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Bedford Town Trail Walk Saturday November 2 at 9:45 am to Wilson Mill Park and Burlington Landlocked Forest, Led by Mark Levine and Sharon McDonald, Town Historian
November 2, 2019 @ 8:45 am - 12:00 pmFree
Have you ever heard of the Wilson Mill? The corn it ground was vital to the town three hundred years ago… Alas, it is long gone! But the millpond remains, and the little stream still rushes over the rocks down a shallow gorge. It has become a Bedford town park located on Old Burlington Road just yards from where Route 62 goes under Route 3. Come and stand beside the water and listen for a few minutes while Town Historian Sharon McDonald recounts stories about the old Wilson Mill.We will then explore the Wilson Mill Park, the Burlington Landlocked Forest, and (depending on the group and conditions) Bedford’s Old Rez Conservation Area. The walk will be about 5 miles, and last approximately 3 hours.
When and We meet at 9:45 AM at the parking lot behind the Bedford Free Public Library
Where: (7 Mudge Way). Alternatively, you can meet us at Wilson Mill Park (see https://goo.gl/maps/hfcDqXdQnjk or map at Contact website below). Park at Wilson Mill parking lot or along Old Burlington Road. Please allow time to sign a waiver if you have not already done so.
Leader: Sharon McDonald, Town Historian, and Mark Levine, Bedford Trails Committee
Note: Our hike is at a moderate pace, with relatively hilly terrain and some steep slopes. Please wear comfortable, closed toe, walking shoes that can handle wet, snow or ice. Children and well-behaved dogs are welcome. Rain cancels. In any case, it may be wet and slippery, or snowy or icy, so be prepared for these conditions.
Contact: Please check the Bedford Trails Google Groups page for weather-related changes and info on current and future trail walks: https://groups.google.com/group/bedfordma-trails
If you already have a Google account, click “Join Group to Post”
If you don’t have a Google account, please send an email to BedfordMA.firstname.lastname@example.org you’ll be added to the Group.
As stated in “Wilson Mill Site,” see: https://www.bedfordma.gov/conservation-commission/pages/wilson-mill-site:
“The Wilson Mill site on Vine Brook is an important historical landmark. Lt. John Wilson built a corn mill on this site in 1685 which then included 30 acres for grinding “corne” with revolving stones. This business was later carried on by the Gleason and Blodget families. In 1840, a paper mill was established on the site for manufacturing coarse paper. The paper mill was destroyed by fire, but the foundation of the old mill is still clearly visible at the bridge over Vine Brook. Old Burlington Road (the precursor to Route 62) was laid out as a direct consequence of the mill. During the incorporation of Bedford in 1729, there were extensive negotiations with Billerica to decide whether this important industrial resource would become part of Bedford or remain in Billerica. The mill pond, created by damming Vine Brook, is one of the few open bodies of water in Bedford.
The two historic mill parcels abut Vine Brook on the downstream side of the spillways. An additional parcel between Burlington Road and the Vine Brook mill pond is managed by the Conservation Commission.”
As stated in “History of Wilson Mill,” see: https://www.wilsonmillpark.org/history.htm:
“. . . in 1683 the citizens of Billerica voted in favor of the construction of a road to John Wilson’s grist mill on Vine Brook. This is the earliest record of the presence of a mill at this site.
By 1839 a cider mill had been added near the other mills which were still in operation though they had passed through various owners. In the days before town water and sewer systems when people depended on their own cisterns and wells, cider was an important commodity. When the wells were low, or subject to contamination from livestock and stagnation, beverages such as beer and cider were safer to drink than water. Johnny Appleseed, that colorful American folk hero, is remembered because of cider, not table fruit.
. . . In 1840 a paper mill was built on Vine Brook, replacing a gristmill. The paper mill thrived, and was a major source of employment until it burned in 1846. After the fire, the town’s population fell by a tenth.
The increasing economic importance of railroads in the late nineteenth century is reflected in Bedford in the shifting of the town’s industrial center from the mills to Depot Square in the late 1870’s. There was still a saw mill at Vine Brook in 1889, however, possibly connected to the Bedford Lumber and Manufacturing Company located in Depot Square. ”