This area of Brimfield was taken in the 1950's for an Army Corp of Engineers Flood Control Project, the damming of the Quinebaug river that had flooded Sturbridge, Southbridge and Charlton during the 1950's hurricanes forced the relocation of quite a few families off of their farms and homesteads. My grandfather Childs Wheaton was moved from his land, their are a number of foundations of houses, barns and outbuildings in this entire area surrounding the resevoir. A small number of people still live here although the area is primarily used for fishing, hunting, hiking, and canoeing. The small church still stands and may still be in use. Area dates back to the early 1700's and has lots of rockwalls and good bottle digging.
Tantiusques ("tan-tas-qua") is now a 57-acre (23 ha) park in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. The Trustees of Reservations owns and maintains the property.
The name comes from a Nipmuck word with a meaning close to "black stuff between the hills," referring to graphite deposits. The Nipmuck used the material to make ceremonial paints.
In 1644, John Winthrop the Younger, son of the first leader of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, purchased the mine and the surrounding land from the Nipmuck and began the first commercial mining operation on the site. Besides graphite, the mine yielded modest amounts of lead and iron. Despite difficulties extracting minerals and its poor financial return, the mine stayed in the hands of the Winthrop family until 1784.
In 1828, Frederick Tudor, a Boston merchant, purchased the property. He successfully mined the graphite for over a quarter of a century and employed Captain Joseph Dixon and his son, who would later found the J.D. Crucible Company of New Jersey. This company eventually evolved into Dixon Ticonderoga, the famous manufacturer of pencils.
By 1910 all mining operations at Tantiusques had ceased, but careful observers can still see the mine cuts, ditches, and tailings piles made by the various mining operations. The mineshaft that tunnels into the face of the low ridge is the most recent of all the excavations, dating to 1902. Most of the mining at Tantiusques was of the open trench variety. The cut along the top of the ridge is the partially filled-in remainder of what was once a several thousand foot-long trench, 20 to 50 feet (6 to 15 m) deep, and roughly 6 feet (2 m) wide, following the vein of graphite.
A meandering 1.5-mile (2 km) loop trail leads through woods filled with mountain laurel. This trail connects to a spur trail that passes through the adjacent Leadmine Wildlife Management Area and ends at the Crowd Site (purchased by the trustees in 2002), where visitors may view the foundations of Robert Crowd's house and barn. A man of mixed African American and Native American ancestry, Crowd worked at the Tantiusques mine in the 1850s.
Tantiusques was acquired by The Trustees of Reservations in 1962 through the generosity of Roger Chaffee. It was given in memory of his professor, George H. Haynes, of Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Professor Haynes, a Sturbridge native, had a great interest in the history of the mine. In 1902, Haynes published The Tale of Tantiusques - An Early Mining Venture in Massachusetts. In 1983, through the efforts of the Sturbridge Historical Commission, the mine was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
A short loop trail heads north along the Quinebaug River before turning west and proceeding up and over a steep hillside with rocky outcrops. Oak, hickory, white ash, and white pine make up the open canopy along the top of this “hogback” ridge, while hemlocks dominate below the ridge, forming dense stands. On the exposed ridge stand the stone chimney and foundation steps that remain from a cabin built in 1932. From this and other vantage points, visitors can take in views of Blake Hill to the east and Hamilton Reservoir to the south.
Near the ridgetop, a large, shaded vernal pool supports wood and pickerel frogs, American toads, and spotted salamanders. Along the banks of the Quinebaug River, beavers have taken down trees and constructed a lodge. Kingfishers and great blue herons hunt along the river’s banks and shallows, sunfish and bass can be seen from the shore, and cardinal flowers bloom in late summer along the river’s edge.
Located next to the 575-acre Army Corps of Engineers Holland Pond Flood Control and Recreation Area and near the 518-acre Leadmine Wildlife Management Area, Quinebaug Woods is a valuable addition to the broader ecological landscape.
The East Brimfield Dam is located on the Quinebaug River in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, approximately 20 miles (32 km) southwest of Worcester, Massachusetts.
Designed and constructed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, this dam substantially reduces flooding along the Quinebaug and Thames rivers. Construction of the project began in 1958 with completion in 1960 at a cost of US$7,020,000.
The East Brimfield reservoir is located within the Quinebaug River Watershed and is part of the Thames River Basin. Access to the site is available from US Route 20.