Saville Dam is an earthen embankment dam with masonry work on the Farmington River’s eastern branch in southwestern Barkhamsted, Connecticut. The dam is 135 feet tall and 1,950 feet long, with an uncontrolled spillway on the western side. The earth embankment dam is visually appealing because it is built on a sweeping convex curve rather than a straight line. Furthermore, the upper gatehouse tower is architecturally pleasing, as it is referred to as a ‘castle’ or a ‘chapel.’ The dam contains the Barkhamsted Reservoir, which has a volume of 36.8 billion US gallons and serves as Hartford, Connecticut’s primary water source. The Barkhamsted Reservoir is the state’s largest drinking water reservoir.
The Metropolitan District Commission began purchasing land in the current footprint of the dam and reservoir in 1927. The dam’s construction began in 1936, while the land to the north was being cleared of lumber and buildings. The dam was finished in May 1940 at a total cost of $10 million for the dam and reservoir. Before the Metropolitan District Commission named the Saville Dam after its chief engineer, Caleb Mills Saville, in 1940, it was known as the Bill’s Brook Dam. This name was after a brook that ran nearby at the time. Although the Saville Dam was completed in 1940, the Barkhamsted Reservoir did not reach capacity until 1948.
Over the past years, Saville Dam has become one of the most photographed destinations in Litchfield Hills and Connecticut in general. The upper gatehouse is always a favorite of photographers. There is also a large grass area overlooking Lake McDonough (on the opposite side of Route 318) which is great for picnics and relaxing.
Looking for more great spots to explore in Connecticut? Check out the GoXplr Connecticut Map at goxplr.com/map/connecticut!