They Lost Everything
Courtesy of the author & Arcadia Press
Author Elena Palladino
The story of the Quabbin Reservoir is a story we’ve encountered in the past at SMG’s ‘Are We Here Yet?’ Podcast. Season one guest Levi Baruch and yours truly spoke of the on-going consequences of the forming of the Quabbin and questions of land-use that permeate to this day.
The Quabbin is a utility. It is the public drinking water supply for Boston and the Metropolitan District. The Quabbin is a place. It is striking how beautiful it is when one encounters its vastness and seeming purity. It is also a place of pain. If you believe a place can have a soul, the feeling that comes to mind when in the midst of the former river valley is: loss.
More than anything the Quabbin is people. Our guest Elena Palladino intends to tell the story of the people of the Swift River Valley through the lens of three of those people. Her book, Lost Towns of the Swift River Valley Drowned by the Quabbin tells the story of Marion Andrews Smith, daughter of the largest industrial family in the valley. Willard “Doc” Segur was the valley’s beloved country doctor and town leader. The third voice heard from in her book was Edwin Henry Howe, Enfield’s postmaster and general store proprietor.
Elena came to their story in a very personal way. Her family resides in the Quabbin House, developed by Marion Andrews Smith which includes parts taken from her family residence in Enfield, MA prior to its destruction to make way for the massive water management project.
Our conversation paints a vivid picture of their involvement in the end of their community and how they and subsequent generations chose to move on following the flooding of the valley to form the Quabbin. We spoke about the road to get there which began in earnest in 1895 and the elements of the Quabbin story which resonate into our time.
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