVING IN WRENTHAM. He married, had children, and pursued his trade in Wrentham until his death in 1784. It is estimated that Chelor made thousands of high-quality planes… ‘ 

And while at Williamsburg, and again at Sturbridge Village, I visited the Cooper’s shop, and there saw the longest (six feet?) carpenters’ planes I have ever seen — much longer than any in our collection.  Here is a photo of the Williamsburg cooper with his plane.

Historic apple tree knocked down

Historic apple tree knocked down

Over the weekend, our 100-year-old apple tree was knocked over by a gust of wind, onto the Strong House. We are lucky there was no great damage to the Museum building – the branches only knocked out one window. And our intrepid Building and Grounds Committee has been on the case, clearing brush and cutting the wood into manageable lengths… but there’s still that hole in the ground.

Feel free to stop by and inspect our grounds’ New Look on Saturday, July 8, when we are hosting our second Art (and Artists) on the Lawn, from 11 to 3.

Dairy in Amherst

Dairy in Amherst

June is National Dairy Month. The Amherst History Museum lets us remember the dairy industry in Amherst — we have a cabinet display of Amherst memorabilia, including milk bottles from Amherst dairies, and even an old ice cream container from the old Amherst Creamery!

Celebrate UMass

Celebrate UMass

UMass graduation is this weekend, so it is appropriate to remember that the Massachusetts Agricultural College was founded 160 years ago, in 1863. It was founded as a result of the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862, ‘… to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts…’  MAC’s sister institution, focused more on the mechanical arts, is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Massachusetts Agricultural College was renamed the  Massachusetts State College in 1931, and then became the University of Massachusetts in 1947. And for its 150th birthday in 2013, WGBY aired a one-hour show, The Radical Idea, which traced the institution’s founding, early years, and evolution. And in 2017 the Amherst Historical Society hosted a talk by the late Dr Rob Cox on diversity in the early days at Mass Aggie.

History of the Emily Dickinson Museum

History of the Emily Dickinson Museum

The Dickinson Homestead was built by Samuel Fowler Dickinson in 1813. It was occupied by his son Edward, and then by Edward’s two daughters, Emily and Lavinia. The house was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1963, and in 1965 it was sold to the Trustees of Amherst College, who used it as faculty housing, with some rooms open to the public. In 2003 the Emily Dickinson Museum was established; it has since become such a vital and vibrant part of the Amherst community that one can hardly imagine Amherst without it.

On Friday, April 14, at noon, we will hear the Museum’s Executive Director, Jane Wald, describe the history of the Emily Dickinson Museum, and the changes it has gone through.
Here is the Zoom link:   https://us02web.zoom.us/s/83249382098#success
Please note that we have discovered a conflict with the date of our next History Bite, Occupying Massachusetts. The presentation by Sandra Matthews and David Brume will be postponed until the week of May 11.