New England News Releases

USACE hosts open house August 1 in Oxford, Mass., for Hodges Village Dam Master Plan revision
7/5/2024 UPDATED
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District will host an open house August 1, 2024, in Oxford, Mass., to kick off a process to revise the 1976 Hodges Village Dam Master Plan for the Hodges...
USACE hosts open house July 31 in Monson, Mass., for Conant Brook Dam Master Plan revision
7/5/2024 UPDATED
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District will host an open house July 31, 2024, in Monson, Mass., to kick off a process to revise the 1998 Conant Brook Dam Master Plan for the Conant...
USACE hosts open house July 30 in Uxbridge, Mass., for West Hill Dam Master Plan revision
7/5/2024 UPDATED
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District will host an open house July 30, 2024, in Uxbridge, Mass., to kick off a process to revise the 2011 West Hill Dam Master Plan for the West Hill...

Top Rotator

Local bird watchers descended upon West Hill Dam armed with pen, paper and a few binoculars to participate in West Hill Dam’s annual Backyard Bird Count.
Construction of the System Management Engineering Facility (SMEF), the 40,000 square foot, 2-story addition, is well underway and progressing rapidly.
For vessels wanting to enter Plymouth waters, dredging to remove shoals from the Plymouth Harbor federal navigation project in Massachusetts is currently underway and on schedule.

News From Around the Corps

Risk and reward: An innovative strategy pays off
6/11/2024
The toughest problems require the most creative solutions. Being willing to think outside the box to find the answers can feel risky, but often the rewards are great. This is something the U.S. Army...
Mobile District hosts Water Manager for a Day event
6/27/2024
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District, Water Management Division hosted stakeholders from the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) River Basin for a Water Manager for a Day course on...
Omaha District partners with WOZU group to plant native vegetation near Standing Rock bike trails
5/30/2024
A team from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District’s Oahe Project traveled to Cannon Ball, North Dakota May 16 to participate in a planting project with the WOZU group that will incorporate...

Feature Stories

West Thompson Lake celebrates 50 years with ceremony, displays and tours

USACE, New England
Published Nov. 2, 2015
The New England District Ranger Color Guard begins the celebration by posting the colors on October 3, 2015.

The New England District Ranger Color Guard begins the celebration by posting the colors on October 3, 2015.

A ceremonial tree planting took place immediately after the speeches during the Northfield Brook 50th Anniversary Celebration, October 3, 2015.

A ceremonial tree planting took place immediately after the speeches during the Northfield Brook 50th Anniversary Celebration, October 3, 2015.

Fifty years ago, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, completed the West Thompson Lake Dam to keep the citizens of Connecticut safe from devastating floods. 

On Oct. 3, residents traveled to the project to commemorate its construction and to celebrate the faithful service it has provided.

Project Manager Ed Greenough served as Master of Ceremonies for the West Thompson Dam celebration.  Nearly 200 people braved the cold temperatures and cloudy skies to be a part of the event.

Father Edward Dempsey gave the invocation at the beginning of the ceremony.  Father Dempsey has a close association with West Thompson Dam as his late father John Dempsey was Governor of Connecticut and was present at the dam’s original dedication.

Col. Christopher Barron, New England District Commander, spoke during the official ceremony.  “In August 1955, Hurricane Diane blew across Long Island Sound and hit the southern New England shore,” he said.  “The countryside had already been soaked by an earlier storm when the hurricane dumped another 12-20 inches of rain.  Streams gushed and rivers jumped their banks, washing away bridges, roads, homes and businesses.”

According to Col. Barron, 90 people lost their lives and more than $540 million worth of damage was done.  In August of that year, President Eisenhower declared much of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island disaster areas.

Construction of West Thompson Dam, which is located on the Quinebaug River began in 1963 and was completed in October 1965 at a cost of $7 million.  “What you see out there is what we call an earth-fill dam with slope protection,” said Col. Barron.  “It is 70-feet-high and almost half a mile long. The lake can store over 8 billion gallons of water for flood risk management.”

As of the beginning of October 2015, the dam has prevented more than $56.4 million in flood damages.

 Although flood risk management is West Thompson’s number one mission, the project area also serves as an excellent recreation resource.  More than 96,000 visitors annually take advantage of the swimming, picnicking, fishing, hunting, boating and snowmobiling.

“The reservoir also contributes to the health of the surrounding communities through a variety of recreational and educational interpretive programs,” said Col. Barron.  “Families, friendships and social values are strengthened, public safety is increased and the local economy is supported.  We have been proud to be part of that for the last 50 years.”

Other speakers included Col. Gerald Lukowski, Connecticut Air Reserve National Guard and Thompson First Selectman Paul Lensky.  The New England District Ranger Color Guard  (Jason Robinson, Steven Patchkofsky, Jennifer Samela and Matt Coleman) presented and retired the colors.  Joy Lavalle sang the National Anthem.   A cake cutting ceremony followed the speeches. 

West Thompson Lake and its partners had a multitude of displays and activities on hand for the celebration.  Historical and cultural exhibits were sponsored by the Aspinock Historical Society, Thompson Historical Society, the Thompson Ecumenical Empowerment Group, Thompson Recreation Department, Connecticut Outboard Association, Boy Scout Troop 66, and Marianapolis Prep School Crew Team.  The Last Green Valley sponsored an Envirospace Interactive Display.  The New England District hosted a furs and skulls touch table as well as dam tours throughout the morning and into the afternoon.

The West Thompson Lake project is one of 35 dams across New England which is part of an intricate flood risk management network that includes 112 local protection projects and five hurricane barriers.  “Many of these projects were authorized and built after catastrophic floods in the 1930’s and 1950’s,” said Col. Barron.  “Our engineers and rangers do an excellent job in managing this complex system and reducing flood risk to people and property throughout New England and have turned an investment of roughly $538 million over the last 60-70 years into prevention of flood damages exceeding $6.5 billion."

Basin Manager Adam Durando, Park Manager Ed Greenough, Park Rangers Jason Robinson, Catherine St. Andre, Michelle Cucchi, and others from around the District participated and/or organized the West Thompson Lake event.


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