HarrimanReservoir

The size of Harriman Reservoir is impressive, but its history is what grabs your attention. Along the reservoir’s floor are remnants of an old logging village that was flooded in the 1920s when the Deerfield River was dammed to generate power.

Harriman Reservoir, also known as Lake Whitingham, is the largest body of water located entirely within the state of Vermont. Enjoyed by boaters, swimmers, paddlers, and fishermen, the reservoir extends about 10 miles from Wilmington to Whitingham in southern Vermont.

The scenic reservoir is owned by TransCanada and is a source of hydroelectricity. Originally developed by the New England Power Company in 1922-23, the reservoir flooded the former pulpwood and lumber village of Mountain Mills, located just outside of Wilmington.

When water levels are low, you can occasionally spot submerged tree stumps and foundations from Mountain Mills. How extraordinary would it be to come across this forgotten little village?

An old postcard of Mountain Mills (courtesy of the Town of Wilmington).
An aerial view of Harriman Reservoir.

24 Comments

  • Hi Cedar – So true. I wonder how people felt about the flooding of Mountain Mills when the reservoir was developed. It’s such an interesting story.

    Hi Erin — Thanks for stopping by.

  • I am very pleased to have found your blog- I grew up in Vermont and know the state quite well… and often miss it! I have returned a great many times through the years! LC

  • This reminded me of the account of the Quabbin Reservoir in Western Massachusetts. Jane Yolen wrote a beautiful account of the flooding of three small towns to form the reservoir in the children’s book, Letting Swift River Go. Such a strange concept to think of your hometown being underwater, isn’t it?

  • Hi Margs,

    I thought a lot about the Quabbin Reservoir when I was researching this piece. I’ll have to check out Jane Yolen’s book. Yes, it is so strange to think of these towns being underwater.

  • I read a book about the lost village under water, do you know the name of that book? GS in MA

    • I realize this question was posted over 7 years ago so I don’t know the likelihood of this reply ever being seen. But–just in case!–Sue Miller wrote a novel titled “The World Below” which refers to Mountain Mills an the reservoir.

      • Hi Melissa — Thanks for the tip! I will have to check out the novel. I am familiar with Sue Miller but I wasn’t aware of this book. Thank you! -Erica

  • The planning for the future via the way of progress by dest planned destruction can set the times back. I believe what we think we created can very well destroy the heart and soul of the original place.

    Mountain Mills Vermont past lives on under the mounds of water above it, and tear drops that now surround it.

  • Found some pictures on the Hoosac Tunnel Railway site that shows the remains of the railroad trestle that led from the Mountain Mills town (now recreation area) across the Harriman Reservoir. Can still see the trestles that are set into the ground in the far back corner of the recreation area to align with.

    Pictures seem to be taken a few hundred feet away from the Mountain Mills Recreation Area towards the Ferry Launch area.

    http://www.hoosactunnel.net/HTW/MM/

    • Hi Sharon – Thanks for sharing those photos. That area is fascinating — I am always interested in learning more about it. Thanks again! -Erica

  • I love reading about all things Vermont. I spent my summers from 1973 until 1988 on the lake. My Grandparents were one of the only families that had a cabin/house on the lake during those years right off Castle Hill Road. We would water ski and boat from sunrise until sunset. Then have a bonfire on the beach almost every night while roasting smores. My cousins lived at the other end of the lake and we all had one of the best upbringings a child could ask for. I miss that area and lake so much.

    • Hi Brendon — Sounds like wonderful memories! That area is so beautiful, and the time you spent there as a child must have been absolutely magical. Thanks for saying hello. -Erica

  • I used to spend many weekends here with my parents and friends of the family.(1970’s) We would swim and water ski. My parents were later involved with the security & upkeep of the boat ramps, picnic and parking areas. I have very fond memories and hope I can visit again sometime.

  • Lost railroads, too. The Hoosac Tunnel & Wilmington, inundated by the Harriman Dam, and the Boston & Albany branch, lost to the Quabbin Reservoir in MA.

    • Hi William — Very interesting! I’ll have to look into that a bit more. Fascinating stuff, for sure! Thanks for saying hello! -Erica

  • My cousin and I are Boyd’s. Boyd’s who settled in Wilmington. (Benzil Boyd and Julia Ray Boyd). I think they are part of the group that got flooded out many years later and we are interested in researching this history of our family. If anyone knows anything, we would love to hear all about it!

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