Description - Completed in 1941 at a cost of $4 million, Birch Hill Dam was one the first dams the Corps of Engineers built in New England to prevent floods like those that devastated Athol and Orange in 1936 and 1938. Its storage capacity of 16.3 billion gallons of water could fill a train of tank cars approximately 1200 miles long.
The Reservoir Regulation Team (RRT), is the "nerve center" for the New England flood control dams such as Birch Hill Dam. Using radio and satellite communications, RRT constantly monitors river levels and weather conditions that influence flood control decisions.
- At one time most of the forests in New England were cleared for timber and farmland. Today the majority of forests are second growth, including those at Birch Hill. These second growth forest now provide a unique diversity of flora from the common Eastern White Pine to the uncommon Lady Slipper.
As you explore the area, you may come upon sites that hint at that history. Sites like King Philip's Rock where it is reported that the Chief of the Narragansett Indians, Metacomet (known by the English as "King Philip"), held tribal councils and met with English settlers.
Recreation - The park offers over 4,500 acres of public land for a multitude of recreational activities. Hiking, fishing, camping, canoeing, swimming and spring whitewater releases for kayaking are among the popular activities.
During the solitude of winter, visitors can enjoy cross country skiing, ice fishing, snow shoeing, and dog sledding.
Bird watching enthusiasts will find seasonal migrants and territorial residents year round.
Climate - Massachusetts experiences four distinct seasons with slightly varying temperatures in the inland and coastal regions. Along the coast the water is a moderating factor that often prevents large amounts of snowfall from accumulating through the winter. Summer temperatures are usually cooler than low lying inland areas, due to ocean breezes. This region of the country experiences high humidity in the summer season and temperatures that average close to 80 degrees F. Fall and Spring are pleasant times to visit the region with crisp air and low humidity. Brilliant foliage colors can be found in the central and western regions of the state in late September and October. Winter temperatures can be brutally cold on occasion with a humidity-filled wind, but on average winter daytime temperatures reach 35 degrees F and lows reach into the teens. Spring is usually the wettest time of year, but trees, bushes and flowers are blooming by early May.
Rte. 2 to exit 19, (Rte.2A/202.) Turn left off the exit, onto Rte.2A/202. Now take your first right onto Royalston Road. You will travel on Royalston Road for 4.3 miles at which point the road will end, turn left and travel 1 tenth of a mile. Turn right onto Birch Hill Dam Road. It is after the railroad tracks but before the bridge. Birch Hill Dam Road is actually the driveway for Birch Hill Dam.