In 1927, a late season hurricane stalled over Vermont and Western Massachusetts and dumped a reported 6 to 15 inches of rain. Sections of North Adams, Pittsfield, and Lee all flooded, and Becket sustained heavy damages after the Claflin-Wheeler Reservoir Dam broke. After many field trips looking at North Becket History the last task was to visit the remains of the Claflin-Wheeler dam in North Becket. Tom Hoffman and I set out to find it. This dam breached in 1927, flooding the town. The remains of the dam are close to the road, however difficult to find with difficult terrain, so we used lidar. We bush wacked from Route 8 and followed the stream coming from Rudd Pond.

We came across a large dug out hole on a flat ledge, obviously dug out to use dirt to build the dam, just about 50 feet further we saw the dam wall. The dam looked to be about 300 feet across, and about 50 feet at its deepest. The front was a vertical stone wall, and earth was built up on the upstream side. The pile of dam boulders from the initial break still lay, we also observed many cracked boulders in the wall. The stone structure at the base of the dam had a water control valve, as water was let out but obviously not quick enough. This dam provided water for Becket Industry, however it also caused the most damage in it’s history. Was it built soundly? Too close to the village? I call it Man vs. Nature.

More info can be found at Courtesy Becket Historical Society.

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