About the Sites
What sites are on the Trail?
Eight sites originating during the Colonial and Industrial eras may be accessed from the northerly side of the Trail. On the southerly side, several groupings of ceremonial structures of Indian provenance still exist. A swath of wooded uplands sacred to the Native Americans originally ranged from present-day Lincoln in the southeast, to Littleton—where Sarah Doublet of the Nashoba Praying Village lived during the 17th century up to the Revolutionary War with her small extended family—in the northwest. Though many portions of this ceremonial landscape have now succumbed to development, the area in North Acton’s conservation lands is largely intact.
The sites created and left by Colonial and Industrial era landowners are all located in portions of this sacred landscape, along the brook. Acquired from the local Indians by the Massachusetts Bay Council and then distributed by lot through the agency of the Towne of Concord, these lands in the early years of European ascendancy were most likely still shared to some extent with the Indians, who did not understand the English concept of land ownership.
These sites are, starting from the upstream portion of the Nashoba Brook:
· The rock outcrop where the roof slabs for the Stone Chamber are believed to have been quarried
· The Robbins Mill Pond dam
· The 1730s Thomas Wheeler, Jr. grist and sawmills, together with their associated canal and sluiceways
· The Thomas Wheeler Farm, where oxen to move the mills’ raw materials and products were maintained
· The northerly terminus of the Old Road to Concord
· The Nashoba Brook Stone Chamber
· The blacksmith shop foundation belonging to Moses Woods, a Revolutionary War veteran
· The Industrial period Pencil Factory, belonging to Ebenezer Wood
Scattered throughout the wooded upland on the south side of the brook, which has never been developed, are many Native American stone structures, some very subtle and others more obvious. These include several types of stone piles; walls that seem to go nowhere, or form shapes that do not seem compatible with the needs of European farmers, such as turtle effigies, portals to the underworld, and a snake effigy; at least one stone-lined spring; and other subtle stone constructions of significance unknown to Western peoples. The stone piles occur in clusters, some with associated stone rows or semi-walled enclosures. Close to the Spring Hill Road entrance is an array of stone cairns, also thought to be of Indian provenance.
From these assemblages of stone structures, several clusters of stone piles, each with different structural characteristics, have been chosen to be cleared and signed with informational panels to demonstrate the variety and subtlety of the remaining Indian culture’s artifacts in this area.
Which sites have been restored?
Nashoba Brook Stone Chamber Beginning in 2006, this site was the subject of a complete archaeological survey—including test pits—and masonry reconstruction of collapsed walls and roof slabs. This structure’s companion, a loosely-built stone foundation believed to be the remains of an historical blacksmith shop, was restored the following year. Landscaping has been completed, the access trail slightly re-routed, and an informational panel installed. Access is from Milldam Road, or the yellow loop trail where marked with the TTT logo metal plaques.
Thomas Wheeler Farm In the summer of 2008, similar restoration work was begun on this site, located at the end of Wheeler Lane, in North Acton. A surface archaeological survey was carried out. The masonry foundation of the homestead was restored, and the original well was protected with a grating. Handicapped accessible trails have been installed, picnic tables have been set in two shady locations, and benches have been placed to allow relaxed enjoyment of the pleasant vistas over the brook and the substantial masonry of the mills.
Other remains of the farmstead include the parallel droving-corridor walls, a loading ramp, and animal pens, as well as two barn foundations that have been incorporated into the contiguous residential neighborhood. Stone remains of slightly terraced areas, possibly used for a kitchen, and medicinal and herb gardens, are evident.
The parking lot has been relocated, now equipped with stone barriers, and a period-design gate installed. Much landscaping has been finished, with the planting of bulbs and period perennials. Many trees have been cut in order to enhance the views without destroying the shady park-like feeling of the farmstead portion of the site. Establishment of a wildflower garden is in progress. An informational panel will be installed during the 2013 season.
Plantain Stone Pile Cluster On the southerly slope of the brook’s bank, the first of several planned stone pile sites has been cleared of brush and excess trees for easier observation. Most stone pile sites are currently obscured by the dense woodland in which they lie. An informational panel will be erected during the 2013 season to direct attention to the archaeological features of this site.
Stone Cairn Array This site, close to the entrance to Spring Hill Conservation Land, has been cleared of brush and downed trees. It will be marked with green arrows during 2013. No restoration or historical research has been done here.
Which sites are currently being restored or enhanced?
Robbins Mill Pond Dam and Mills In the summer of 2011, restoration was begun on the dam and mills adjacent to the Thomas Wheeler Farm site. Historical research has shown that this two-mill complex was part of the original Wheeler Farm and operated by the same Thomas Wheeler, Jr. Some reconstruction of sluices and wheel housings has been completed, together with the foundations of two small buildings whose purpose is unknown. A derelict hunting lodge, built by a mid-20th-century owner, has been taken down, and the remnant foundation will be used to support an observation platform. Restoration continues at this site.
The Pencil Factory site, where there currently exists a four-sided kiosk, may eventually be restored.
The stone outcrop thought to have been the Quarry for the Stone Chamber’s eight two-ton roof slabs will be connected to the main TTT trail now that the Robbins Conservation Land, which is contiguous to the Nashoba Brook land has been deeded to the Town. An informational panel will eventually be erected there.
The northerly terminus of the Old Road to Concord will be marked with an informational panel during the 2013 season.
Additional Indian Stone Pile Cluster sites, representing different construction styles, will be cleared of brush and furnished with informational panels and green-signed access paths in the next year or two.
Last Updated: 05/09/2014 12:41