Chase Reservoir

Cat Hollow
Old Furnace
Wauregan Reservoir
Owen Bell

Town and State Parks

Chase Reservoir and Watershed Conservation Area

Directions:From Dayville, drive east on 101 towards Rhode Island. With the East Killingly sign on your right, turn left on Pratt Road. After 200 yards, Pratt Road turns left again and becomes a dirt road. You can park here and walk down Pratt Road, or you can continue down Pratt Road. There is parking at the boat portage area half a mile down the road on your left. Large boulders designate the portage area. There is one main trail that runs along the eastern edge of the reservoir and crosses Chestnut Hill Road at it runs into the northern part of the property. You can access this trail from the gate along Pratt Road or from the two gates on either side of Chestnut Hill Road.


View Larger Map

An overview of the Chase Reservoir

The Chase Reservoir and Watershed Conservation area is a 365-acre nature preserve in East Killingly. The preserve consists of an 80-acre lake and 285 acres of woodland, grassland, streams, swamps, and vernal pools. For about 80 years, starting in 1902, the lake served a s a source of water for the Borough of Danielson.

The property was donated to the Town of Killingly by the Crystal Water Company of Danielson in three parcels between 2002 and 2004. Grants of Conservation Restriction describe the property uses and restrictions. The purpose of these grants is to ensure that the property remains in its natural form and that it is used for conservation only. The preserve is protected open space to be enjoyed by the citizens of the Town of Killingly for passive recreation and education purposes.

Activities at the Chase Reservoir

The Chase Reservoir and the adjacent land are an important natural resource that the town is trying to protect for future generations. You are invited to walk on the property and enjoy the wonderful scenery, the plants and wildflowers that come and go with the seasons, and the abundant wildlife. The maps show where you can park and follow the trails. Please do not leave any trash on the site. Remember the adage "Leave only footprints; take only memories." Hiking, jogging, bird watching, and cross-country skiing are encouraged. Motorcycles, off-road vehicles, bicycles, and horses are not permitted. If you take your dog onto the property, please keep it on a leash. Hunting is not permitted. Report any illegal activities to the town or to the State Police.

Fishing is allowed from the shore and from non-motorized boats. Please make sure you do not leave any fishing line on the property. Canoes and kayaks are welcome to portage on to the reservoir at the site along Pratt Road. Motor boats--electric or gasoline--are not permitted. Swimming is not permitted. The dam at the southern end of the reservoir is not part of the Chase Reservoir property and still belongs to the Crystal Water Company. You are not allowed on the dam, which means that fishing from the dam and putting in boats from the dam is not permitted. The reservoir and the adjacent land are surrounded by private property. Please respect people's property rights.

 

History of the Chase Reservoir

Three hundred years ago the shallow valley now filled by the Chase Reservoir contained a small free-flowing brook.  Prior to the arrival of colonists from Massachusetts in the early 18th century, this area was inhabited by the Nipmuk Indians.  There are no known archeological remnants of the Native Americans on the Chase Reservoir tracts. 

Families surnamed Proctor, Robbins and Chandler were early settlers of English descent.  The 2400-acre Chestnut Hill Purchase was acquired by a Chandler around 1700.  This tract included much of which is now the Chase Reservoir property.  Soon after, Mr. Chandler began to sell portions of the large tract, and by 1711, sold all of it. Men from the Robbins and Proctor families were two of the buyers.  The foundation for a Robbins home site is still visible west of the reservoir near Pratt Road.  Proctor’s dwelling on the east side of the brook is now submerged by the reservoir. 

The death of these original inhabitants during the late 1750’s and 1760’s produced numerous changes in land ownership. Of these new landowners, the surname Chase appears very often.  Many members of the Chase family, originally from Rehoboth, Massachusetts, apparently took a liking to this part of Killingly.  By the time of the American Civil War there were many Chase families in the Pratt Road and Chestnut Hill Road area.  An 1869 map of Killingly indicates this very clearly.  Many of these Chase family members are buried in the Pettingill Road cemetery which bears their name.  The Chase family was so prolific in the area that it was the obvious name for the reservoir constructed in the early twentieth century.

Of additional historical interest was the transfer of part of the Proctor property to one of Proctor’s male slaves.  This transfer made the slave a Freeholder, perhaps one of the first non-white Freeholders in Connecticut and possibly in all of Southern New England.

Starting in the late eighteenth century and continuing into the nineteenth century, numerous mills were built along the Quinebaug River, the Five-Mile River, and the Whetstone Brook.  By 1880 after almost 100 years of textile industry activity, these streams were heavily polluted. As a result, there was a need for a clean drinking water supply for the mill workers in Danielson.  The Crystal Water Company of Danielson (CWCD) was incorporated in 1882. The company opened the spring-fed, 15-million gallon Hygeia Reservoir in 1886 and began piping water into Danielson.

The growth of Danielson meant that the water needs of the community soon exceeded the capacity of the Hygeia Reservoir.  The need to add capacity was the motivation for building the Chase Reservoir upstream from Hygeia.  The exact date that the Chase Reservoir was built is not known; however, CWCD documents indicate that the gate chamber was opened in April of 1902. It is therefore probable that the reservoir was created between 1900 and 1902.  The CWCD continued to purchase property adjacent to the reservoir in the 1930s and 1940s, and as late as 1974. 

Thereafter, and until 1982, the Chase Reservoir was used in conjunction with the Hygeia Reservoir to provide surface drinking water to the residents of Danielson and vicinity. Water was piped from the Chase Reservoir to Hygeia over a 75-foot vertical drop. Water from the Chase Reservoir spillway continues to this day to flow into the mill pond on Peeptoad Road, and from there via a small stream to Whetstone Brook.  As the Danielson community continued to grow, the CWCD supplemented the Chase/Hygeia water by digging three wells in Brooklyn.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the federal government’s Environment Protection Agency issued new national water purity standards.  Water from Chase/Hygeia Reservoir sources could not meet these stringent standards without the addition of an expensive filtering plant.   It became more economical to drill additional wells in the neighborhood of Danielson.  In 1982 the pipe from Chase Reservoir to Hygeia was cut, and both reservoirs were taken offline. In 1995 the CWCD received an abandonment permit for the Chase Reservoir from the health department.  After 80 years under the careful watch of the CWCD, the Chase Reservoir was no longer a source of drinking water for the people of Danielson.

The CWCD was owned and operated by the Hopkins family for many years until the late 1970’s; however in 1999; the company was bought by the Connecticut Water Service (CWS) Inc.  Today the CWCD operates as a wholly-owned subsidiary of CWS Inc.

With the Chase Reservoir property no longer viable as a water source, the 365-acre tract was donated to the Town of Killingly.  The gift was advantageous to CWCD after the Connecticut General Assembly passed the Open Space Trust Fund in 2000.  This legislation made it possible for CWCD to accrue a tax benefit if the donated land would remain in a natural and open condition for the conservation purpose for which it was acquired.  

The official and legal document describing each tract donated and defining the allowed and restricted activities within the open space boundaries is called a Grant of Conservation Restriction (GCR).  Separate GCR documents for each of the three tracts comprising Chase Reservoir’s 365 acres were written because each tract was donated in a different year.  The three GCRs for the property were granted to the Wyndham Land Trust, Inc.  Even though the Property is owned by the Town of Killingly, the land trust organization provides oversight to ensure compliance with the conservation restrictions as stipulated in the GCRs.   The GCR documents were developed using a DEP template to ensure conformity to the state legislation.

The Chase Reservoir acreage is protected open space dedicated passive recreation and education opportunities.  Restricted activities and permitted activities are clearly stated in this management plan, called the Chase Reservoir Management Plan.  The dedication of the transfer of all three land parcels between CWCD and the Town of Killingly occurred on November 12, 2004.

In the spring of 2012 Doug McGrady led plant exploration walks for the Rhode Island Wild Plant Society and the Connecticut Botanical Society on the Chase Reservoir property. You can view a list of the plants Doug discovered here.