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Samuel PR Triscott, Lake Quinsigamond, 1878

Lake Quinsigamond

Lake Quinsigamond is about five and one half miles long, and in the upper part, one-quarter of a mile wide, and in the lower part about one mile wide. Through a large part of its course it might be taken for a wide, slowly moving river. It fills a small part of a great rock valley lying between Mill Stone Hill ridge and the high rock ridge extending through the southwestern, western and northwestern parts of Shrewsbury. The altitude from the lake to the highest point on Mill Stone Hill is greater than the elevation of the lake above sea level.


The lake does not rest directly on the floor of the rock valley, but on sand and gravel twenty-five, or perhaps fifty feet thick. This valley is an old river valley, which was rounded out and deepened by the ice of the glacial period.  Consider it, a great valley filled with the ice of the glacial period from rock surface on the east to the rock surface on the west and from the rock floor to the top of the enclosing ridges and beyond.

Where the ancient river was just before the glacial period must’ve been the deepest part of this valley. And as is common with all New England, this river was moving with a rapid current, carving a channel in the valley not of uniform depth.  For in places, there are great cavities sunk in the sand and gravel, and some of these hold little lakes, which rise and fall with the water in Lake Quinsigamond. 

Think now of the last stages of the glacial period, when the ice was melting away and disappearing from the land about us. As the ice melted there were an abundance of streams, some on the ice and some following tunnels within the ice.  The streams carried sand and gravel which had been caught within the glacial ice. Unable to remove the debris entirely, they distributed the sand and gravel over the surface of the ice. As the ice melted, the gravel and sand sank until at last it rested on the rock floor beneath.

But let our thoughts now return to the rock valley in which this lake lies. Let us remove in mind the sand, gravel and lake – that we may think of the region as it was before it was modified by the glacial agents. It was a broad, deep valley, five hundred feet deep, and with sides less rounded than now.  In this valley flowed a river, a powerful river, which overtime gave us, from north to south, our beautiful river-like lake, Lake Quinsigamond.

Joseph H. Perry, Physical Geography of Worcester, Massachusetts (Worcester Natural History Society, 1898)

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