Wachusett Dam & Reservoir

Before There was a Dam

The Construction Railway

A Mountain of Dirt

Not for nothing is it called the world’s largest hand dug reservoir.

The Wachusett Reservoir covered about seven square miles of mostly farmland. To preserve the purity of the water to be stored within it, an average of one foot of silty soil, rich with organics, was removed to expose the underlying sandy basin floor.

Due to its impervious nature, the farm soil was ideally suited for use in the building of the North Dike in Clinton.

There being no roads, trucks or bulldozers the main problem would be to transport 7 million cubic yards of soil up to five miles for placement in the North Dike with the available tools – men with shovels, horses and narrow gauge (3 feet) steam railways.

Time was of the essence as the construction of the nearby Wachusett Dam was in full swing…and the waters behind it would soon began to rise rapidly.

Here are the logistics on how they managed to move a veritable mountain of dirt.



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