Gate 30 holds within its margin a relic of Quabbin chronicle that is still luridly tangible today. In 1866, a man named Adolphus Porter is credited with the construction of this bridge. It is said that he had assistance, but how much help he had is speculative, as is the extent of time it took to assemble. One consistent and very noteworthy factor remains, however, and that is that the bridge, built nearly 150 years ago, still stands today after being built by hand and with no mortar to seal it together! Rivaling modern machinery, Keystone Bridge in the Quabbin Reservoir forces one to acknowledge and validate the value of taking pride in your own labor, as its fruit and longevity transcend time, weather, traffic, politics, and every otherwise caustic force to genuine craftsmanship and American initiative.
Simply find where Route 122 splits from Route 202 and start south for about 2 football-fields’ distance to find Gate 30 on the right, directly across from Orange Road in New Salem (In truth, the Keystone Bridge is a share of Orange Road, but the crossroads of 122 and Orange Road were turned into a “T” when the Valley was flooded).
Keystone Bridge is so close to the gate, it’s scarcely worth measuring the actual expanse. From the gate, the average person could pitch a rock to it and if standing on the bridge you could realistically throw a rock at passing traffic on Route 122.
Prior to crossing the bridge, there is a well-camouflaged series of steps to the left, granting approach to the brook passing beneath the bridge. That “brook” is more widely known as the middle branch of the Swift River. Not only does Gate 30 house Keystone Bridge, but that bridge, an icon in and of itself, once provided safe passage over what has become one of the 3 main feeds to the Quabbin Reservoir.
The southward drift of the water is diffident, bearing in mind it lends to a 412 billion gallon basin. Watching it pass you by is almost derisory if you see it knowing what it creates. A beautiful and nostalgic sight, she is. The Keystone Bridge would humble even the most adroit Engineer today.
The photos speak for themselves, and I encourage every reader to not speculate on this entry alone, but to see the photos below, look for other photos online, and conduct an internet search for the history and construction of this bridge. Gate 30 goes well beyond the bridge to convene with the roads of Gate 29, and several cellar holes and other interesting phenomena can be found in this neighborhood as well.
Although I’ve never seen another person other than with whom I’ve traveled at this gate, people frequent this location for its bike paths but, above all, for the inscrutability and prestige associated with the Keystone Bridge.