Archive for November, 2007

Since moving to his
home on Cambridge Tpke in 1974, Allan and Ellen Schmidt along with their seven
children have enjoyed walking into Concord’s Town Forest and to explore the
many trails along Brister’s Ridge and streams flowing into and cascading out of
Fairyland Pond.

The Cambridge Tpke
entrance to the Forest involves crossing a six-foot wide Mill Brook tributary
flowing along the west edge of Cambridge Turnpike.

Prior to 2004, this involved trying to find a log or other object to ease the crossing and keeping
one’s feet dry.  The observant hiker would find a steel rail laid across the ditch on which one could balance and
make safe passage, especially given a walking stick or nearby tree branch.

How that piece of rail came to be placed in that location is unknown but makes for interesting
speculation.  Harry Beyer, one of the
founders of the Bay Circuit Trail, and Walter Brain, a local authority
on Thoreau and the Town Forest, report seeing that rail as long as they can

Henry Thoreau frequently entered and exited the Town Forest
at this location in search of Clintonia Borealis as well as Brister’s Spring
and then Walden Pond.  Given that the
local railroad line from Boston was being constructed at approximately that
time, it is entirely reasonable to assume that various pieces of scrap rail were
readily available and could be put to practical uses such as fording a stream.

In 2004 the Concord DPW removed the piece of rail and
installed a wooden footbridge across the ditch to create a safe and convenient
crossing.  That rail may now be lost to posterity
or may be in the DPW junk pile.
Thoreau’s Trail is
a complementary trail to the Emerson/Thoreau Amble trail currently under
construction.  The Emerson/Thoreau Amble
trail will parallel the Mill Brook on its West side whereas the Thoreau Trail parallels
the Mill Brook on its east side.

Taken together they
will provide an intriguing circular loop for walking in Thoreau’s footsteps
beginning and ending at the Concord Museum/Emerson Home.

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