A Hike to the Ruins of the Williamsburg Dam
with co-director and author Elizabeth M. Sharpe
Stereoview depicting the west bank of the dam showing the break in both walls.
Knowlton Brothers Photographers.
Join co-director Elizabeth Sharpe on a hike to the ruins of the Williamsburg reservoir dam in Williamsburg, Massachusetts. On May 16, 1874, the 42-foot tall earthen dam suddenly burst, unleashing one hundred acres of water onto the valley below. Within an hour, the flood devastated the villages of Williamsburg, Skinnerville, Haydenville and Leeds; 139 persons were dead. It was the first major dam disaster in US history.
Dr. Sharpe will discuss the dam's siting, construction, the flood itself, and the inquiry into who was responsible. She is the author of In the Shadow of the Dam: The Aftermath of the Mill River Flood of 1874 (Free Press, 2004).
The trail is approximately 1.5 miles total, of moderate difficulty, with some steep, slippery and rugged portions.
Registration is required.
Each hike is limited to 20 participants.
This program is held in cooperation with Williamsburg Woodland Trails, an organization which works to open, improve and maintain trails for appropriate community use.
Contributions will be split between Historic Northampton and Williamsburg Woodland Trails.
Visit their website for the Historic Dam Trail Story Map, an interactive way to experience the Historic Williamsburg Dam Trail and the 1874 Mill River disaster.