Archive for March 2011

LIFE in Dedham

March 30, 2011

One of the stories listed in this table of contents from the May 26, 1952 edition of Life magazine is about a group of Dedham residents. The article and accompanying photographs made minor celebrities of the group for a while, and you can read all about in my next post…

Dedham Town Forest Part 3

March 27, 2011

WARNING! If you go into the Town Forest, do a very thorough TICK CHECK when you come out. I found one of the little buggers clinging to my stomach the day after my adventure. I went to the doctor and I’m taking all the precautions one should to prevent Lyme disease, but what an annoying ending to an otherwise enjoyable day.
So here are some of the interesting features of the Town Forest:

Stone Walls
Plenty of meandering stone walls, indicating that this land was once farmed, perhaps as far back as the 1700’s. More research into who once owned the land to come.

An Access Road

This gravel access road runs from the northbound lanes of 128 to the southbound lanes. It is gated, but the gates were open, so I suppose some foolhardy motorist could actually pull in here from the fast lane of 128.

Large Rock formations

These rock formations explain why the area is referred to on old maps as “Ye Rockes.” It also explains why 128 had to be routed around the area, creating this large forested island in the middle of the highway.

A weird stage/altar/picnic table/foundation thing

Your guess is as good as mine. Any theories?

The remains of an exercise trail
In 1977, fellow DHS senior John MacDonald set up an exercise course in the forest for his Eagle Scout project. Several of the signs can still be found nailed to trees; a little rusty, some with bullet holes, others bent to interesting angles.

Despite its unusual location, I think the Dedham Town Forest is a great place for people to hike and explore. Perhaps another prospective Eagle Scout could take it on as a project- establishing trails, promoting its existence, and, if possible, wiping out the tick population!

Dedham Town Forest Part 2

March 21, 2011

© Damianos Photography
Here I am entering the town forest. Yes, that is Route 128 North to my right; the southbound lane is to my left just out of view. So that means… the town forest is on the median strip?

Yes it is. The gate I am entering is located on the newly reconstructed Washington Street overpass, across from Mary Hartigan’s…etc. The land was taken by the state in the 1950’s when Rte. 128 was built. In 1972, State Representative Charlie McGowan completed legislation that deeded the land back to the town. He hoped that trails would be developed on the property and that residents would use it for hiking and picnicking.
My feeling is that it never really caught on as a recreational area, and my friend Jim believes that some people found a more nefarious use for the isolated spot (see comment on yesterday’s post).

The fence runs about a thousand feet down a narrow corridor, and the land then opens up into a much wider woods. Even with the trees still bare, once you are inside the woods you don’t really see the highway; but you can certainly hear it. Check out the satellite view on Google maps (which does label it as the Dedham Town Forest). It really is a pretty big piece of land, extending all the way to Rte 109. So the next time someone tells you to “go play in traffic,” you’ll know where to go.

Next post: What I found in the Town Forest, and what found me…

Happy Spring!

March 20, 2011

Today I celebrated the Vernal Equinox by hiking in the Dedham Town Forest for a few hours. This 71 acre woods has rolling hills, old stone walls, vernal pools, rocky outcrops and a meandering stream. It is located in the most unlikely of places; you probably drive by it all the time and don’t even realize it’s there. DO YOU KNOW HOW TO GET TO THE DEDHAM TOWN FOREST? More details to follow…

Dedham, 1895

March 19, 2011

This is a very cool photograph, taken from the top of the court-house on High Street, looking east. Many of the buildings in this view are long gone, such as Memorial Hall and the train station, both built of Dedham granite quarried nearby. Sticking out of the trees in the background just right of center is the water tower that stood on Walnut St. until recently.

St. Mary’s Church is quite an imposing structure, seen in the back left. The large white building to the left of the church was the estate of Thomas Barrows, who once ran the operations of the Norfolk Manufacturing Company at the Stone Mill in East Dedham. The Barrows home was torn down in 1959 and became the large St. Mary’s parking lot. The stone wall that once bordered the estate (also made of Dedham granite) can still be seen along High St.

Zoom in on the photo and see what other interesting things you can find; you might find yourself lost in old Shiretown for hours!