FEDERATED WOMENS CLUB STATE FOREST
The Massachusetts Federation of Women's Club State Forest lies in Petersham and New Salem on Route 122. Its 984 acres stretch to the south and west in the watershed of the Quabbin Reservoir. Groves of pine and stands of maple, birch and hemlock invite the visitor along the wooded roads. The road along Fever Brook is outstanding for its scenery. A wildlife sanctuary compromising 140 acres has been set aside in the center of the forest, and a dam on Fever Brook holds back sufficient water to attract migrating and native wild fowl. In the southwest section is the forest's chief geological feature, the Gorge.
The Federated Women's Club State Forest is a historic recreational area located in central Massachusetts, specifically in the town of Petersham. Originally known as the Bay State Forest, it was established in 1914 as the first forest in the Massachusetts state park system.
The forest owes its existence to the efforts of the Massachusetts Federation of Women's Clubs (MFWC). The MFWC played a crucial role in advocating for the conservation and preservation of natural resources in the early 20th century. Under the leadership of influential women such as Eva A. Whitney and Susan Minns, the MFWC supported the establishment of a forest dedicated to environmental education and recreation.
The MFWC purchased a 116-acre property near Bare Hill Pond in 1914 from private landowners. The organization donated the land to the state of Massachusetts, for use as a state forest open to the public. This donation was the first of its kind in the state, paving the way for the establishment of other state parks and forests.
In 1916, the forest was officially renamed to the Federated Women's Club State Forest, in recognition of the MFWC's contribution. Over the years, the forest has expanded its boundaries through additional land acquisitions, and today it encompasses around 2,800 acres of protected land.
The Federated Women's Club State Forest offers various recreational opportunities for visitors, including hiking, camping, fishing, swimming, and picnicking. The park features several trails, such as the Tully Trail and the King Phillip Trail, which provide scenic views of the surrounding woodlands and water bodies. The main attraction of the forest is undoubtedly its tranquil and picturesque Bare Hill Pond, where visitors can enjoy boating and other water sports.
Throughout its history, the Federated Women's Club State Forest has remained an important example of grassroots conservation efforts initiated by women's organizations. Its establishment not only contributed to the preservation of natural resources but also became a symbol of the growing environmental movement in Massachusetts and the United States as a whole.