Ames Nowell State Park (Abington, MA)

Date Of Visit: April 7, 2019

Location: 781 Linwood St., Abington, MA (30 minutes south of Boston, MA or 1 hour northeast of Providence, RI)

Hours: Open daily dawn until dusk

Cost: Free

Parking: Free parking  for about 50 or more cars

Trail Size/Difficulty: 700 acres/Easy to moderate

Handicapped Accessible: Yes, the main trails are handicapped accessible

Dog Friendly: Yes

Website: Ames Nowell State Park Website

Trail Map: Ames Nowell Trail Map

Restroom facilities: Yes

Highlights: pond, wildlife, scenic, fishing, running trails, paths for dirt bikes and cycling, picnic tables, ball fields, grills, horseback riding, canoeing, kayaking, cross country skiing and snowshoeing during the winter

Tips:

  • the park was hard to find by GPS – try looking for Presidential Dr and hook up to Linwood that way
  • The trail is not a loop – when you get to the boardwalk on the main trail turn back and backtrack to the beginning of the trail

Summary: Ames Nowell has activities for the entire family.  From the scenic views, fishing spots, pavilions and sporting activities, Ames Nowell has a variety of ways to enjoy the park.  The main trail is handicapped accessible and the park is dog friendly.

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Named after the grandson of Oliver Ames, the 35th governor of Massachusetts (1887-1890), Ames Nowell was purchased during the the Great Depression when the previous land owner could not afford the taxes for the land. It is now a haven for hikers, fishing enthusiasts (bass and pickerel are said to be abundant there) and anyone else who enjoys being out in nature.

Proving that it is indeed a hidden treasure, I had a hard time finding Ames Nowell.  The best way to get there is to punch Presidential Dr in your GPS and follow it on to Linwood Rd.

When you do finally arrive at Ames Nowell, your best bet is to go to the left and follow the trail that way.  That is the path that leads to the major attractions.  I went in both directions (left and right) on the main path and following the trail to the right only led me on a short, very muddy trail.  The trail ends at the residential homes that act as boundaries for the park.  I was able to take a few photos and there are some pretty views.  But, it’s not worth traveling on it unless you’re just looking to add some mileage to your hike.

The jewel of the park is Cleveland Pond.  The trail follows the side of the pond.  Fishing and non motorized boating are allowed at and in the pond.

The trails at Ames Nowell are graded as moderate.  I would consider them more on the easy level, especially if you stay on the main trails.  There are boardwalks, bridges and other man made structures to walk on during your travels.

Of course, I did not stay on the main trails.  That is the best way to capture the beauty of Ames Nowell after all.

There are a wide variety of birds at Ames Nowell.  Hawks, kestrels, cardinals and woodpeckers are just a few of the many types of waterfowl and birds present at the park.

Birds aren’t the only animals you’ll find at Ames Nowell.  Deer, fox, coyotes and other four legged animals are said to roam there.  I didn’t see any of them during my visit.  But, I did see mt first garter snake of the year.

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While the trails are mostly well defined and the website for the park recommends visitors stay on the main trails, I took many of my photographs off the main trail.  In fact, if you take any of the side trails near the end of the trail by the boardwalk you will find yourself in a huge field with paths for dirtbikes and ATVs.  It also where I was able to photograph the kestrel show above in the group of bird photos.  There are also side trails off this open field that have vernal pools.

Ames Nowell is dog friendly and there were many dogs at the park during my visit.  Kea was one of the cute dogs I saw at the park.  Kea, whose name is of Hawaiian origin that means “white”, is a 10 year old Westie.

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For those of you still waiting for spring, I did see a hopeful sign of spring!

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Bare Cove Park (Hingham, MA)

Date Of Visit: March 30, 2019

Location: Bare Cove Drive, Hingham, MA

Cost: Free

Hours: Daily, sunrise to sunset

Parking: There are 2 parking lots.  The larger parking lot located at Bare Cove Drive has room for about 100 cars.  There is also a smaller parking lot off Beal St

Trail Size/Difficulty: 484 acres, easy

Handicapped Accessible: Yes, there are paved trails but the side trails may not be accessible to all

Dog Friendly: Yes (see website for rules for taking dogs to the park)

Highlights: wildlife, birds, nature, lake, easy trails, cycling, running, scenic, museum

Website: Bare Cove Park

Map of Park: Bare Cove Park Map

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Once the site of a ammunition depot, Bare Cove Park is now a 484 acre park full of wildlife, scenic views and trails for running, cycling or just walking.

There is a variety of birds and other wildlife at the park.  Foxes, coyotes and even deer have been reportedly seen at the park.  So, do keep this in mind if you do bring your dog.  I didn’t see any aforementioned animals at the park.  But, I did see a diverse group of birds there.

Granted, I did have to go off the beaten paths to view some of these birds, particularly the hawks and kestrel.  But, you should see lots of cardinals, blue jays, sparrows and other smaller birds in your travels, even on the main trails.

The main trails are paved and wise in most parts.  So there is lots of room for cyclists, runners and people walking with their dogs.

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One of the many great things about Bare Cove is that it is beautiful all year.  You might think that it wouldn’t be very pretty during the early spring time.  You’d be wrong!  But, seriously, the natural colors and the trees are majestic.  Even the multi colored ones. Alt If you are looking to see plants and flowers and other colorful views I do recommend visiting in the mid to late spring, summer or, of course, fall.

One of the hidden historical aspects of the park is its military past.  The area was used to produce and distribute munitions and other military devices. Until 1971, military goods were produced here.

In an effort to commemorate the service of the people who worked at these depots, there is a small museum with exhibits, photos, military tools and other gadgets that were made at the depot.

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There is also a viewing area to watch videos and DVDs about the history of the depot and how Weymouth and Hingham, MA contributed to the war effort.

There are two monuments outside of the museum.

One of the monuments is dedicated to all of the workers who helped the war efforts.

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The next memorial is dedicated to the workers who lost their lives when a ship they were unloading, the USS FY 415, exploded and sank on May 11, 1944, when signal rockets caught fire.

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Another interesting part of the area near the museum is that the posts which the bots tied onto when they originally unloaded their munitions at the depot are located in front of the museum.

There is also a fire museum nearby.  During my visit, a fire truck from the museum was on display at the park.

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But, the hidden history doesn’t end there.  A sign posted on Bare Cove Path indicates that an Almshouse (called “Town Farm”) used to be there.

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In short, almshouses were a place for the indigent or those who could not care for themselves.  To find out more about Almshouse, you can refer to my previous blog post about Almshouses.

With its winding trails and access to water, Bare Cove Park is a great place to take your dog.

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Kevin, a 2 year old Boston Terrier, posed for me during his walk around the park.

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Cooper, a 9 year old Golden Retriever, played fetch in the water during his visit.

 

Hidden History – Almshouse (Hingham, MA)

Date Of Visit: March 30, 2019

Location: Bare Cove Park, 45 Bare Cove Dr, Hingham, MA

Summary: Bare Cove Park was once home to one of the first charitable groups in the colonies and states.  “Town Farm” at Bare Cove was one of the many almshouses in the states.

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New England has a long history of helping others.  One of the ways the people of New England have reached out to help others is with the creation of Almshouses..  In Christian tradition, alms are money or services donated to support the poor and indigent.

In short, Almshouses were charitable housing units designed to help the indigent, particularly widows, the elderly and those unable to pay their rent.  They were maintained by a community or charitable group.  Originally, they were attached to churches and other religious groups.  They were later adopted by local officials and governing bodies.

Although they have a short history in the colonies and states, they have a much longer history in Europe.  In fact, Almshouses are a tradition that was brought over from England.  The first recorded almshouse is said to have been built in 1132 at the Hospital of Saint Cross in Winchester, England. It is still in existence today.

The almshouse in Hingham, MA, (“Town Farm”) which once stood in the area in the photograph below was built  in 1832 and it lasted just over 100 years. It was the third almshouse in the city.  Although the sign doesn’t say specifically where the almshouse was, it was in this general area.  Trees, a few condos just out of view behind the trees and access roads now stand where the almshouse once stood.  This sign, where the defunct almshouse once stood, is located on Bare Cove Path at Bare Cove Park.

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Almshouses in the colonies and states were not just a product of Hingham, MA, though.  In fact, almshouses were abundant throughout the colonies and United States way before Hingham erected “Town Farm.”

The first almshouse in the United States was founded in Boston, Massachusetts in 1622. The original Almshouse was burned down in 1682. When they decided to rebuild it they chose a different location.  But, these alhouses also dotted the Northeast in such places as Pennsylvania.

However, almshouses weren’t just used for altruistic purposes.  In addition to providing a needed home for the poor, mentally ill and physically impaired, the homes were also used by some as a place to drop off vagrants, criminals and addicts.  This made some of the almshouses unsafe.  Allegations of neglect and unsanitary conditions were also rampant at some of the homes.

By the late 1800s and part of the 1900s, almshouses were largely gone.  This was in part because the Social Security Act prohibited federally aided old-age assistance to residents of public institutions.  This was because the creation Social Security was thought to make these types of homes unnecessary.  Little did they realize how healthcare costs would sky rocket in the ensuing years.  The prohibition of legally funded almshouses also paved the way for privatized elderly care homes.

 

North River Wildlife Sanctuary (Marshfield, MA)

Dates Of Visits: March 16 & 17, 2019

Location: 200 Main St., Marshfield, MA

Hours: Open daily dawn til dusk (office is open Mon-Fri, 9:00-4:00)

Cost: Free for members, Nonmembers: $4 Adults, $3 Seniors (65+), $3 Children (2-12)

Parking: There is free parking for about 30 to 40 cars

Trail Size/Difficulty: 225 acres, 5 miles of trails (universally accessible: 0.5-mile loop)/ Easy.  See website for additional information.

Handicapped Accessible: The Fern Sensory Trail is universally accessible.  But the other trails are not handicapped accessible.

Dog Friendly: No, MASS Audubon trails are not dog friendly

Website: North River Wildlife Sanctuary

Map: North River Wildlife Sanctuary Trail Map

Highlights: wildlife, wide variety of birds, observation deck, sensory trail

Summary: Easy trails, a variety of wildlife and birds (with one special bird), boardwalks and an observation deck are just some of the features of this park

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It’s not everyday that you see an eagle.  At least not in the suburbs of Massachusetts.  But, that’s exactly what happened during a visit to one of the hidden New England treasures in Marshfield, MA.

In trurgh, Marshfield is home to a lot of different wildlife.  You may find beavers in some of the rivers and ponds.  There are coyotes, wolves and deer in the area.  But, eagles are a different matter.

While I was walking along the River Loop Trail, a .5 miles trail that loops around the field across Summer St, I noticed a very large bird soaring above the treetops.  I froze at first, not believing what I had seen.  A Bald Eagle, not a common bird in these parts, was indeed flying above me. It’s unusual to see birds like this in Marshfield.  Later during my visit, one of the workers at the Audubon informed me that an eagle had a nest in that area.

There are a variety of other birds at the sanctuary such as cardinals, blue jays, red winged blackbirds and chickadees.

I have to make a confession though.  I sort of cheated.  There are bird feeders located in front of the office which made it easier to photograph some of these birds.  But, I was able to photograph a lot of the birds on the trails.

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The trails are fairly easy to negotiate.  In fact, the only issue I had walking on them had more to do with the time of the year I visited.  The temperatures had risen melting much of the snow which created mud puddles, then froze over making it it a little icy.  But, this should not be an issue now.

The first trail at the sanctuary is the Sensory Trail.  There are educational exhibits along the trail such as a display that shows examples of needles and bark.  Visitors can touch the display and see the difference between the two materials.  There is an exhibit that shows the lifecycle of a butterfly along the trail.  The sanctuary also has solar panels which they use for energy.  There are boardwalks along the trail as the area is rather marshy.  Unfortunately, I could not access all of the trails on the Sensory Trail due to the flooded and muddy nature of the trail.

There is one tricky part to accessing the other trails at North River Wildlife Sanctuary.  To access the observation deck and the other trails that lead up to it, you must first cross Summer St (see attached link to the ap of the sanctuary for more details).  It can be a busy road depending on when you visit.  Do use caution while crossing the street.

Once you cross Summer Street, you will see a field with a nesting area, which I don’t usually see birds using, and a trail that loops around the area.  You can also view the aptly named North River from the top of the area.

If you’re lucky, you may see a few chipmunks and red squirrels along the Red Maple Loop which is accessible off the main trail (the River Loop trail).

The most popular attraction (besides the eagles) is the observation deck off the again aptly named North River View trail.  The observation deck offers pretty views of the North River and the surrounding Marshfield neighborhood.

As I was leaving the sanctuary I did see one hopeful sign.  Spring is indeed springing!

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Similar Places I Have Visited:

Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary (Marshfield, MA)

Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary (Topsfield, MA)

The Point (Salem, MA)

Date Of Visit: February 2, 2019

Location: The Point, Salem, MA

Cost: Free

Parking: Street parking is available in the area and the closest parking garage is at 10 Congress St

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Summary: Rich in history and art, The Point neighborhood is one of the less noticed areas of Salem, MA.

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Salem isn’t just about witches and ghost tours.

Cackling witches, costumed partiers and other tourists flock to the downtown historical Salem area every Halloween.  But, they often drive or walk past one of the more interesting parts of Salem.

The interesting thing about The Point, besides its history and the street art that is scattered throughout the neighborhood, is that is a mere half a mile (give or take) south of the bustling Essex Street and other commercial areas of Salem.

Located off Congress St, The Point encompasses mostly Peabody and Ward Streets.  It is a short walk or drive from the intersection of Congress and Hawthorne streets.  One landmark to look for is Shetland Industrial Park.  You can easily spot the area of Congress St by the murals that are visible from the street.

But, The Point area wasn’t always known for street art.  Once the main area for fish drying along the peninsula, The Point was the center for Salem’s early maritime business and played a critical role in the economic development of the area.  These wooden fish drying “stages” gave the area its original name of Stage Point. Once the peninsula was filled in, the mostly French-Canadian mill workers adopted the name “La Pointe” for the area.

The Point would later become a hub for leather and shoe workshops in the early 19th century, The Point utilized its proximity to the harbor to take in imports such as coal and cotton.  One of the chief companies in this trade was a company founded by several Salem merchants called the Naumkeag Steam Cotton Company (there’s that name again – see previous Facebook post if you’re scratching your head right now).

As the area attracted more and more immigrant workers to the growing industries, boarding houses and company owned tenements (with modest rents I’m sure) were built to accommodate the growing population.

Sadly, the area would be destroyed by the “Great Fire of 1914” which destroyed 1,376 buildings and made over 18,000 people homeless or jobless.  Naumkeag Steam Cotton Company remained there, though.  At least until a wildcat strike in 1933 which highlighted the tensions between management and the workers.

Eventually, the Naumkeag business began to move their production to South Carolina in the 1940s and the company closed in 1953.  I’ve always found it interesting how the demographics of the various areas in New England (and the country) shift with the changing business landscapes.  As the Naumkeag company began to close mills, the French-Canadian people began to migrate.  In their place, new immigrants, chiefly from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.  This diverse community exists largely in the area.  The name of the area changed yet again to “El Punto.”

Murals and street art are spread throughout the “El Punto” area.  One of the first works of art you may notice is this mural on the side of a business.

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From the Congress St entrance to The Point, there are two streets.  Most of the art is on these two streets.  On Peabody Street there is a series of works of art along a fence created by artists in the area.  Unfortunately, the shadows were a little tough to work around and I was working on a tight schedule so I wouldn’t wait for better light.  This is a prime example of why mid day light is one of the worst times to photograph, although it is a common time for people to go out and photograph because you can’t always shoot during the blue or golden hours.  So, you work around the elements.  Luckily, I did have some cloud cover for some of the shoot which helped.  Also, the streets are very busy with traffic, so do take care if you go and parking is tight on this street.  I love how many of the murals look like art you might see in a museum or in a book.

I had to take some of the photos from unusual angles due to the parked cars on the streets and because of the areas where some of the murals were located.  For instance, this work of art of a woman with a chicken was located at the corner of a building which didn’t have a wide enough walkway to photograph from.  There were actually many murals on the buildings on Peabody and Ward streets.

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There were several spots on the buildings like this.

These murals on the apartment buildings in the aea and businesses were easier to photograph from the street.  I especially like the art that has a three dimensional feel to them.

The murals are not just on Peabody and Ward streets though.  In fact, you have to hunt for a few of the street art (some of which may technically not be in The Point area).

These works of art were located in an alleyway off Lafayette St.  There were lights strung up between the buildings in this alley.  I can only imagine they look even prettier, and are more fun to photograph, during the evening hours.  Mental note, come back for some evening photography another time.

And this lone mural was located on an unnamed (or at least there wasn’t a sign for the street) adjacent to Ward St.  Sometimes I wonder how annoying it must be for people who live in these buildings or in the area to have people stop by to take photographs.  But, I will also mention how on my many excursions to this area I have never been bothered.  People are both friendly and, I assume, used to seeing people in their neighborhood taking photos.  Naturally, I do try to be respectful and not spend too much time taking shots.  Despite the good nature of the people there I can’t help but feel like an intruder of sorts.

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The Point is not just a place for art, though.  There is also a park at The Point, logically called Peabody Street Park (15 Peabody Street).  The park has trees, benches, a jungle gym and some pretty views from the Salem Harbor Walk.

There are also ceramic works of art from that appear to have been made by children that line the walls in the park.

Birdhouses are placed in some of the trees at the park.

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There is also a mural from the downtown Salem area across the river which is visible from the Salem Harbor Walk.

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This mural is on a business located on Derby St not far from the Point.  It shows just how close the busy tourist area is to the largely unnoticed Point area.

With its beautiful works of art, pretty views and charm, The Point is definitely one of New England’s hidden gems.

Similar Places I Have Visited:

Cat Alley (Manchester, NH)

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Hidden History – Naumkeag (Salem, MA)

Date Of Visit: February 2, 2019

Location: Salem, MA (formerly Naumkeag)

Summary: The area now known as Salem, MA, was once known for so much more than the venue of the witch hysteria.

Although much is made of the Salem witch trials, there is much more to Salem’s history than this dark spot on the city’s past.

Long before Roger Conant settled in what is now Salem, MA, in the 1620s, the Naumkeag tribe had settled in what is now considered Essex County, comprising essentially the northeast corner of MA.  Although the area originally kept the name Naumkeag, the settlers would decide to change the name.  Naumkeag would eventually become known by its current name of Salem, a name derived from the Hebrew word for peace.

What is interesting is Salem is not the only area which bears the name Naumkeag.  Some areas of western Massachusetts, specifically an estate in Stockbridge bears this name.  If it is named after the same tribe that would be quite a distance to travel (well over 100 miles).  It’s not clear if the same tribe once lived there.  But, it’s more likely the name was derived from the Algonkian name for “fish” which I will touch on later in this post.

Salem keeps ties to the Naumkeag name with some businesses bearing the name and this building on Essex St that some people may never have noticed also bears the name of the area.  Most prominently, the building houses the liquor store Pamplemousse (185 Essex St) in addition to other shops.

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The name is not listed prominently.  So it could be easy to miss.  But, if you look up you can’t miss it.

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The name Naumkeag is most likely derived from the Algonkian root “Namas” meaning “fish.”  As the waterways of Salem were once plentiful with fish and fish was such a major food source this is a logical conclusion. In fact, after a quick search of restaurants in Salem it is evident it still relies on fish and other seafood for its economy.

The native Naumkeag was settled some 4,000 years ago as a seasonal fishing settlement.  Eventually, it became part of  a colonial settlement, as was the case with many former Native American settlements.  Roger Conant would settle that area and a much larger area in 1629.  Now, it is a mere footprint on a city which is rich in many aspects of American history.  In fact, it is plausible to write more hidden histories on Salem as it has played an essential role in many historical events other than the witch trials.  And it all started in a place called Naumkeag.

So, the next time you’re shopping on Essex St or photographing the Halloween revelers, take a look up and note that you’re actually at Naumkeag Block.

 

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Herb Mackey’s Metal Sculpture Yard (Salem, MA)

Date Of Visit: February 2, 2019

Location: 10 Blaney St, Salem, MA

Hours: The garden is able to be viewed any day at any time

Cost: Free

Parking: There is parking located at the Salem Wharf (just punch in the address above) and there is street parking available nearby

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Summary: A metal garden of sculptures, figures and other objects located at a home in Salem, MA.

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While there are many gardens in Salem. MA, the Herb Mackey Sculpture Garden located by the Salem Wharf is unlike any other garden you’ve ever seen.

You won’t find roses, tulips or daisies at this garden.  But, the garden is environmentally friendly.  Mackey makes all of his sculptures from recycled and reused materials.

If you’re lucky to show up when there people outside working you may get a tour of the garden.  I arrived too early for any tour.  And, if you do see Herb Mackey or any of his other workers during your visit you may be able to take a metal souvenir home, for a small fee.

Mackey doesn’t consider himself an “artist” though.  He is just having fun and his works are just a hobby.  A fun hobby at that.  You may not see his work in the local Peabody Essex Museum.  But, if you do make a detour from the commercially successful downtown area and make your way to Mackey’s Metal Garden you may see some more interesting art than you would at any museum.