With Halloween just around the corner, now is the perfect time to explore Massachusetts’ abandoned towns.
Massachusetts is home to some of the first settlements in the United States, so it’s no surprise that there are plenty of ghost towns in the state. Whether the original inhabitants abandoned the villages over decades or were forced to leave, there’s plenty of interesting history remaining for you to explore on a hike through ages past.
Located between the towns of Gloucester and Rockport on Cape Ann, Dogtown is an abandoned settlement that was founded in 1693. Despite the land’s poor soil quality, the town was settled because its inland location granted protection from pirates (#pioneerproblems). Towards the end of the War of 1812, residents feared the coast settlement would be destroyed, and the town was almost completely abandoned. The few people who remained were mostly widows, and many were suspected of being witches. Many of the old residents’ pets soon roamed the streets, giving the area the name of ‘Dogtown.’ These feral dogs wandered the streets and howled at the moon along with the local wold population. Considering that the local Agawam Indians stated that their ancestors actually possessed heads like dogs, werewolves myths still persist around the area.
Today, Dogtown in Massachusetts is a rugged 3,000 acre park where visitors can see the village’s abandoned cellar holes and roam the trails and tangled forest surrounding the unfortunate town.
Catamount is a former village located in the small town of Colrain, Massachusetts. In its heyday, Catamount was a farming community throughout the 18th century. But during the 20th century, it was abandoned due to its remote location and treacherous terrain. In 1967, it became the Catamount State Forest, which has remained mainly abandoned since.
About the only thing left of the Catamount village in western Massachusetts is a stone marking the place of the schoolhouse, which was the first in the U.S. to fly an American flag in 1812.
3-6. Quabbin Reservoir Towns
The Quabbin Reservoir is the water supply for the entire city of Boston. But to form the reservoir, four towns were disincorporated in 1938: Dana, Enfield, Greenwich, and Prescott. Many parts of the towns were flooded without fully being demolished, and remains of building structures can be found under the reservoir to this day. Plus, you can still find some cellar holes in what was once Dana near the reservoir.
New England Living recently published a history of the Quabbin ghost towns, if you’re interested in learning about the lives of these towns before they ‘drowned’. Fun fact: Enfield held a ball on April 27, 1938, and the town’s residents counted down to midnight when the towns no longer officially existed.
7. Long Point
Long Point was a community located at the very tip of Cape Cod in present-day Provincetown. Fishermen were drawn to the peninsula because of its proximity to the water and its abundance of fish. Eventually, the settlement of Long Point grew into a community that thrived from 1818 until the 1850s. According to legend, when the residents started to leave, they took their houses with them by floating across the harbor to Provincetown, where many still stand. While the island was used again during the Civil War, today the island is desolate.
8. Whitewash Village
Established around 1710, Whitewash Village was a settlement on Monomoy Island, located underneath the “elbow” of Cape Cod. In the 19th century, settlers became attracted to the abundance of cod, mackerel, and lobsters in the area. Eventually, the town be home to about 200 residents, a tavern for sailors, an inn, and a public school. But in 1860, a hurricane destroyed the village, and the residents who evacuated did not bother to return. The geography of the area is ever-changing, especially in large storms, and the only remaining structure is the Monomoy Point Light.
Davis was an abandoned mining village, located near the modern-day town of Rowe in western Massachusetts. After H.J. Davis discovered iron pyrite in the area, the settlement flourished into the largest iron pyrite mine in the state towards the end of the 19th century. However, poor mining practices led to a collapse of the mine in 1911 (thankfully non-fatal!). Over the next 20 years, the surrounding camp was abandoned, leaving behind a blacksmith shop and 150 of cellar holes that can still be explored today
[featured image: @thatfrigonhiker]