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Ghost Town USA’s

Guide to the Ghost Towns of

MASSACHUSETTS

“The Bay State

 

 

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Western & Eastern Treasures

Ghost Town USA Column Index for Massachusetts

Dating to the earliest days of Britain’s colonial aspirations, Massachusetts was the site of the Plymouth colony as well as later ones.  They were followed by a number of military posts, both English and American.  From the earliest days, up through the early 1900s, agriculture, milling and manufacturing became major industries, and were the focus of many inland communities many of which grew up into villages or towns.   During the 20th Century, many of these small communities faded or disappeared.

 

As Boston continued to grow, there was an obvious need to provide more water, so the city began to purchase land off to the west.  Here in the rolling countryside were numerous locations that could serve as reservoirs for the city’s growing population.  In the 1930s it cast its eyes on the Swift River and Ware River valleys and the fading milling and agricultural towns located there.  The city purchased these properties, and razed entire towns to make way for the massive Quabbin Reservoir, and the smaller Barre Falls Reservoir.

 

Boston is also directly responsible for a number of other ghost towns, in the guise of military posts.  Boston Harbor has a number of strategically located islands and points, many of which were converted to by the military into forts and posts used to protect the City of Boston.

 

Massachusetts and the rest of New England are seldom written about in Ghost Town literature, but these states are rich in heritage, although not of the stereotypical Western Ghost Town style.

 

HELP! (NEW FEATURE) Please check here to find a list of ghost towns that various contacts are looking for.  IF you have any information on these places please e-mail me and I can respond back to those looking for info on these ghosts.

 

PLEASE NOTE: 

Where photos are indicated thusly (PHOTO!), please use your browser’s “BACK” button to return to this page.  More photos will be added over time.

 

THE GHOSTS

 

BANCROFT

Hampshire Co.

 

This old class D milling town was located along the east bank of the West Branch Westfield River.  The Berkshire Tissue Mills, which operated here, closed in 1894.  Other buildings included a meetinghouse, offices and a school.

DANA

Worcester Co.

This milling town was destroyed when the Quabbin Reservoir was built in 1938.  Three villages were a part of this town.  Dana Common, North Dana and Doubleday Village.  It was alive from 1801-1938, and had a maximum population of about 876 in 1860.

Davis Mine

Franklin Co.

3.9 miles from Rowe Town, on left fork 2.4 miles north of Charlemont.   This pyrite-mining town was active from 1882-1910.  By the mid 1930s only the blacksmith shop and 150 cellar holes remained.  See our DAVIS MINE page for more details.

DOGTOWN

Essex Co.

This deserted 1719-1830 village is located west of Long Beach, midway between Glouchester and Rockport on Cape Ann.

ENFIELD

Hampshire Co.

This milling/farming town was destroyed when the Quabbin Reservoir was built in 1938.  A pair of post offices/villages made up this town.  They were Enfield Center & Smith’s Village.  The town incorporated in 1816 and had up to 1000 people at its peak.

FORT INDEPENDENCE

Suffolk Co.

Fort Independence is a pentagonal five-bastioned, granite fort built

between 1834 and 1851.  It is located on Castle Island, one of Boston’s urban parks.  This old fort is on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as being a National Historic Landmark.

GEORGES ISLAND

Suffolk Co.

Located at the outer end of Boston Harbor, this island’s history dates to 1690 when an English fleet used it as a staging point for an attack on Canada.  In 1778 the French occupied the island, and in 1833, American Fort Warren was established here.  In 1861, it held Confederate prisoners of war.  The fort was decommissioned in 1928, but reactivated briefly during WWII.  It has been vacant since. The site is now part of Boston Harbor Islands State Park.

GREENWICH

Hampshire Co.

This milling/agricultural town was destroyed when the Quabbin Reservoir was built in 1938.  It consisted of Greenwich Plains and Greenwich Village.  It had 1460 folks in 1800.

HIGGINS TAVERN

Barnstable Co.

The original site of the Higgins Tavern in Barnstable County is now Gills Sunoco Station on Route 6A in Orleans. The original building was later moved across the street and eventually became the Olde Tavern Motel which is still in operation. 

Contributed by Peter Field, April 19, 2006

NORTH PEPPERELL

Middlesex Co.

This old class B milling community was located along the Nissitissett River, north of Pepperell.  During the first part of the 1800s, North Pepperell had a grist mill, post office, sawmill, brick school house, store and tavern.  Sometime after the War of 1812, a woman moved into a cabin on the outskirts.  She was accused of being a witch, and after being physically attacked, is said to have put a curse on the town.  She then disappeared, and most folks ignored her curse.  Through the rest of the century major fires burned the shoe shop and four of the mills.  Also, a few folks died unusual deaths, and by 1885 the town was deserted.  (GBS)

 

I'm doing some research on a town you refer to as "North Pepperell". I understand the true name is "North Village".  I've found more information: "North Pepperell witch? Just after the war of 1812 the townspeople of Pepperell, MA branded a woman with a hot iron of a cross on her forehead because of her "queer looks and actions". She was thought to be a witch and murderess. After this the woman cursed the town (also known as the five prophecies) and as story tells it, it came true." I understand that Yankee Magazine had an article on the town, printed about 40 years ago. But I've been unable to find it. 

 

Contributed by: Michael, Dec 16, 2005

PRESCOTT

Hampshire Co.

Consisting of two villages, this agricultural and milling town was also destroyed when the Quabbin Reservoir was built in 1938.  Prescott and North Prescott each had their own post offices and churches, and between them reached a total population of 780 people.

QUINAPOXET

Worcester Co.

In the mid 1930s, only rubble and a watering trough marked the site of once prosperous mill town.  Location not determined.

SKINNERSVILLE

Hampshire Co.

The huge brick Usquomonk Silk Mill was once located along Mill River, and SH 9, a mile southeast of Williamsburg.  At one time it was the largest manufacturing plant in the town.  In 1874, the factory, village and four people disappeared when flash flood washed Skinnersville down the valley and off the map. 

 

MORE INFORMATION

 

Historians estimate that there may be as many as 50,000 ghost towns scattered across the United States of America.

Gary B. Speck Publications is in process of publishing unique state, regional, and county guides called

The Ghost Town Guru's Guide to the Ghost Towns of “STATE”

These original guides are designed for anybody interested in ghost towns. Whether you are a casual tourist looking for a new and different place to visit, or a hard-core ghost town researcher, these guides will be just right for you. With over 30 years of research behind them, they will be a welcome addition to any ghost towner's library.

Thank you, and we'll see you out on the Ghost Town Trail!

 

For more information on the ghost towns of MASSACHUSETTS, contact us at

Ghost Town USA.

 

E-mailers, PLEASE NOTE:

Due to the tremendous amount of viruses, worms and “spam,” out there, I no longer open or respond to e-mails with unsolicited attachments, OR messages on the subject lines with “Hey”, “Hi”, “Need help”, “Help Please”, “???”, or blank subject lines, etc.  If you do send E-mail asking for information, or sharing information, PLEASE indicate the appropriate location AND state name, or other topic on the “subject” line.

THANK YOU!  :o)

IMPORTANT

 

These listings and historical vignettes of ghost towns, near-ghost towns and other historical sites in MASSACHUSETTS above are for informational purposes only, and should NOT be construed to grant permission to trespass, metal detect, relic or treasure hunt at any of the listed sites.

 

If the reader of this guide is a metal detector user and plans to use this guide to locate sites for metal detecting or relic hunting, it is the READER'S responsibility to obtain written permission from the legal property owners. Please be advised, that any state or nationally owned sites will probably be off-limits to metal detector use. Also be aware of any federal, state or local laws restricting the same.

When you are exploring the ghost towns of MASSACHUSETTS, please abide by the Ghost Towner's Code of Ethics.

 

 

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First Posted:  June 01, 2003

Last Updated: August 07, 2010

 

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