Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Millers River - Only a Remnant Survives

One of the areas of Boston Harbor that once held oysters was the Millers River that lied between Boston and Charlestown. The laws regarding filling were once much more liberal than they are today and basically any non-navigable waterway was easily filled. Thus, the area was filled for the Charlestown Prison and rail yards. It is now occupied by the Northpoint Development, Community College and the lovely park across from the Science Museum. There is plans for a bridge on the North side of the Charles to allow pedestrians to cross from the Charlestown side over the river and railroad tracks to reach that park.

Along the river at one time was a slaughterhouse who emptied its offal into the river. The stench and health effects were so bad that they led to the enactment of Chapter 91 of the Massachusetts general laws. Chapter 91 gives the Commonwealth the power to regulate uses of tidal waterways and is a keystone for protecting our coastal areas..

A small forlorn remnant of the River remains and can be seen in these photos taken from the on-ramp to 93 South. It is surrounded by Boston Sand and Gravel, on-ramps and T-tracks.  Unfortunately, the river can no longer support oysters as it is above the dam and all fresh water.  It makes for an interesting Kayak trip.

On the left you can see Boston Sand and Gravel.

This photo shows that some effort has been made to beautify the edges.

Harvard University has a nice 1777 map of the area, which labels it Willis Creek. Recently, I have heard that the filling of this lowland has affected drainage of areas as far North as Somerville. Given the area of drainage that once flowed through it, this is not surprising.

This view looks South to where the Miller's River joins the Charles.

There is a lovely cantilevered walkway on the North side. Sadly it is not used and has a bit of detritus, but with the opening of a pedestrian bridge that connects Paul Revere Park and North Point Park there will be pedestrian traffic making it cleaner and safer.

This photo and the one below show the abutments for the bridge. 

Along the walkways they have marked the depth of water before the area was filled. the numbers replicate the font written on the old chart. There also are a few marker plaques that are a bit dusty , but with strong content. They trace the filling in of the area and its industrial history.

Massive Potato sheds once lined the railroad tracks accepting shipments from Maine to feed the city. They are memorialized here in a monument which incorrectly dates their burning as the 1930's. They went up in 1962 and people in Charlestown smelled bake potatoes for weeks. When the author planted potatoes in his community garden plot in the late 1990's a number of the older gardeners enjoyed a good laugh. "Imagine that growing potatoes in Charlestown!"

No comments:

Post a Comment