Nestled amidst a sprawling evergreen forest, the mirror-smooth waters of Lake McDonough lay in shadow even as the first searing beams of morning light break over nearby hilltops and cast a fiery glow upon the woodlands at the water’s edge.
“Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over.” So said the celebrated Mark Twain, whose words echo the bitterness which surrounded Connecticut’s hundred-year quest to build enough reservoirs to satisfy the water needs of its crowded capital region. Lake McDonough, at 400 acres, is among the more modest components of that system. Between the 1850s and 1960s, several dams were constructed in the hills west of the metropolitan area, completing a network of reservoirs that collects water from 90 square miles and provides for hundreds of thousands of people in Central Connecticut.
Interestingly, the dark side of this otherwise admirable accomplishment is nowhere in sight. That’s because rural towns and valley farms that found themselves in the path of these impoundments were buried without a trace in watery graves, sacrificed without ceremony in the struggle to secure mankind’s oldest necessity.
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