So far in the Newton Photo Scavenger Hunt, the most elusive photo to be identified has been #9 No Trespassing. It turns out it’s one of several warning signs (“Trespassers Will Be Met With Armed Response”) on the innermost of two layers of barbed-wire security fencing surrounding the Newton Reservoir — the covered reservoir that’s uphill from the much-better-known Waban Hill Reservoir. This covered reservoir sits at the highest point in Newton, and about 130 years ago it was built there to improve both water pressure and water quality in Newton’s municipal water system. Back then, the vistas from the top of that hill included Mt. Monadnock and Mt. Wachusett and were considered “the finest of all the suburbs of Boston” [King’s Handbook of Newton].
According to this history by the Newton Conservators, Newton sold the Waban Hill Reservoir in 1900 to the Metropolitan Water District, which used it for emergency backup until the 1970s, when the MWRA (successor to the Metropolitan Water District) determined that reservoir was no longer needed for emergency use and returned it to Newton for public open space, no longer fenced-in. Throughout this time, however, Newton has retained ownership of the lesser known, covered, and fenced-in Newton Reservoir, hidden in the woods at the top of the hill. Perhaps it’s kept available for emergency water use, but as far as I know, it connects only through the no-longer-used Waban Hill Reservoir, and the MWRA has since developed newer capacity for emergency water supply.
The Newton Reservoir is big: The overall parcel is 8.5 acres. Most of that is wooded (so the once-famous views from there are gone), but it has a fenced-in, mowed field of about 2.5 acres. (Hmmm… I think the City has been looking for a 2.5-acre site for NewCAL.) This field would be a great location for a solar farm, as it is owned by the City, has unobstructed sunlight, and is about 2.5 times the size of the solar farm destined for the Library parking lot. This reservoir is also big underground: 175’ x 125’ x 15’ deep, covered by 2.5’ of dirt and holding 10 million gallons of water in the dark. Here’s how it looked when it was under construction.