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On May 16, 1874, in the hills of western Massachusetts, the Williamsburg reservoir dam broke, devastating a narrow valley lined with factories and farms and leaving 139 dead. At the time, it was the most deadly dam failure on record in the U.S. Amasa Jones, a Deerfield farmer, recorded the event in his diary, among the other entries of local deaths, accidents, and illness. His diary demonstrates that death and sickness among young people was much more prevalent in 1874 than today, but that the losses of individuals were no less mourned.