My Turn: Libertarians scout lost town trail with pledge to donate markers, cleanup

  • Project leader Charles Larkin, center, leads fellow members of the Libertarian Party of Worcester County in assessing need for historical markers and cleanup at sites of structural artifacts found along a trail culminating at Dana Common. Pictured flanking Larkin are Paul Lynch of Spencer and Ann Reed of Orange. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • A contingent from the Libertarian Party of Worcester County stands at the precipice of a cobblestone foundation, a relic of the Vaughn house at Dana Common. The group plans to donate markers and clear overgrowth along the trail from Gate 40 of the Quabbin Reservoir. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Published: 4/30/2021 11:12:07 AM

A contingent from the Libertarian Party of Worcester County, joined by a few family members, set out on foot from reservoir Gate 40 in Petersham, Saturday, with a mission.

The seven hikers from Athol, Orange and Spencer surveyed structural stone remnants located along the popular 1.5-mile trail, culminating at Dana Common, to assess two needs the group aims to help meet. The LPWC plans to arrange for installation of historical markers where lacking, and clearing of overgrowth that has crept its way onto the sites. Project leader Charles Larkin had researched the situation and has communicated with officials. Larkin reported Saturday that donation of professional grade materials for construction of markers has been pledged through another member; and volunteers would be enlisted to clear the overgrowth, according to plans.

The poignant remnants of Dana include stone walls, cellar holes and cemetery fence posts — reminders of an infamous case of human displacement. Dana was the largest of four “lost towns” whose residents were forced to vacate in 1938 to make way for formation of the Quabbin Reservoir to supply Greater Boston’s drinking water anew.

The LPWC effort to provide markers and tidying at the sites of the telltale artifacts aims to help preserve the memory of those for whom liberty was not allowed to prevail.

Libertarians espouse a philosophy of “self-ownership and nonaggression.” The porcupine — reputed to mind its own business yet possessing a sharpness for self-defense — is a symbol associated with that third-party.

On this idyllic spring day, blooming with flowers, the group engaged in another “libertarian” practice. They “peaceably assembled” to picnic and socialize. A pair of hiking passersby slowed to exchange pleasantries and alert them to a special point of interest noticed nearby — a large porcupine perched high in a tree.

The LPWC is an affiliate of the Massachusetts Libertarian Association (LAMA), which, in turn, is affiliated with the National Libertarian Party. This year marks the third-party’s 50th anniversary.

Ann Reed, a longtime freelance writer who resides in Orange, started out selling one-liners to late comedienne Joan Rivers.


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