Sunday, November 25, 2012

Crouching Barn, Hidden Mill

From Dave Brigham:

Ever since I discovered the remnants of a torn-down house in my hometown 15 months ago (see September 20, 2011, "In Search of President Little"), I find myself looking at patches of woods wherever I go and wondering what archeological wonders are buried there, perhaps never to be discovered.

Even when I go on excursions to places that I know I can learn more about later by researching online, I always think, "What else is hidden around here that's been forgotten?"

Sometimes I have the opposite problem: I know that a site contains a certain element that I want to explore and take pictures of, and I can't find it. This happened to me recently.

I set out toward the former Fernald School in Waltham, motivated in part by a comment at this blog about a post about an abandoned factory in the Watch City (see February 27, 2011, "UPDATE: What a Dump").

Long story, short: Fernald is still in operation, albeit in a limited capacity. As such, there are people around and I stopped at the bottom of the driveway and decided against snooping around. I'm not an urbex guy, mostly for the reason that it wouldn't look good if my two kids were waiting at school for me to pick them up and saw me ride by in the back of a police car, having been arrested for trespassing.

Here's what other people have documented from the site.

After leaving Fernald, I doubled back and looked through the woods at an old house or barn. I took the next left turn I could, and *snap* just like that, I was pulling into the parking lot for the Beaver Brook Reservation in Belmont.

I looked at the map at the beginning of the small network of trails, and saw two words that got my heart beating a little faster: "mill remains." Yes, I know that's pretty nerdy, but obviously if you're reading this blog, you share my desire to discover hidden pieces of the past.

I set out first to snap some pictures of the building I'd seen from the road. I found it without any trouble and took a few shots:

Handyside Barn Barn door Hay loft door

Then I set out on a few other trails, but couldn't find any mill remains. I went back to the map, consulted with a fellow visitor and hit the trail again. Still, no luck.

I took a third look at the map and finally got a pretty good idea of where to look. But evidently the site where mill once stood was overgrown and there wasn't much to see anyway. I looked and looked in the underbrush, but couldn't see any evidence of a structure or ruins. The mill in question was a fulling mill, in which wooden hammers are employed to clean cloth.

Here's somebody's else's write-up about their own effort to find the mills (apparently there were a few on site from the 1600's to 1800's).

Maybe I'll go back this winter once the leaves have fallen and see if I can get a better look.

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