THE MOST TERRIBLE DISASTER KNOWN IN HAMPSHIRE COUNTY
One of the most appalling disasters that ever inflicted any community visited the villages of Williamsburg, Haydenville and Leeds, last Saturday afternoon. At about 7 o'clock that morning, the dam at the "Williamsburg Reservoir" gave way, letting an immense body of water down upon the above-named villages, sweeping away dams, bridges, houses, factories, trees, and every living thing in its course….
…The extent of the disaster is such that the mind can hardly comprehend it. Such a frightful loss of life. Such a tremendous devastation of property. So sudden – so complete – so overwhelming – one cannot grasp it. With scarcely a moment's warning – in some cases with no warning at all – almost within a twinkling of an eye, all this deluge of woe, and sorrow, and destruction, was precipitated on these communities…
…The news of the disaster spread over the surrounding country like wildfire, creating the greatest excitement. Before noon, Saturday, though it was raining hard, people began to arrive. Every available team was put in requisition. Teams could pass only as far up as the Williamsburg depot, and only from Haydenville with great difficulty, on account of the almost complete destruction of the roads and adjoining fields.
On Sunday, the weather being pleasant, people came in by thousands. From all the adjoining territory for forty miles around there came one continuous stream of people. Lumber wagons, buggies, carriages, express wagons, everything in the shape of conveyance, were brought out, and a multitude which could not be numbered nor correctly estimated, crowded the entire route of the disaster. Springfield, Holyoke and other distant places sent up hundreds and thousands of people. …probably thirty thousand people visited the town of Williamsburg on Sunday.
Hampshire Gazette, May 19, 1874.