The Beaman Watering Trough originally stood outside Beaman Tavern, the historic home constructed in the mid-1700s by town founder Ezra Beaman. It stood beside a large buttonwood tree at the edge of the property which Ezra himself planted. Horses could stop to drink from the trough when their owners visited the Tavern. The picture below depicts a horse sating its thirst beside the buttonwood tree.
According to local legend, Ezra filled the trough with rum punch on the day of the town’s incorporation and invited the townspeople to partake in the drink and celebrate with him. Ezra inscribed: "E.B. Sept. 10, A.D. 1808" on the trough's water pump to commemorate the official foundation of the town.
The trough moved to several different private residences after Beaman Tavern was sold in 1863. The Tavern became a mill workers’ tenement and was eventually destroyed with the arrival of the reservoir, but the trough survived. In 1930, the watering trough came to its current location: outside of the Beaman Memorial Library. Today the trough stands at the intersection of Newton and Central Street as a reminder of the town’s enthusiastic founder.
Fun fact: embedded in the ground before the watering trough is the actual front step from the original Beaman Tavern.
More trains chug through West Boylston as the reservoir's construction comes nearer and nearer.
The first image depicts a hillside covered in tree stumps, a symbol of the construction already underway. Within a few years, the water would rise to consume the land and the rails.
Second is a postcard from 1898: "West Boylston from Bullard Farm in 1898. But one building in this group still standing in 1908." That one building, visible on the left side of the photo, is the Old Stone Church. In only ten years, the town vanished, leaving only West Boylston's most famous landmark.
For more information on the town's railway system, click here.
"Realization That Day of Doom Has Dawned on the Town"--a headline which accurately summed up 1897 in West Boylston. For two years, the townspeople suspected the reservoir would soon flood the town. However, there was always that feeling that things could change for the town.
Then, once 1897 rolled around, the truth was undeniable: buildings would be destroyed or moved. People whose families had lived in town for generations may be required to relocate. Farmers would lose their land. The population of mill workers--largely immigrants--would lose their livelihood. Though some hoped for change, nothing would change. People would need to pack up their homes and plug up their plumbing. As Mary Cook puts it in the newspaper clipping below, "When the order comes to tie knots in their sink drains there is nothing to do but tie."
Want to know more about the construction of the reservoir? Take a look at one of our books: "Wachusett: How Boston's 19th Century Quest for Water Changed Four Towns and A Way of Life" by Eamon McCarthy Earls
1897 is a critical year in West Boylston history. That year, construction officially began on what would become the Wachusett Reservoir. Businesses were sold or moved. Homeowners sold their property to the state and went elsewhere. But, despite these new changes, the real destruction of the town had yet to begin.
Below are two clippings from newspapers in 1897. Both tell a similar story of the town's changing geography. Not only will the local post office move up the hill, but the family cemetery of the beloved Beaman family must relocate. The Beaman Cemetery is now located within Mount Vernon Cemetery.
The articles below are only two examples of the changes to West Boylston.