Everyone knows the Charles River and the Neponset River, but have you ever heard of the Mother Brook? It is Americas first industrial canal, built by Puritan settlers in the earliest days of Massachusetts Bay Colony, and vital to the development of Dorchester, Hyde Park, and Dedham. Plus, by connecting the rivers on either side, it turns the landmass occupied by Newton, Brookline, and most of Boston into an island!
- A 1900 historical sketch of the Mother Brook that we used a lot in preparing this episode.
- An 1827 history of Dedham, that we also drew from heavily.
- The header image above is taken from the 1915 Boston Daily Globe.
- The New England Chronology mentions the famine in 1630.
- Archaeology at Boston’s tidal mill pond during the Big Dig.
- Bostons windmill is hit by lightning.
- The 1723 Bonner map of Boston shows a windmill atop Copp’s Hill in the North End.
- Dorchester orders Israel Stoughton to build a gristmill in 1634.
- The owners of mills on the Charles and the Mother Brook sue each other.
- The Hyde Park Historical Record discusses the process by which Dedham Low Plains became Readville in Hyde Park.
- An optimistic 1967 recreation plan for swimming, canoeing, and hiking on the Mother Brook in Readville.
A driving tour of the Mother Brook, starting at the floodgate along the Charles, and then visiting the 2nd, 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th dam privileges.
Featured Historic Site
For this weeks episode, we featured the Baker Chocolate factory at Dorchester Lower Mills. It opened in 1764 on the site of the original 1634 water powered gristmill in Dorchester that was the first in New England. The chocolate factory operated in the same location along the Neponset River for 201 years, closing in 1965. Today, you can take a self guided walking tour of the factory grounds, see the dam and some exposed machinery, and take in all the historic mill buildings around Lower Mills. To get there, we recommend taking the Mattapan High Speed Line, which runs original Pullman PCC streetcars built in the 1960s.
On January 4, Historic Beverly is hosting a reception for the opening of their new exhibit of early photographs and photographic techniques. Called “In Pictures, the Photographic Sensation,” it focuses on the rapid growth of photography during the Victorian era. The event is free, but the hosts ask that you RSVP by January 2. From their website:
Join us for the opening reception for In Pictures: the Photography Sensation. Discover the sensationalism of photography in the Victorian era through photographs from the collection of Historic Beverly. Explore ambrotypes, carte-de-visites, cabinet cards, daguerreotypes, stereoscopes and tin types that not only show the growth in popularity of photography at the time but also connects Beverly to an artistic medium that we rely so heavily on today with our smartphones cameras and Instagram.