The Dana Town Common is almost certainly one of the most visited sites in the Quabbin Reservoir. It is the last standing testament and site dedicated to one of the 4 towns that were flooded in order to fill the reservoir.
The Common, in truth, consists of nothing more than a stone monument that states the term of incorporation and to whom it’s dedicated, as well as old cellar holes and pathways. However, it is an historic Quabbin venue nonetheless, and one that does sequester itself as the principal hub of the East Quabbin.
First, find Route 32A in either Ware, MA or Petersham, MA. If coming from the south (Ware), then you can access 32A from Route 9. If coming from the north (Petersham), you can access it from Route 122. Again, if traveling from Ware, follow Route 32 through Ware until it splits to 32A in Gilbertville. Then follow through Hardwick and then past the Hardwick-Petersham line. Soon after, you will pass Gate 41 on the left, then the East Branch of the Swift River, and then soon after, Gate 40 will be on your left. If you drive under high-tension power lines, you’ve gone too far.
Likewise, from the north, you turn south off of Route 122 onto 32A and follow the road south until you drive under those same power lines. Soon after, Gate 40 will be on the right. Look for the guardrail that has purple spray paint, displaying “G-40.” One indicator is that Gate 40 will appear to be at an intersection, so be sure to look for a road coming out directly across from Gate 40.
Once you’ve arrived, lock the doors and get started because you won’t be back for a while! It’s about 2 miles from where you park to the Common. Many people bring bikes because of this expanse. Furthermore, the Dana Town Common is only one location you can get to via Gate 40. There are some very bike-friendly trails forward of the Common, and the road from the parking lot to the common is almost completely asphalt which makes it bike-friendly as well.
So, needless to say, the road to Dana is long…long, but interesting! Along this road you will find several old cellar holes. The road itself is primarily under a canopy of trees, but breaks from time to time, showing lush, open fields. The entire road has only one diversion, which goes back to the left, leading to Pottapaug Pond.
When the road finally ends, you come to the Dana Town Common. Greeting you immediately over the rise in the road is a stone monument facing where the road forks. Both roads go around the center of the Common, and each side offers avenues for viewing the residual sights.
On the left there is a spot in the woods that offers a glimpse into an old cellar hole, the likes of which surpass intrinsic detail of any other I’ve seen in the Quabbin Reservoir. Not only is this foundation larger than most, but the walls of the cellar consist of symmetrically perfect balls of rock. The panorama of this historical remnant shows the precision of modern-day machinery, but with the hand crafted eminence of a day when people took their time, paid attention to detail, and took pride in the craftsmanship and consequence of their labor.
On the right there are no foundations to speak of, however there is a rock walkway that leads to where the old Town Hall used to be. Aside from that, there is a field left open to roam around.
The center, where the roads traverse, is also open with only a few, scattered trees encroaching on the landscape.
Alone, the Dana Town Common is a wonderful place to visit. It is largely a focal point of attraction to people who wish to visit the Quabbin and feel a sense of unanimity with its past. You will see more people along the road and at the Common than you would see in most places. Aside from Winsor Dam and the Visitor’s Center in the south, Dana Town Common is probably one of the most visited locations in the Quabbin.
However, once seen, there is little more to accomplish in this actual location. The real endeavor is to explore the trails and pathways aft the Common.
Furthermore, unless you have 12 hours per day for 4 or 5 days, you will need a bicycle in order to see the scope and detail of these trails and where they take you.
It’s a unique countenance to this part of the Quabbin, specific to the Gate 40 territory because in most other locations, you have the ability to enjoy a day by entering through one gate and, if necessary, exiting through another while being able to take pleasure in every aspect of your day-long journey devoid of the inhibition of time and being required to meet an exit deadline; that is to say, you don’t have to set a waypoint as a point of return in most places. You may survey and explore all day long and simply find another exit along the way.
Gate 40 is separated from all points south by Pottapaug Pond and the East Quabbin as a general rule possesses more depth than any other part of the Quabbin, making it considerably more difficult to be conjoined by other nearby entries.
The road to Dana is certainly a destination worth encountering to say the least; one that holds a sense of limitless adventure and exploration. At every intriguing curve in the road you will find yourself asking, “What’s next?