Archive for June, 2009

Brister Freeman Trails Map-Concord Town Forest

 The location of Brister Freeman’s Home-site and Brister’s
Spring are shown by name within the lower left quadrant of the attached Town
Forest map that may be helpful in trail navigation.

Town Forest Trail Map

 Brister Freeman’s Home-site Trail

Difficulty: rocky, steep in places on south end.

Highlight: cellar hole and ditching hill fences at

 From the Parking Lot, walk the Red Dot trail south
parallel to Walden St.

From Walden Woods Project, walk the red dot trail north
parallel to Walden St.

 Brister’s Spring (a.k.a. Brister
Freeman’s Spring) Trail

Difficulty: rocky, steep in places on south end.

Highlight: Stump of white pine tree adjacent to Spring
and mentioned by Thoreau.

From the Parking Lot, walk the Yellow Dot Trail east to SE corner of
Fairyland Pond and junction with Red Dot trail. Walk Red Dot trail south to
Brister’s  Spring.

From Walden Woods Project, walk Yellow Dot Trail west to
junction with Red Dot trail then walk north to Spring.

Enjoy but Please do not disturb these historic sites and

At some point it is hoped that it will be possible to design and construct a Brister
Freeman home-site sign (ala existing Brister’s Spring sign) plus a “bench by
the side of the trail” as suggested by Elise Lemire when speaking of Toni Morrison
in her outstanding new book, “Black Walden.


 “This book should be required reading for every Concord
and Lincoln resident!!!”

 For more information about Brister’s Spring and the Brister
Freeman home-site see my blog: http://allanhschmidt1935.spaces.live.com/


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In 1847, when returning from work in his bean field, Thoreau
immortalized Brister’s Spring as one of the Mill Brook’s origins and a reliable
source of cool drinking water that also provided shade of a white pine tree.

“Commonly I rested an hour
or two in the shade at noon, after planting, and ate my lunch, and read a
little by a spring which was

the source of a swamp and of a brook, oozing from
under   Brister’s
Hill, half a mile from my field.”


“The approach to this was
through a succession of descending grassy hollows, full of young pitch pines,
into a larger wood

about the swamp. 
There, in a very secluded and shaded spot, under a spreading white pine,
there was yet a clean, firm sward to

sit on.” “I had dug out the spring
and made a well of clear gray water,where I could dip up a pailful without roiling it,
and thither I went

for this purpose almost every day in midsummer, when the
pond was warmest.”

In 1906 Gleason photographed Brister’s Spring including the
white pine tree referred to by Thoreau.


Brister’s Spring by Gleason B&W 7”x9.5”. N.d. Written in
pencil on verso: “commonly I rested an hour or two in the shade at noon.”

   My photograph of Thoreau’s Brister’s Spring in 2007.

 During his visits to Brister’s Spring Walter Brain has
pointed out the presence of what appears to be Thoreau’s white pine tree stump

that also appear in my 2007 Brister’s Spring photo.

 In addition Walter Brain has identified 50 underground
spring sites similar to Brister’s Spring in the vicinity of Walden Pond.

 In 2005 I hypothesized that Walden Pond is an underground source
of Brister’s Spring.

 Thoreau expressed a curiosity about Walden Pond’s in-flows
and out-flows.

 “As for the inlet or outlet of Walden, I have not
discovered any but rain and snow and evaporation, though perhaps, with a
thermometer and a line, such places may be found, for where the water flows
into the pond it will probably be coldest in summer and warmest in winter. When
the ice-men were at work here in ’46-7, the cakes sent to the shore were one
day rejected by those who were stacking them up there, not being thick enough
to lie side by side with the rest; and the cutters thus discovered that the ice
over a small space was two or three inches thinner than elsewhere, which made
them think that there was an inlet there. They also showed me in another place
what they thought was a ‘leach-hole,’ through which the pond leaked out under a
hill into a neighboring meadow, pushing me out on a cake of ice to see it. It
was a small cavity under ten feet of water; but I think that I can warrant the
pond not to need soldering till they find a worse leak than that. One has
suggested, that if such a ‘leach-hole’ should be found, its connection with the
meadow, if any existed, might be proved by conveying some, colored powder or
sawdust to the mouth of the hole, and then putting a strainer over the spring
in the meadow, which would catch some of the particles carried through by the
current.” 3

 In 2009 Concord’s Mill Brook Task Force (a subcommittee of
the Natural Resource Commission) commemorated Brister’s Spring with a wooden
site marker.

 Today Brister’s Spring and Thoreau’s white pine tree stump
are accessible on the Red Dot Trail in Concord’s Hapgood Wright Town

The new Brister’s Spring wood marker is located to the right
of the spring as viewed from the trail.

 Please do not disturb this historic site.


 As part of today’s (06/13/2009) walk we stopped the home site of Brister Freeman (1755-1822)

immortalized by Henry Thoreau and recently recognized in a book Black Walden

see: http://www.kouroo.info/kouroo/transclusions/18/35/1835_HistoryOfConcord/BristerFreeman.pdf


on the Red Dot trail leading from the Main Walden Street entry.

A map showing that site is attached.


1 Brute Neighbors, Walden edited
by Lyndon Shanley, Princeton University Press, 1971: 227-228

            2: http://www.walden.org/institute/thoreau/about2/images/Gleason_H/Gleason_TS%20Prints/box03_82L.JPG


            3. The Pond in Winter, Walden
edited by Lyndon Shanley, Princeton University Press, 1971: 292



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