Monday, August 25, 2008

Middlesex Fells Reservation, Mass.

Spot Pond
South and Main Sts.
Stoneham, Mass. 02180

The Middlesex Fells Reservation covers some 2,575 acres of publicly owned land, mostly forested, filled with hiking trails, ponds and open fields. Spot Pond, which is a 340 acre secondary water reservoir in the MWRA system and the Stone Zoo, both in Stoneham, make-up part of the Reservation. In addition to Stoneham, the Fells Reservation encompasses parts of Medford, Melrose, Malden and Winchester. Route 93 and Route 28, the Fellsway, split up the Reservation.

Originally this whole area was part Charlestown, but over time this rocky forested land (from which it derives its Anglo-Saxon name Fells) was subdivided. Mills were built in the area and farmers staked out their holdings. Mining operations were conducted and diabase, which is used for gravel, was removed . In 1725 the Town of Stoneham was incorporated and in 1850 Winchester and Melrose were also incorporated. Medford established its own claims in the Fells area and a small section lies in Malden.

Farming continued in some areas of the Fells through the 1700's until well into the late 19th century. Farming ended in 1894 when the Metropolitan Parks Commission (MPC) took over the land and created the Fells Reservation. The MPC was created through the efforts of the Appalachian Mountain Club, the Trustees of Reservations and private citizens.

In 1919 the MPC was taken over by the Metropolitan District Commision. In addition to its park holdings the MDC was responsible for water and sewage, managed zoos, beaches, skating rinks and had its own police force. Over time the MDC was broken up. In 1970 a separate Parks and Recreation Division was created.The MDC police was merged with the State Police and the MWRA in 1984 became the new water and sewer authority.

The Middlesex Fells Reservation is now operated by the Mass. Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). It is assisted in its efforts by The Friends of the Middlesex Fells Reservation, a private non-profit group dedicated to preserving the Middlesex Fells area in its natural state.

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