Sudbury Reservoir History Walk led by DCR Rangers – Saturday

Above: DCR Rangers will lead a special historic tour along a section of the Sudbury Reservoir in Southborough this Saturday morning. (image from Google Maps)

The Department of Conservation and Recreation is promoting a special walk in Southborough this weekend. The public is invited to come learn about the history of the reservoir that defines so much of our town’s landscape.

DCR rangers will lead a walk along the shores of the Sudbury Reservoir. Not to be confused with the Sudbury Reservoir Trail – the guided walk will be on the unpaved fire road on the eastern shoreline of the Reservoir.

Rangers will talk about the history of the reservoir while exploring old roads, stone walls, and cellar holes of former house sites.

The program is an overview of the the reservoir’s role in the metropolitan water supply history. It includes historic pictures and a short walk to look at old house foundations learn what the area looked like prior to and during the construction of the Reservoir. Walkers will also see some of the historic structures associated with the water works infrastructure.

Rangers advise sturdy footwear and dressing for the possibility of encountering insects/ticks. Given DCR’s rules for recreation along Boston’s water supply – I’d expect dogs to be prohibited.

DCR gate at Clemmons and Nichols streetsThe walk is scheduled for this Saturday, September 15th at 9:00 am. The group will meet at the yellow-pipe DCR gate at the corner of Clemmons Street and Nichols Street. (Click here for map or image right to view the gate).

Parking will be allowed on the street near the gate. But DCR warns that space is limited, so carpooling is encouraged.

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3 years ago

Do we know how long the walk is?

Donna McDaniel
3 years ago

GO!!!! Used to be we

Could walk as we pleased but no more so this is rare.chance!
ESPECIALLY if you are not aware there,s a beaufiful 100 ft.Dam built.mainly by Italian stone workers who had quarters in what became Fayville…and also first generation of some names still known in town!
My favorite dam story is that the Metrpolitan Water Commission needed more water So needed to supplement nearby reservoirs in Ashland and Framingham but why.such a growing need?
Well, it seems that flush toilets had just become popular features in.Boston homes and
SO we can celebrate THAT invention as we enjoy the various vistas way out here!,!

Allan Bezanson
3 years ago

There are interesting stories galore about the Sudbury Reservoir. Here is a comment about Frederick P Stearns, Chief Engineer of the Metropolitan Water Supply System.

A hallmark of Stearns’ work in Massachusetts was his concern for the aesthetics as well as the technology of the Metropolitan Water Supply System. The Boston Evening Transcript noted this characteristic by saying Stearns “combined in rare degree both
scientific attainment and a love of the beautiful, as the result of which his achievements adorned as well as served in a utilitarian sense the communities for which he worked” Having worked with Charles Eliot, of the firm Olmsted, Olmsted & Eliot, on the Charles River improvement studies in the 1880s, Stearns remembered that experience and built upon it as Chief Engineer for the Metropolitan Water Board As a result, landscaping was a prominent feature of reservoirs built under Stearns, in particular Weston Reservoir and Spot Pond, and of the complex of structures at Wachusett Dam. Stearns’ contributions were eloquently summarized by the American Society of Civil Engineers, of which he was at one time, president, as “at . . . their construction probably the most noteworthy series of waterworks structures in the United States; foremost not altogether in size, but in perfection of detail and the embodiment of the best practice in hydraulic engineering from reservoir to pumping station” .

Stearns’ reputation as an engineer was perhaps most prominently highlighted in his
selection to a 13-member international commission of engineers for
the Panama Canal, which functioned in an advisory capacity on that
project. The north dike at Wachusett Reservoir, designed by Hiram
Miller under Stearns’ guidance, was of particular interest to the
commission, which made a special trip to the reservoir in November
1905 to discuss its unusual construction methods and to view the results thereof

The dam at Deerfoot road is the junction of the Wachusett Aqueduct and Sudbury Reservoir and you can find the plans for the dam and adjacent bridge, signed by Stearns, at

Visit the Waterworks Museum in Chestnut Hill for more of the back story on why Southborough gave up 2,000 acres for the thirsty city of Boston.

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