The path has led you through the woods to the old concrete trout pools next to the meadow. The water in these pools supports many kinds of aquatic vegetation. Examples include duckweed and cattails – thick, tall growth of broad, pointed leaves with tubular brown seed heads. And look for watercress. It forms a thick growth on the water’s surface.
Nature loves a wetland, and tends to fill it with the vigorous, thick growth that you can see all around this old fish hatchery area. But try to imagine this area being wide open, with grass that is mowed like a park (see the included picture!). That’s what this area looked like when the fish hatchery was here.
Let’s take a moment to recall some history:
Throughout the 1800s the mill pond, stream, and salt marsh creeks were well known for their abundance of trout. The Nye family rented the grounds out for well-to-do businessmen from the city to fish, always assured of a heavy catch. By 1900 there was interest in raising trout here, growing them in a series of wood-lined rectangular pools fed by the cold pond water. The earliest hatchery here specialized in raising fingerlings – small fish that were sold for restocking private fish preserves. In 1912, the Massachusetts Commission on Fish and Game purchased the hatchery to raise trout for restocking public ponds. After the hatchery was abandoned in 1990, it quickly filled with pussy willows and other vegetation, some of which you can still see today.
Let’s step out into the meadow and up to the old grist mill. The meadow can be quite soggy, so please watch your step and try to stay in the middle of the field.