Dis/Placement and Re/Membering:
The Quabbin and Hetch Hetchy Canyon
When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.
Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac, 1746
“Displacement and Remembering”: The Quabbin and Hetch Hetchy Canyon” will focus on the transformative events and political implications that emerge when land is claimed by water.
The phrase “Hetch Hetchy” means “native meadow grasses.” In California, the
land on which these grasses would grow, however, is under water, and has
been since 1923. The flooding of the Hetch Hetchy Valley
was done in order to provide water for San Francisco Bay area. According
to Tom Philp, Sacramento Bee journalist, in addition
to providing water for several California counties, Hetch Hetchy
provides almost eighty-five percent of the water for San Francisco
and approximately one-sixth of the city’s electricity. Today, a movement
is underway to reclaim
Hetch Hetchy, a “jewel” that Philp characterizes as being “locked
from the public, both by ranger’s key at 9 p.m. every day and by 300
feet of sparkling clear Sierra water.”
Water literally claimed the lives and homes of residents in the four Western Massachusetts towns of Dana, Enfield, Prescott, and Greenwich in the late 1920s. Residents had to relocate and find new homes and jobs. Buildings that made up these towns were removed, razed, or otherwise destroyed, and land was plowed under so that a reservoir that is thirty-nine square miles and holds over 400 billion gallons of water could be created. The Quabbin Reservoir, located just 20 minutes from the Mount Holyoke Campus, is one of the largest reservoirs in the world. Today, there are Quabbin survivors who gather regularly to recall their lost homesteads and interrupted childhoods.
Join us for an illuminating discussion of local and national history with Pulitzer
Prize-winning journalist Tom Philp, Harvard University Professor Lawrence
Buell, Abenaki historian Marge Bruchac, and MHC Professor Lauret Savoy.
Our panelists will focus
on the historical, political, environmental, and cultural implications of the Hetch Hetchy Canyon Reservoir
in California and on the Quabbin Reservoir and the flooding of four nearby
towns that occurred in order to provide water for Boston and other eastern
Cosponsored by the MHC Center for the Environment and the MHC Art Museum
Date: Thursday, September 28
Time: 7:30 PM
Speakers: Tom Philp, Lawrence Buell, and Marge Bruchac
Place: Gamble Auditorium, Art Building, Mount Holyoke College
Admission: Free and open to the public.
To Gamble Auditorium
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