Williamsburg Woodland Trails
This program is funded in part by Mass Humanities, which receives support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and is an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
On May 16, 1874, The Mill River Flood disaster claimed 139 lives and devastated the villages of Williamsburg, Skinnnerville, Haydenville and Leeds. The flood resulted from the failure of a dam which had been constructed by local mill owners three miles north of the Village of Williamsburg. The 600 million gallons of water that burst from the dam destroyed dozens of mills and houses and changed the appearance and the course of our town's history forever.
The ruins of the dam still exist today in the woods north of Williamsburg, but until now there has been no access to the site for the general public. Adjacent landowners and the Northampton Water Department (which owns the site of the ruins) have collaborated with the Trails Committee to develop a new pedestrian trail from Ashfield Road to the Dam ruins. The trail tells the story of the Flood and also the 250 year history of the Hemenway family farm and forest management in the Hilltowns.