(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved. Contact us for information about using this image.
The coroner's inquest investigated the cause of the Mill River flood deaths. A jury of prominent men from Hampshire County called 42 witnesses, including the principals involved in the construction of the Williamsburg dam (which broke and caused the flood) as well as professional engineers knowledgeable in dam construction. The jury deliberated for several weeks and reached this verdict which assessed blame on all of the parties involved in the dam's design, construction, and operation. But the verdict's breadth was also its weakness; it spread the blame so thinly that it stuck to no one. There were no indictments and no civil suits. In 1874, the flood was the deadliest dam failure in the U.S.