Nature around Boston (and the rest of Mass)


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Aug 16, 2013
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With the virus keeping me away from race tracks, I've been going with the wife and kid to various Audubon and Trustees properties across the state, and especially metro Boston. I've posted a few pics on here in various threads already, but here are some that don't really fit in anywhere else. I'm not a nature guy by any stretch, but there's some pretty amazing stuff shockingly close to the city.

This first post isn't anywhere near the city but definitely has architectural merit - Tyringham Cobble and Ashintully Gardens/the Titus mansion ruins out in the Berkshires.


Lucky for you guys I just sorted through a few years of photos with the extra time..

A few places in Andover:

The Vale Reservation is right off the Ballardvale stop. The entrance is at the end of the parking lot. Any time of day, any season, you'll probably see something.


I've chased a number of blue herons and other birds in here.




For part of the reservation, you walk along the Shawsheen River as it runs along Pomps Pond, which sits about 5 feet higher than the river. Kind of interesting to walk along it. Pomps also has walking trails, a private Girls Scout Camp, and a beach primarily for children (membership or payment required), though its less kept up compared to everything else on this list to me. Still a nice hike.

Winter a few years ago:

Goldsmith Woodlands is a fairly long hike with several 'points' around Foster Pond in Andover. Some nice sights, buggy in summer.

A foggy shot from last March:

A personal favorite: Baker's Meadow Pond - a great spot (especially if you're into migrating ducks)





2 days ago:

Final Andover spot: The Cochran Wildlife Sanctuary, a large preservation behind Phillips Andover that was protected to provide students a space away from the campus. The rationale behind the space was beautifully put. I'll try to find the discussions of the architects/planners for the sanctuary. In the end, they found high school boys were not interested in walking around a forest, but it remains in place today. I don't have pictures, but there is a log cabin still in use today for larger functions. It was originally intended to be a hangout spot and dining hall for students during their free time.


Remnants of what (if I recall correctly) was once intended to be a clubhouse spot for the Phillips students. I think it then became a maintenance storage building, and now sits in its current state:


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The typical/cliche trip out west to The Berkshires is certainly worth it.






On the way out there, you may pass Oxbow Wildlife Refuge. I haven't made it out there in the fall but I presume it is beautiful. I've only been in the winter and spring.



Of course, Deer Island is nice too, if you haven't been/looking for something closer. Parking is tough though.

Obligatory Middlesex Fells:


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Lastly for now, and not in Massachusetts, but there's a (private) rail yard with streetcars of every kind in a small town in PA. I may make a separate thread for this one if there's interest:
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That thing was the brainchild of some guy who thought he'd be able to make a mint restoring the cars and running a trolley museum, then quickly realized he had gotten in way over his head on the resource commitment required. Quite obviously none of the bodies out in the woods are in any salvageable shape anymore, and it requires trespassing on private property and a considerable amount of danger to go sightseeing there. But it is real, and no one's fined the owner yet for storing refuse illegally so they'll probably stay out there until the cars are literally no more than piles of rusted aluminum flakes.

The abandoned narrow gauge steam locomotives in the woods of Maine are another crypto-foamer pilgrammage site, albeit one waaaaaaaaaay far out in the sticks of north-central Maine. That one at least is semi-maintained as an exhibit site with safe access. From a logging RR that only operated for 6 short years 90+ years ago before the Depression killed it. The locos were stored mothballed in the most remote possible location away from any vandals to await possible reactivation under improved economic conditions that never came, and were ultimately left isolated when the river trestle that accessed the track collapsed in a flood severing the disused rail line, leading to its formal abandonment post-WWII and pull-up of all track for scrap. After that final act by the RR people simply forgot they were out there, save for a few Maine forest service employees. It eventually took on legend from long-distance snowmobiliers in-the-know who traveled the very remote ROW. Then its location leaked onto an early dial-up Internet railfan messageboard in the early-90's and the foamers started making pilgrimmages out there in large numbers. State caught wind of the anomalously sharp uptick in woodland trail activity and went in about 25 years ago to manicure the site and strip the interiors of the locos of any remaining hazardous material so they could be a standing display. Other than superficial coat of rust they're remarkably well-preserved for 87 years of sitting in place and 60+ years of being considered 'lost' by humankind.
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it requires trespassing on private property and a considerable amount of danger to go sightseeing there. But it is real, and no one's fined the owner yet for storing refuse illegally so they'll probably stay out there until the cars are literally no more than piles of rusted aluminum flakes.

You can contact the owner for a tour of the property (he gladly accepts whatever date/time you give), though most people just trespass..
Ponkapoag Pond is one mile away from 128 in Canton and you would think you are in rural New Hampshire. It's a nice quiet pond and there are cottages you can rent
Tufts professor eats "weeds" around Medford/Somerville campus
Old Sturbridge Village this morning.


This heron was chilling under a little wooden bridge on the pasture walk and scared the ever loving bejeezus out of us when it flew out. Luckily I was quick enough to catch it.

Cooks Brook Beach in Eastham this morning. Just missing some penguins,
Solar eclipse viewing crack of dawn this A.M. @ Memorial Tower, D.W. Field Park, Brockton. Used my Boston Public Library freebie eclipse viewing glasses from 2017 as a makeshift camera filter. High clouds hugging the horizon were not real cooperative, but got a couple decent shots of the crescent sun and the lighting effects at eclipse maximum were definitely kinda weird to behold. Pics taken 5:35-5:45am from 2-12 mins. after peak (eclipse finished quickly...was all over by 6:15).


^closest-to-peak shot. Annotated box highlights the top 'horn' of the crescent peeking through the tops of trees and the cloud passing in front. Sun was about 70% covered at peak.


^shot through the filter, about 7 mins after peak when the clouds cleared a bit. About 50-60% covered. Shot is perfectly clear; that's residual cloud cover you see there.

^same exact shot as prior, without filter, seconds later. Note how dark the trees are despite the sun angle...there's some shutter adjustment here, but not that much. The lighting levels seemed to be running 45 minutes slower than the sun position because of the eclipse.


^Memorial Tower. Should note the whole left side of the building is bathed in sun right here as it was "milky-clear" by this point, but notice you don't any rays landing on it in the pic. You see some *very weak* rays hitting the tree at right midway up. Pics don't do justice to how much stranger the lighting was vs. normal.
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