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Tracing cycles of time


Westville 'Walktober' tour retraces a now-submerged past



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Park ranger Glenna Vitello, points to vintage photographs as she tells the history of the Westville Dam and recreation area, during Walking Weekend. Shawn Kelley. (click for larger version)
October 25, 2009
SOUTHBRIDGE — It's an open park of trees, grass and water now, but some older people still remember when Westville was a thriving mill neighborhood.

Last week, Army Corps of Engineers Ranger Glenna Vitello opened the curtain of history on that neighborhood for a little while, giving a group of about a dozen mostly-non-Southbridgians one of the Last Green Valley's "Walktober" tours.

"In chronological time, different areas have had two or three different lives Ö different purposes over time," she said.

A case in point is the area that is today a grassy field on which children play near the riverbend. The only reminders that it once held nine houses is the sealed well, a hint of the former road along the river, and the slightly rugged terrain.

"When you fill in cellar holes, the ground is never perfect and golf-course-looking," she observed.

Of course, in some parts of the park, there was no effort to fill in the holes, leaving the foundations of workers' lodging homes overgrown with fairly young trees and bushes.

See Tuesday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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