Massachusetts is Home to an Abandoned Town Most People Don’t Know

Massachusetts holds a wealth of history, culture, and natural beauty, with hidden secrets nestled within its forests. Among them lies the ghost town of Dana, a once-thriving community of farmers, loggers, and mill workers. Dana met its fate in the 1930s when it, along with three other towns, was disincorporated and submerged to create the Quabbin Reservoir, now Massachusetts’ largest inland body of water. Today, Dana remains accessible only by hiking or biking through the woods, offering adventurers a glimpse into the past and a unique experience.

The History of Dana

Established in 1801, Dana was named after Francis Dana, a prominent lawyer and diplomat. The town thrived on agriculture, lumber, and milling, boasting a population of around 1,000 at its peak. It was equipped with essential amenities like schools, churches, libraries, and stores, along with an annual fair that drew crowds from neighboring towns.

However, Dana’s fortunes took a turn in the 1920s when Massachusetts decided to build the Quabbin Reservoir to meet the water demands of Boston and its suburbs. The construction led to the flooding of approximately 39 square miles of land, including Dana and its neighboring towns. Residents were forced to relocate, and their homes and infrastructure were dismantled or destroyed. While the reservoir was completed in 1946, remnants of Dana, such as the town common, cemetery, and some foundations, remained above water.

Exploring Dana

Today, Dana is part of the Quabbin Reservation, accessible via a 2.5-mile dirt road starting from Gate 40 near Petersham. The road, closed to motor vehicles but open to hikers and bikers, leads to the Dana Common, once the heart of the town. Here, visitors can find a stone memorial listing former residents’ names and a map depicting the town’s layout before submersion. The common also features remnants of structures like the church foundation.

Venturing into the surrounding woods reveals more of Dana’s past. Visitors can discover the cemetery with its weathered gravestones, as well as the cellar holes and foundations of demolished buildings, some still displaying traces of their former architecture. Remnants of roads, bridges, and railroads hint at Dana’s connections to neighboring towns, while scenic views of the reservoir and forest, along with wildlife sightings, add to the experience.

The Experience of Dana

A visit to Dana offers a unique blend of history, nature, and adventure. It allows visitors to immerse themselves in the town’s story, pondering its sacrifice for progress, while appreciating the land’s natural beauty and serenity. Exploring a hidden ghost town in the woods sparks curiosity and imagination, leaving visitors intrigued by the secrets it holds. Dana promises to evoke feelings of nostalgia, inspiration, and wonder, leaving a lasting impression on all who tread its paths.


Dana, Massachusetts, stands as a hidden gem in the woods, beckoning visitors to uncover its tale. Despite being erased from maps, its memory endures, offering a window into the past and a challenge for the present. Whether drawn by history, nature, or adventure, Dana promises something for every visitor. So, don your hiking boots or grab your bike and embark on a journey to the Quabbin Reservation, where the abandoned town of Dana awaits—a timeless treasure amidst the wilderness.

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