Monday, April 21, 2008

New Stuff Available

There's a new Stony Brook Reservation Resource Management Plan available online here. It's not particularly relevant to the historical Stony brook, but it can't hurt to link to it here. There are maps in pdf format on the right side of the page that can be downloaded and viewed.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Read Me - Bottom to Top

Since this site is in typical blog form, the entries run from bottom to top. For some entries, like the old newspaper articles, it doesn't matter which you read first. For others, however, there is a sequence to be followed. If you read an entry, and it refers to something you don't understand, it's probably found in an earlier post. In any case, feel free to poke around at your convenience. If you have any questions, email me and I'll get back to you.

One Way to Solve a Problem

Here's an interesting nugget from 1876: there was consideration given to diverting some of the water from Stony Brook to the Neponset River. Presumably, they would have cut from the east end of today's Stony Brook Reservation over to Mother Brook at River Street in Readville. The two aren't much more than a stone's throw from each other, so it would have been an easy task. There are no further mentions of the idea in the archives.

Boston Globe November 2, 1876

Stony Brook

The Board of Street Commissioners of the City of Boston, having been requested in an order of the Board of Aldermen to thoroughly examine and report to them upon the improvement of the valley of the Stony Brook, with an approximate estimate of the cost such improvement, and as to the amount of betterment to be realized by assessment upon or agreement with the owners of the lands benefited thereby: and also in the expediency of diverting a portion of the water from the brook by the way of Hyde Park or Mattapan to the Neponset River, give notice hereby of a hearing of all persons interested in this subject to be had at the Commissioner's rooms at City Hall, on Friday, the 3d of November, at 11 o'clock in the forenoon.

By order of the Board of Street Commissioners.

Newton Talbot, Chairman.


Meehan street, between Williams street and Rossmore road 2007.

Amory street, 2007

Since I've figured out how to link to off-site pictures, I decided to add more pics. I was running out of space, so I was limiting my photos for a while. The top picture shows Meehan Street, which runs diagonally between Williams Street and Rossmore Road. Along the road on the left you see a patch of grass and then a parking area. Why no houses? Guess what's under there? Sure 'nuff, Stony Brook runs parallel to the street under the vacant land. Just behind me when I was shooting this picture was Doyle's pub. The brook runs under the front corner of the building. The second picture was taken on Amory Street near Boylston Street, and shows a walkway leading.... diagonally, of course, up towards the Stony Brook T Station. The fences and property lines show clearly the path the brook takes underground. I wanted to take a picture looking back in the other direction, but they're doing work on the building, and the scaffolding hides the angle of the building.

Dr Livingstone I Presume?

Stony Brook Reservation, outflow pipes from Washington street 2007.

Outflow conduit from under Harvard street

Bridge at old Mattapan Hospital site.

Bridge, facing east.

Orange gunk - your guess is as good as mine.

Today I finished my search for the headwaters of the great river Stony. In an earlier entry, I showed that the origin of Bussey Brook at the West Roxbury Parkway is two stormwater outflow pipes. I can add the origins of two more sources of Stony Brook today.

The first picture above shows two outfall pipes, numbers 031 and 033 of the Boston Water and Sewer Commission, at the west end of Stony Brook Reservation. The pipes come from under Washington street just south of Lagrange street, and the water then flows under Enneking Parkway and into the Reservation, where it eventually drains into Turtle Pond when levels are high enough.

Picture #2 is from the old Mattapan hospital site, on the north side of Morton street. It shows the old storm drain that empties into the property from under Harvard street. Pictures #3 and 4 show a bridge on the property that once handled traffic that approached the hospital from the Morton street entrance.

Picture #3 looks east towards Harvard street, and #4 looks back downstream. Note the chain link fence screen that is hung by chains from the bridge over the channel. There is trash everywhere in the channel and along the banks, so evidently someone made an attempt to block the trash from getting downstream. Nice try. Unfortunately, the channel through to Walk Hill street is littered with paper and plastic trash up and over the banks.

Finally, #5 shows orange gunk coming out of a small pipe in the side of the channel. It's pure guesswork, but I suspect that it once emptied from a hospital building. It almost looks like rust - maybe an old cast iron pipe? - but I didn't get close enough to check. I'd need rubber gloves to do any exploring like that.

So now I think I've covered it. As far as I can determine, the old Roslindale branch is entirely covered. Bussey, Canterbury and the main channel are all fed by city storm drains. Isn't that lovely? First there was a tidal trout stream, then a typhoid threat, a flood threat and finally a storm drain. Such is progress.

Where It Starts

Turtle pond, 2007.

I'm adding a picture of Turtle Pond today. There's no vantage point to take in the whole pond, so I went with a sectional shot. There's actually a wall of rock that rises behind the north side of the pond, but trees block what would be a very nice view.
It's really a shame that Stony Brook Reservation gets so little use. There is a parking lot directly opposite the pond on Enneking Parkway, and another between the pond and Washington street, but both are permanently closed. As I recall, back 10-20 years ago there were "incidents" near the parking lots, and the police closed them. So you get a few crimes in the parking lots, and you effectively close down the park? Great solution. When my relatives from Sweden visited us, we drove them to Boston by way of Turtle Pond and Enneking Parkways. They were amazed when we told them that the park was within the border of the city of Boston. I think they imagined American cities looking like a Kojak episode - endless brownstones and empty lots. I doubt many people in Boston know Stony Brook reservation any better - it's a hidden gem.

Canterbury Brook

View Larger Map

View Larger Map

In a previous entry, I posted about the Canterbury brook, and discussed searching out the above-ground section of the stream. Since a picture really is worth a thousand words, I figured I should post a nice satellite map to show what I found - and more.
**Note: the satellite pictures are cropped a little on this page. To see the full image as I describe it, please expand it to full size.
In the first image, Canterbury brook - a dark line here - starts on the right side at Morton st just under the route 203 marker and flows left through the old State Hospital property to American Legion Highway, under the road to the St Michael's Cemetery property. Follow the dark line over towards Canterbury st, and then back towards the Legion Highway to what is Walk Hill st. Under the road, it appears again - difficult to see in the picture - and goes underground at the car wash at the very lower left corner of the picture.
The second image continues upstream from the first. The brook goes under Morton st as before, and turns along Morton in the north side of the State Hospital site and seems to run right up to Harvard st opposite Hansborough st. I've yet to drive over and look at that property, but the picture does suggest a question: if the brook comes from Harvard st, where does that water ultimately come from? Is Canterbury brook just the outflow of a Mattapan storm drain? If you saw the stream bed as it flows through the State Hospital property, you'd think it came straight from a factory. Have you ever seen black algae? Yuck.

Aqua Vitae, Aqua Mortis

For such an insignificant stream, Stony Brook has attracted its share of tragedy. Apparently, when there is no Golden Gate Bridge, people in extremis will settle for less. Bless their souls.
Boston Globe August 28, 1893
Found Body Under Bridge
Unknown Man Drowned in Stony Brook, Back Bay Fens
The body of a man was found under Stony brook
bridge, Back Bay fens, yesterday by Sergt Murphy
of the park police.
The man had been seen in that locality for several
days previous, and the police, thinking he had
committed suicide, notified the medical examiner.
The latter stated that he had made no thorough
examination of the body, but it appeared to him
that under the circumstances the man died from
natural causes.
The body, which was taken to be that of a man of
60, 5 ft 5 in in height, 140 pounds, gray beard
and mustache, dark clothes, white undergarments,
light stockings and button shoes.
Boston Globe March 23, 1895
Body In The Fens.
Unknown Man Committed Suicide There.
Jumped Through a Hole in the Ice in Stony Brook
Three Children Witnessed the Rash Deed.
Police Have Not Established Victim's Identity.
Was a Man of Middle Age, and Wore a Cape Coat.
One more unfortunate had given up the fight and
escaped from the struggle of life by the open door
of suicide.

So effectively was the plan of self-destruction
carried out that as yet no light has been cast on
the identity of this victim of self-destruction.

The scene of the suicide was the Back Bay fens,
the time March 3. Through the reticence of the
police, no news of the case has been given out,
though a careful search of the waterways of the
fens and the banks of the Charles river has been
going on since March.

On March 3 the unknown man was seen standing on
Stony Brook bridge, near Huntington av, by park
policeman Hood.

He stood there for some time and acted strangely.
Once while the policeman watched him, his head was
bowed, as if he were meditating.

It was late in the afternoon, and a cold wind blew
from the northwest. That the man should linger
there on such a bleak day the patrolman thought
strange. He drew near the man, but the stranger
walked away.
The next day a little girl, whose home is near,
accosted the patrolman and told him that while she
and two companions were playing near the bridge
the afternoon before, a stranger had committed

The children had seen him on the bridge and
noticed his strange manner. They were some
distance away, and he apparently did not notice
them. They saw him turn after the patrolman
disappeared, and walk back to the bridge, from
which he had gone a little way when he saw that he
was observed by the policeman.

He stood for a moment as if hesitating, looked in
different directions, and then remained standing
on the bridge several minutes without moving.
His eyes were fixed on the small hole in the ice
near the edge of the bridge.

Stepping from the bridge to the granite coping,
with his eyes turned upward, and lifting his hat
from his head, he plunged into the water.
Once he came to the surface, but he made no
attempt to save himself, and his body sank beneath
the ice, which covered the water except in the
spot, not more than three feet in size, into which
he had jumped.

Stricken with terror, and not old enough to know
what to do, the three children watched the spot
where the body sank and then ran away.
That night they told their parents, and notice was
sent to the police.

The park police, under the direction of Sergt W.
Bowen Murphy, made an investigation. The principal
fact revealed was that the man who committed
suicide was undoubtedly the same as was seen by
patrolman Hood.

The children told that the suicide was a middle-
aged man, and wore a cape coat. His hat was a
derby. The description corresponded with that of
the man patrolman Hood saw.

The police dragged the pool, but they found
nothing. They broke the ice in order that the
search might be more complete, but in vain.
Since then a watch has been kept, but nothing has
been seen to show that a man lay in the water.
Bodies rise in summer within nine days, but in
winter it is nearer 18. Every patrolman in the
Fens, and along the banks of the Charles river,
has instructions to watch carefully for the body.

The scene of the suicide is off Huntington av,
near the baseball grounds. The theory that the man
might have been Rev John Owen Bache, the missing
New York insurance agent, which was advanced
yesterday, is not credited by the police.

Boston Globe October 23, `1901
Edward W. Leavitt's Body Found in Fenway.
Well-Known Leather Dealer Had Been Missing Several
No Sign of Foul Play in Connection with Death.
Business Troubles Had Affected His Mind.
He Lived at 66 Waverley St, Roxbury District.
At 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon the body of a
man, who was later identified as Edward W.
Leavitt, the leather merchant who had been missing
from his home, 63 Waverley st Roxbury, since a
week ago Monday, was found floating in Stony brook
directly opposite the residence of Robert Treat
Paine Jr. in the Fenway.

The body was first seen by a man walking through
the Fenway, and was then near the Agassiz bridge.
This man notified a patrolman of division 16 and
the body was brought ashore, where it was turned
over to an undertaker, who took it to the mortuary
of the City hospital. Decomposition had progressed
so far that identification was made only by the
clothing and letters addressed to Mr Leavitt at
his business address, which was 130 Summer st,
Boston. The medical examiner was notified and will
view the body this morning.

Until that time the official cause of death cannot
be learned, but the police have no doubt that Mr
Leavitt either fell into the brook and was drowned
accidentally while wandering about in a mentally
unbalanced condition, or that he threw himself
into the stream while suffering from his
overwrought nerves. There was no indication of
foul play on the body, which, with the exception
of his hat, was fully clothed, even to his
overcoat. Mr Leavitt's watch and some little
articles of jewelry were intact when his body was
found, and there is no suspicion of foul play in
connection to his death.
[article continues]

October 15, 1893
Mary Hogan's Troubles
They Led Her Into the Water of Stony Brook, But
She Will Live.
Early yesterday morning Mary Hogan, 53 years,
married and living in the rear of 3417 Washington
st, was found in the water of Stony brook, near
Keyes st, by John Hogg, who lives nearby.
Mary's husband, Patrick, was arrested the day
before for assaulting another person with a hammer
and in consequence he was committed to jail until
bail was secured.

This fact with other things played upon Mary's
mind, and sometime after 3 o'clock she wandered
from her home and in some manner fell into the

Hogg found Mary floundering in the water. He ran
for assistance and notified Mr. Perry, janitor of
the Franklin park overlook. Together with Mr Perry
and a boy named McCart, Hogg pulled the woman from
the water, which was three feet in depth.

They took her home.

Dr O'Keefe, after working a few hours, restored
the woman to consciousness.
September 22, 1905

Unhappy In New Land.
Mrs Ellen Kelly of Roxbury Found Dead in Stony
Brook - Came from Ireland About a Year Ago.
The body of a woman, which was identified as that
of Mrs Ellen Kelley of 99 Phillips st, Roxbury,
was found floating in Stony brook, near the Fenway
bridge, shortly before 9 o'clock yesterday morning
by employees of the sanitary division of the city.
Mrs Kelley, who was 60 years old, came to this
country about a year ago. She sold a farm in
Roscommon county, Ireland, and joined her
relatives in Roxbury. She had made her home with
her married daughter, Mrs Dolan, at 99 Phillips

The change to new scenes and strange customs
affected her deeply and she had been melancholy
for some time. For the past couple of days she had
been acting strangely and brooded very much. About
4 o'clock yesterday morning the people in the
house heard noises downstairs, and upon
investigation found a kitchen window open. Mrs
Kelley was missing from her room.

Her relatives searched the vicinity of their
homes, but unavailingly. They were greatly shocked
when they learned of her death.

Boston's Costly Little Stream

Some nice background from one hundred years ago on the trouble Stony brook caused Roxbury and Boston before it was put permanently underground.

Boston Daily Globe July 12, 1908

Boston's Costly Little Stream
City Has Expended Nearly $3,500,000, Paying
Damages, and Trying to Hold in Check the Wilful
Waters of Stony Brook - It Has Baffled the
Ingenuity of More Than One Civil Engineer - Brook
Now Runs Underground a Long Distance - A Walk on
the Bank from Clarendon Hills to Turtle Pond, the
Source, Will Amply Repay Any Lover of Nature

There is one romantic little brook whose babbling
has cost Boston nearly $3,500,000 during the past
40 years, and which bids fair to cost many hundred
thousand dollars more before its erratic and
wilful waters are fully held in check.

That stream is Stony brook, familiar to Roxbury
youth for two centuries.

It has figured in politics and in the courts. It
has baffled the ingenuity of more than one civil
engineer. Its overflow has many a time made the
surrounding country into a lake dotted with
islands of houses, whose owners have promptly sued
the city for damages. The havoc wrought by the
gentle and quiet stream during the few days each
year of its inebriation has been incalculable.
"I bought a lovely house and garden not far from
Stony brook," said a man who came to the city to
educate his children. "All was beautiful until one
morning. I awoke to find that the children
couldn't go to school before I had signaled for
row boats to take them out of the house."

Stony brook is the outlet of Muddy pond - only
that is not now the name of the pond, and it never
was a very good name anyhow, for its waters are
not turbid, but clear blue. So the park
commissioners changed the name to Turtle pond,
because no turtle was ever seen anywhere near the
vicinity. But Turtle pond lies in a secluded spot
in the Stony Brook reservation in West Roxbury,
about a half a mile from Washington st, surrounded
by Bearberry, Milkweed and Overbrook hills.

From the southern extremity of the pond the brook
flows southerly into Hyde Park through the woods
and swampy meadows, past Bald Knob hill and not
far from Rooney's rock, into Waters-meet meadow.
There it bends its course into a northerly
direction, which it generally maintains until,
through underground conduits, it pours its waters
into the Charles River not far from the
Charlesgate - its romance, its idyllic beauty and
its charm all lost in a sewer.

The upper stretches of the brook are still very
picturesque in places, where the grassy banks are
overgrown with trees and with wild flowers. Here
and there the channel narrows down to four or five
feet in width, and again it widens. Much of the
olden time beauty of the brook is still intact,
and any lover of nature will be amply repaid by a
walk along the banks of the stream from Clarendon
Hills to is source, a ramble of about three miles.

Many of the older residents of Roxbury, with
recollections of their boyhood days, cherish
memories of Stony brook 50 years ago, when it was
a favorite resort for anglers. Trout were once
plenty in its upper waters, and even today horned
pout a foot long and other fish of equal size are
not uncommon. In the olden days the brook flowed
past thriving vegetable farms, whose owners
brought their produce to market in their own
teams. In those days, the stream gave little
trouble by its annual freshets.

It was only when the banks began to be lined with
houses, about 60 or 70 years ago, that the annual
spring freshets first caused annoyance. In 1851
the city of Roxbury took its first step toward
confining the turbulent waters within their
channel by changing its course and covering it
over. The work, however, was not completed until
15 years later.

At two points the brook was utilized as a water
power - at Wait's mill, near the corner of Roxbury
and Pynchon sts, and at the "Tide" mill, which
stood near Parker st, not far from the present
Huntington av. The latter mill has existed only in
tradition for the past half century, and for the
removal of the dam at Wait's mill, in 1866, the
city paid the Boston belting company $7000,
although the flowage was used only to turn a

Above the dam was Smith's pond, which, in summer,
bred malaria and typhoid fever. The same trouble
existed along the course of the brook further

The city of Roxbury did all it could to restrain
the waters by a covered channel from Roxbury
Crossing to the large basin on what is now the
Fenway, but every year there were disastrous
freshets and consequent claims for damages.
In February, 1867, occurred the most extraordinary
freshet in the whole history of the brook. The
whole vicinity of Roxbury Crossing down to the
Fens was under water. Small houses and other
buildings floated around, in a great lake. All the
machinery on the first floor of the Boston belting
company's plant was submerged.

After annexation of Roxbury to Boston and after
the city had begun a systematic plan for the
improvement of the brook by carrying its waters
through an underground conduit, thus changing the
stream into a sewer, which, however, was never
intended for the disposal of sewage, but solely to
care for the waters of the brook, the real
troubles for the city commenced. Boston had
learned what an enfant terrible it had on its

Floods every year!

From 1881 to 1886 there was one disastrous
freshet after another, culminating in the later
year with the memorable flood, which made hundreds
of families temporarily homeless and did hundreds
of thousands of dollars' damage. That flood evoked
from Mayor O'Brien a message to the city council,
in which he said:

"It is evident that the Stony brook improvement
has failed to do the work that was intended; that
the money expended on its construction and
improvement has been to a great extent money
wasted, and that the so-called improvement is as
unreliable today as the old brook every was. The
meadows and swamps that were intended to be
relieved by the improvement have been overflowed
to as great an extent, during the recent storm, as
was ever known before.

"To say the least, it is a most faulty piece of
engineering, and we have received scarcely any
benefit from the large amount of money expended
upon its construction.

"Even admitting that the storm was the severest we
have had for years, we must also admit that our
Stony brook improvement is a failure in an
emergency, and the circumstances are likely to
arise any year when it is no protection whatever.
"We may not have such a calamity for 50 years, and
it may come next year. It is a dangerous stream,
and building and settlements on its borders should
be discouraged until engineering skill is able to
control it during the heaviest storms. If it is
allowed to remain as it now exists the present
calamity is nothing in comparison to what may
occur some years hence, when the land on its
borders is more thickly settled than at present."

Following Mayor O'Brien's suggestion, the city
engineer's office worked out a plan for the real
improvement of the brook channel, which, taken
together with the work on the Back Bay fens, has
only been completed within recent years. The huge
culverts, about 15 feet by 12, are ample to care
for the flowage in any ordinary freshet. The
conduit begins at Williams st, about half a mile
north of Forest Hills, and extends to the Charles
river, near the original mouth of the brook.

In the freshets of 1881 to 1886 the plant of the
Boston belting company suffered damage each year,
and it finally instituted suits against the city
for compensation, alleging that it owned the mill
site and mill privilege and land on both sides of
the brook and was entitled to the use and
enjoyment of its waters "in their natural state
and condition," but that the city, by changing the
brook to a sewer, had caused the overflow, and so
was liable for damages. The case was fought for
years, but the belting company won in the end and
was awarded damages to the extent of $142,300.
That was the largest single verdict against the
city on account of the Stony brook overflow.

How much the brook cost the city of Roxbury and
the town of West Roxbury before their annexation
to Boston is not definitely known, but the total
cost is estimated at about $50,000. Up to
December, 1906, the city of Boston had paid since
1867, according to figures compiled by Dr Hartwell
of the statistics department from reports of the
auditor and the officials in charge of sewers, the
sum of $3,177,206. The expenditures since 1906
will foot up a few hundred thousand more, and the
covering of the brook from Williams st to the Hyde
Park line, a distance about two miles, still
remains to be done.

When that is done, every vestige of the old Stony
brook within the city of Boston will be buried
out of sight.

A Street Runs Through It

As I've searched out the path of Stony Brook, I've come across more than one "Brook"-named street, so I thought I'd catalog them. This is one time I don't need the Intergoogle. I have my late father's Boston Police handbook. The title page informs me that the Commisioner in 1955 was Thomas F. Sullivan, and the Superintendent of Police was Edward W. Fallon. Along with entries like "Breaking Doors to Effect Arrest," "Hackney Carriage, Rules For," and "Dead Bodies," there is a directory that lists all the streets in the city, with the address of each intersecting street included. So for instance, Parley Vale runs from 2 Parley ave to 14 Parley ave, if you should want to know.

The binding to the book failed many years ago, but the blue fold-over cover has kept it together. And in our case, the alphabetical listing allowed me to find the "Brook" streets I knew of, and some I didn't. Here's what I found.

Brookside Ave - comes first, because it's the one people associate With Stony Brook the most.

Continuing alphabetically:

Brook St - from 66 Mt Hope St. This one puzzled me. A quick online map search tells me that this is now called Bradstreet Ave - a dead end off Mt Hope. And it's right about where the main channel of the brook coming from Hyde Park approaches the Canterbury Brook and merges.
Note: I drove down there today. Bradstreet goes south off Mt Hope. It's not actually a dead end - it connects through as a private road. More importantly, there is a Brook St, but it's on the opposite (north) side of Mt Hope, and it's about two houses east. This is also a private road, and it has 12 new houses built along the east side - someone developed this in the last few years. Which would explain why it's not in Google Maps yet. If you add the satellite picture to Google Maps road map, the street and the houses show up. Both Brook St and the parallel Starbird St dead-end into St Michael Cemetery, which Canterbury Brook wraps around, so either one could be the current path of Stony Brook. And to the south of Mt Hope St, the brook could be under Bradstreet or it could pass through the Latter Day Saints property parallel to Bradstreet. Looking at the 1874 Sanborn map (no. 21), I suspect that today's Brook St is the more likely path.

Brookdale St - this runs between Florence and Sycamore Sts in Roslindale. It is between Healy Field on Washington St and the railroad tracks that run along Hyde Park Ave. And it's right in the path of the Roslindale branch that started near Belgrade Ave and met the main channel near today's Archdale housing projects.

Brookfield St - Hmmm... this runs from South St to South Fairview, between the Roslindale train station and Fallon Field. It's close, but on the wrong side of the tracks. Maybe you could see the brook from here? It's just about three blocks away from the old channel.
Brookley Rd - From 3548 Washington St to Forest Hills St. The brook crossed here on its way from Forest Hills to Green St.

Brookley Terrace - From Brookley Rd to Lotus. This doesn't exist any more. Lotus shows on in the Sanborn Fire Maps, but in Google Maps, Lotus is shown as a dotted line off Forest Hills. I suspect this name came from association with Brookley Rd rather than a direct connection with the brook itself.

Brooks St - from Cummins Hwy to 36 Navarre St. Navarre runs south from Canterbury St., between and parallel to American Legion Hwy. and Hyde Park Ave. Brooks is not on the map today, but if you took it up to Cummins Hwy from 36 Navarre,, you might come out opposite Mt Cavalry Rd. The brook definitely comes right through here.

Brookstone St - Here's a puzzle. The directory says "from 3894 Washington crossing Stony Brook to Bradeen." The problem is, that sounds exactly like Brookway Rd and Brookway Terrace. More on this later.

Brookway Footpath - Curiouser and curiouser. Listed "from Brookway Terrace to Hyde Park Ave." Curious because that would take you across the railroad tracks. Could it be that the arched tunnel I've written about earlier is not Stony Brook, but actually this footpath? Hmmm...
Brookway Rd, and its extension, Brookway Terrace - back to the Brookstone puzzle. This is listed as starting at 3904 Washington, which is at about where Ukraine Way is now. In fact, Brookway Rd starts at 3894 Washington today, and I'm pretty sure it did in 1955. This one stays a puzzle for now.

Finally, there's a Stonybrook Rd. that dead-ends from 35 Brookley Rd. The 1905 Sanborn map shows Stony Brook crossing what is now Brookley Rd at just about that point. So apparently Stonybrook Rd was built on top of the actual brook. Google does not show a street there now, but a Stonley St is just to the west. This is an industrial area adjoining the old Arborway car yard, so it may have been changed over the years as the MBTA cut out the trolley service.

One last thought: I'm surprised there's nothing from Hyde Park to the south. That area was probably the last to put the brook underground, so it would have been a significant part of the countryside when the streets were laid out.

Boating on Stony Brook - An Adventure

Here's an interesting feature article - they just don't write like this any more. Please note the literary references. Taken at his word, the author banters with the sewer superintendent with quotes from Tennyson. At the least, the reader is assumed to get the references. The equivelent today? Maybe Jay Leno making the night's required Britney Spears and Paris Hilton jokes for week after week? So much for progress.

Boston Globe March 14, 1893

Through Stony Brook Conduit
Perilous Trip of an Inquisitive Stranger in Dark
Depths of the Water of the Waterway
An individual whose name will not go thundering
down the ages as a synonym for wisdom, last week
sauntered into the gatehouse of the Stony brook
While the courteous official in charge was showing
him the interesting sights of the works, he noticed
an iron ring to which was attached a rope, and,
being more inquisitive than wise he asked what it
was for.
The information was vouchsafed him that the rope
was attached to a shaft, back of which was a boat,
so that if one of the men or any other unfortunate
individual should fall into the water he might land
on the raft, and so make his was back to safety,
through the conduit and the Back Bay Fens, and thus
return to the bosom of his family.
The unwise one said that such a trip was a
desirable one, to which the official replied that
it was so.
The unwise one further said that he would like to
take the trip.
The official courteously remarked that the only
thing needful was permission of the inspector of
the department, Mr. Edward McLaughlin.
In a moment the two were on a jaunt to the house of
Mr McLaughlin. He was found laid up with a
combination of sciatica, lumbago and rheumatism.
He readily gave his permission, and incidentally
remarked that after reading a big book on "Every
Man His Own Physician," he had come to the
conclusion that he had a broken leg.
Back to the gatehouse went the pair.
The official was too proud to back out, and the
unwise one didn't know enough to.
Rubber coats and hats were speedily appropriated,
and, after some trouble with the boots, the unwise
one was ready.
The five huge openings were pouring a cascade of
muddy water into the tiny basin, and the space
beneath the gatehouse was covered with foaming,
boiling rapids.
A bad quarter of an hour was spent by Capt Bill
Daly, father of the sporting man of the same name,
St Johnnie Hogan and Frank Leslie, in preparing the
boat, the "Stony Brook," for service.
At last all was ready. The unwise one, Capt Daly,
and Sub-Inspector James F. Granlee scaled
down the ladder, and, after some few frantic
efforts, the lines were cast off, and, like a rifle
bullet, the little boat and its occupants shot into
the cavernous opening.
Grantee shouted like a stentor: "We're off," and
the cruise of the "Stony Brook" had begun.
With a whirr, in a shrill treble, the boat shot
into the mouth of the conduit, and all was as dark
as midnight is supposed to be.
No one dared to look behind, for all the faculties
of the crew were necessary to keep the craft in the
middle of the stream.
Capt Daly would not trust the safety of precious
lives to any other than his own skillful hand, and
so he sat at the stern, with a deftly handled
The center seat was occupied by Mr. Granlee,and the
foolish one crouched in the bow a helpless and
worthless burden.
A second and the goodbye shouts of those left
behind were drowned in the roar of the great falls,
and the crew of the little boat were left to their
own strength and skill.
In a few seconds all but the deep and steady roar
of the falls was hushed, and even a whisper could
be heard with almost painful distinctness.
The boat was supplied with a locomotive headlight
in the bow and a pair of lanterns on the side.
Once beyond the foam of the rapids all was as still
as the grave.
The place was like a refrigerator.
If one shut his eyes for a moment he felt himself
suspended between earth and sky.
The strong, sullen current went along, mighty as
death, and, if possible, more silent.
The walls of the conduit seemed but a blur of
bricks and mortar, and when an opening was passed
the roar of an overhead wagon or horse car sounded
like the deep boom of a thunderstorm in midsummer.
So still was it that the unwise one was prompted to
ask questions befitting his uninformed state.
Where are straight upward hole in the arch was
passed he ventured to assert that they were ladders
for unfortunates to cling to.
"No sir." said Capt. Sir Henry Curtis Granlee "They
are manholes for men to come down".
The unwise was thankful for the information, and
kept quiet until the outlet holes for some small
sewers were passed. He suggested that there were
some sewers, small ones. "Yes, they are
A minute later one was passed filled with mortar.
"Ah, there's on plugged up," said the unwise one.
"Yes, it's cut off." said Capt. Granlee.
Feeling that he was unable to keep up with the
technical terms of his captain, the man lacking
wisdom did a wise thing - he shut up.
So far all had been quiet as a ladies' parlor, but
on a sudden the captain called out "Gurney and
Parker sts."
The unwise one felt at home at once, and began
searching in his pockets for the customary nickel,
and it was not until a sharp "Look out there!" from
Capt. Granlee that he recovered his presence of
The wayfarers were at the point where the immense
single arch is separated into two, each scarcely
smaller than the main arch.
The captain shouted "Right!" to Capt. Daly, and the
unwise one murmured "Left" at the same time.
The result was that the boat was landed square
against the central pier.
The mighty, though silent current held them there a
Slowly the straining boat was edged over the
dangerous point, and once more she was headed for
the far distant outlet. The brickwork on the side
seemed but a strip of dull dark drab in the ghostly
glare of the lanterns and the steady shine of the
headlight. When a word was spoken it sounded like a
clang of an iron drumstick on a gong, and the
echoes carried it along and back until it died out
in a sharp rattle, like the platoon firing (?) of
Still farther on, and a small glint of light
appeared. The unwise one began to dream of the
underground voyage of Peter Wilkins and the trip of
Jan Kidd. But strongest of his overburdened
imagination was the experience of Allan Quartermain
and Umslopogass.
Here indeed was the light bursting into splendor
and heat, here were the dark, dark walls, here was
the steady, silent current, so mild when of the
same mind as it, so mighty and cruel when trying to
stem it.
Long and anxiously were the eyes strained to see
the flaming gas of Haggard's wonderful tale, but
Matter-of Fact Granlee crushed all these phantasies
in the iron pestle of common sense by answering the
unwise one's query as to the distance by saying:
"that light is the outlet of the conduit at Back
Bay fens, and is over a quarter of a mile away."
Again the unwise on subsided, and he began to feel
more and more useless and more and more of a burden
to those in whose charge he was.
As the boat shot out into the pool ahead of the
bridge the time was taken, and the trip, which
seemed to have been made at much length, was found
to have occupied but seven minutes.
As the distance was a mile, less a few feet, the
time made was not so bad.
The men back at the gatehouse had been instructed
to put in the gates after 10 minutes, so as to make
the journey back comparatively easy.
A wait about five minutes and the boat was headed
for the right opening.
Here at once came into play the strength and skill
of Capt Daly, 76 years old, but with a frame of oak
and muscles and finely tempered steel. He scullied
and steered the boat, while Inspector Granlee aided
as much as possible with one oar.
The opening was not wide enough to admit of a pair
of oars being used, so the old man kept the boat to
one side of the arch, and the oar was skilfully
brought to bear on the forward movement.
The arch was no sooner entered that the current was
found to be swift and strong. Granlee and Daly
wondered if the men at the gate house had obeyed
and turned the water into the old conduit, but
their wondering amounted to no more than the unwise
ones' trepidation.
When looking at the current it seemed as if the
boat was shooting along with wonderful quickness,
but on raising the eyes to the brick walls of the
conduit it was found that progress was extremely
slow. The water was deep, and while not a ripple or
check of any kind on its surface indicated that
there was anything but black water, the force
against the boat was something wonderful.
Slowly and steadily the aged captain worked at the
straining oar, and foot by foot the boat crept back
to the rapids at the gatehouse.

There was ample time for the seeker after
information to find out all abut the monster
culvert and its building, and as was to be
expected, while he had no breath to help the boat
along, he had plenty to ask impertinent questions.
Between the beats of the oars in the rowlocks he
found out that the culvert was built from a design
of Supt. Carter, that it cost over $2,500,000; that
it was under construction for two years, and that
it would last for a century. The latter was easily
seen, for not a break or imperfection was visible.
This could not be owing to the fear of the public
eye, for, save Inspector Edward McLaughlin, not a
human being has ever cast his eyes on the works
since finished.
Save a few tiny stalactites, nothing like a leak is
to be seen in the long stretch of brick work making
up the immense specimen of engineering skill. Where
the water has reached high up on the wall a few
whitening germs of moss are to be seen, and beyond
that all is a stretch of perfect masonry.
The trip back to the entrance on the immense
conduit was as slow as the trip down was fast. But
so steadily, if so slowly, was the scull worked by
the aged son of the sea that the foolish one could
not help murmuring
And the dead, oared by the dumb,
Passed upward with the tide
He was no sooner void of the lines than he was
surprised and overwhelmed by the captain with,
"You ain't so pretty as the lily maid Elaine,'but
your feet are a d--d sight bigger, and I'm d--d if
I'm dumb And perhaps you wold be less trouble if
you were dead."
The reminiscent poet didn't feel hurt at anything
but the allusion to the feet, and it did gall him
to reflect that he had taken a full half hour to
get into the largest pair of rubber boots in the
sewer department, and even then they pinched, and
they were not half on.
He kept quiet for a few minutes, but, never knowing
when he was well off, he soon forgot tight boots
and everything else.
Passing by some cabalistic figures on the culvert
walls, he asked what they meant. A murmur, which to
a suspicious man might have sounded like "To make
fools ask questions." was his answer.
A "What's that?" as if he were slightly deaf,
brought the further answer that they meant the
changes in the grade, the beginnings of turns in
the course and depth of the foundations.
One was passed which indicated that the foundations
were 41 feet below the normal surface of the water.
The captain told his inquisitive passenger that the
surmise was correct.
It was further explained that the greater part of
the huge arch was based on a ledge which underlies
all that part of the Highland district, and that it
had been utilized by Supt Carter as a foundation
for the greater length of the conduit.
By this time it seemed that the greater part of the
course had been gone over, and when the unwise one
wondered how much further it was to the gate house
he was bluntly told that barely a tenth of the way
had been covered.
In making a turn to the right in the current, which
seems to have an insane desire to go in a straight
direction, piled up a quartet of arches on the
Before they knew it the boat was beating in the
teeth of the turned-aside water and was for a
moment stationary.
"Look out there." cried Sir Henry, and the
passenger hurriedly tried to compress his 220
pounds of too, too solid flesh into the smallest
space possible.
An anxious query was sent back, was anything wrong?
Nothing was wrong, only the passerger had come near
swamping the boat.
A few moments more and the centre of the arch was
reached and the slow and steady progress of the
craft was resumed. Still another curve and the boat
went pounding against the brickwork.
Thinking to help thigs along, the passenger thrust
out his hand, dug his fingernails into the bricks,
and got a handful of something. It may have been a
snake, or a lizard, or a bat, or some unclean
creature or, perhaps, a bit of moss. But if it had
been a million dollars in gold, and each dollar red
hot, it could not have been dropped quicker.
By the time a full half hour had passed, and a
glance backward showed that the cruisers were still
in sight of the light which shone into the mouth fo
the culvert.
The old man was still shooting the boat along with
mighty sweeps, and the current was fighting him and
his assistant with a grim, unrelenting
perserverance which would have been enough to
discourage any ordinary man.
The aged son of Nepture was no ordinary man, for he
had no time or breath to waste on the passenger,
only a quick "Shut up!" being the answer to various
interesting queries a to the progress and
difficulties of the voyage.
But in spite of the old man's iron muscles and the
help given by the side oar, he breathed more
heavily as each rood of the course was (?) bed.
Capt. Greenlee offered half a dozen times to take
the scull, but Capt. Daly was either too knowing or
too strong, and he steadfastly refused.
At last a manhole was sighted and the party
laboriously urged the boat toward it. The iron
steps once reached were gripped with the energy of
exhausted men, and all took a long breath.
The passenger, who had none of the hard work, was
the last to relinquish his hold on the support, and
longingly and regretfully parted with the brick
imbedded iron.
Slowly, foot by foot, painfully with the labored
breathing of the oarsmen and the steady thump of
the wooden blades in the iron rowlocks, the course
was passed over.
Another manhole was reached and another breath was
taken. Then a fresh start and it again dawned on
the obtuse mind of the passenger that he was really
a worthless individual. He felt as helpless as a
woman at a prize fight, anious to distinguish
himself, but nothing came his way.
Another and another manhole was passed, and at last
another faint gilmmer of light was seen far ahead.
Rest was again taken, and Capt Daly remarked that
it was a nasty current, and the water was rising.
The discovery seemed to make the two who knew
something earnest, and no replies were vouchsafed
to the passenger's clumsy attempts to be poetic.
Even the choicest lines of Martin Farquhar Tupper
passed unnoticed, and a passage from Mrs Homans
was unceremoniously broken into by a warning "Look
out, there."
At last the point where the two arches became one
was reached. Every one felt that the course was
half over, and that the broad stream would make it
easier sculling.
But every one was doomed to disappointment. The
huge fall of water came down in nearly a straight
line, without a ripple, black and threatening. It
was like the force of darkness pushing the sunlight
off the face of the earth.
The atmosphere was like a refrigerator, only much
more damp. The passenger actually forgot to say
anything, and felt that at last he had really found
a time to keep still.
Cold as it was the rowers were reeking with sweat,
and their hot breaths seemed as it left their
nostrils, dense enough to fall and strike the water
with a thud.
At last the weary trio came in sight of the
gatehouse rapids. No sooner were they there than
they say that the two openings through which the
water had been pouring had been increased to five,
the full extent.
The pool into which they all poured was a singing
boiling mass of foam.
The foolish passenger felt still more uncomfortable
as the boat reaches the raft and everybody clung to
something and took a long breath previous to
working back in the ladder which streched so
invitingly down, barely 10 feet away.
A loud "halloa" was sent down from the watchers on
the frail flooring of the passageway, and a few
moments more and the occupants of the boat could
see John Graham, he of F(?) fame, handsome Johnny
Hogan, and Frank Leslie, the only one who did not
look anxious.
As soon as the boat hove in sight preparations were
made to heave a rope.
The boat worked up through the narrow and foaming
channel to the head of the raft and swung against
its immense timbers. It careened partly and was
with difficulty put on an even keel.
Mr Graham at last managed to cast a line with a big
bar of wood attached to it, so near that the
passenger got it in his hands.
He might as well have tried to hold a glacier . It
was twisted out of his hands quicker than it was
got into them, and again the boat whent up against
to raft. The line was lengthened, the stick was
thrown and caught in the thwarts and again the
travellers essayed to reach the ladders.
The boat's head was put right up to it, the
passenger made a frantic strike for the lower
round, missed it by feet, and in another second the
bubbling, foaming, treacherous surge had cast them
so near the fifth waterfall that, with a flash a
couple of tons of water were thrown into the boat
and half filled, it jumped back to its old starting
place above the raft.
With grave faces the two men who know something
bailed her out, while all of them held on to the
raft's painter, all but the useless passenger with
one hand, and he gripped the rope with a grasp
which a giant could hardly have loosed.
This time Granlee caught the club, and while he
made it fast, under the thwarts and gunwale the
white-faced and anxious watchers on the passageway
above farily lifted the craft and its occupants to
the foot of the ladder.
Again a hand was streched out to catch a rung, but
with a jump the boat was carried to one side, and
was quick as lightning another ton of water was
poured into the boat.
Again a death grip of the raft's painter, again an
anxious and hurried bailing, and the craft was
once more started on its 10 foot cruise to the foot
of the ladder. This time the fickle and feminine
goddess was with the cruisers, for a hitch was
made, two ropes were made fast to the boat, and the
passenger, as the most bulky and most useless
member of the party, was clutched and pulled up the
Full 10 minutes more were necessary before Granlee
came up, and the old captain was safe in about five
more. He had had the least to say, had done the
most work, and was the only one who really seemed
to be aware that the three men were for 20 minutes
in real danger of drowning.
The time consumed in the return trip was two hours and 11 minutes.
All were drenched to the skin, all were cold and numb, and all were glad that the trip was over.
As to the unwise and inquisitive individual, he gained wisdom to a slight extent, and he found out by his questions that Bostonians in the Stony brook watershed need have no further fear of a freshet, for the culvert can take care of four Stony brooks at once, and then there will be ample room for a boat, without the one lacking wisdom, to go down to the mouth of the arches.
The little watercourse which has troubled the inhabitants of Roxbury since Washington's soldiers first slaked their thirst in its pellucid and trecherous eddies, is now chained and held in hand by forces of engineering science let loose by Supt Carger and tended by Inspector McLaughlin and a corps of courteous and trained assistants.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

It Isn't Easy Being Green (street).

Here are two articles from 1902. Both concern the intersection of Green st and Brookside ave, so they go together nicely.

Boston Globe March 2, 1902

Stony Brook Maintains Its Reputation

Its Overflow of Yesterday Morning Will Cost the
City a Considerable Sum for Damages - Buildings

Yesterday morning's rampage makes more firm the
title of Stony brook as Boston's most expensive drain.

Another large expenditure will be necessary from
the city treasury before the damage done by the
flood of Friday night and Saturday morning can be
made good. While damage has been done to property
all along the brook, the greatest loss has been
inflicted in the more thickly settled parts of
Jamaica Plain, where the very number of buildings
gave the angry torrent scope for its work of

The prompt and effective work of the sewer
department warned the residents near the danger
point along the brook, and also was the means of
preventing much greater damage than did take place.
This damage began first with small cave-ins, then
came the falling in at Brookside Ave in front of
the Thanish factory. The walls of that four-story
brick structure cracked with a loud report.
Later the sidewalk in front of Gaffney &
McDermott's completely fell in and there is nothing
but open space to be seen for quite a distance
under both structures.

Fears were expressed that both buildings might
fall, and extra precaution was taken to prevent
this if possible. The great weight of the two
buildings being in the center and well back from
the cave-in saved them.

In the cave-in along Brookside ave the gas pipes
were twisted and wrenched so that in many places
they were broken and the gas was escaping in great
quantities yesterday. One of the employees of the
gas company in investigating the breaks managed to
get too close to the leak and his torch ignited the
gas. A heavy explosion followed, but he was not

When the danger from the broken water pipes and gas
mains had been attended to the residents who had
left their homes for safety returned to them.
In the West Roxbury district the overflowing water
from Stony brook made many streets impassable, but
most of the water had been drained off my noon

In Roslindale there was quite a flood around the Mt
Hope, Florence and Catherine sts section. The water
reached almost up to the houses and in some cases
cellars were flooded.

Beyond the flooding of a few cellars in the Keyes
and Williams sts section of Jamaica Plain, little
damage was done there.

At Forest Hills between Washington st and the
railroad tracks the back yards and cellars were
filled with water.

[The rest of the article covers other areas around

Boston Globe August 14, 1902

Hard To Fight

Quicksand in Stony Brook Conduit

Workmen Find Treacherous Footing in Trench

Picks, Shovels and Boots Soon Disappear

Driving of Sheet Pilings Necessary to Save Abutting

Interesting Statement Given Out by Supt Donovan

Workmen on the Stony-brook conduit have just opened
up a deep bed of quicksand at the Green st end,
Jamaica Plain. The quicksand will cause the sewer
department no end of trouble.

Supt Donovan of the street department this morning
gave out the following statement on the Green st
difficulty in particular and the conduit in

"Stony brook conduit, 17 feet wide and 15 1/2 feet
high, has now been constructed from the Fens to
Green st, Jamaica Plain in accordance with the
report of the commissioners of 1886. We are now
crossing Green st, and at this point we have
encountered a deep bed of quicksand. This has
necessitated the driving of sheet pilings, tounged
and grooved five inches thick, and 35 feet long,
making what is practically a coffer dam, or rather,
a succession of coffer dams, inside of which the
conduit is being constructed. This is the only
means by which this material can be confined and
prevented from flowing into the treach at such a
rate and in such quantities as to possibly damage
or destroy the abutting buildings.

"There is probably just enough clay mixed with this
quicksand to make a very tenatious or gelatinous
mass so that it is difficult for the workmen to
find a footing in working at the bottom of the
trench. They are in considerable danger of losing
their picks and shovels, and even their boots.
Several of the men have been partly engulfed.

"Green st is closed to public travel, and a
temporary way has been provided across the brook
and among the buildings to the south. It is
expected to get the conduit across Green st and up
to Washington near Williams at this fall.
Construction in this material is necessarily slow,
on account of the extrordinary precaution that has
to be taken, but borings show that this bed of
quicksand disappears at about the location of the
Sturtevant blower works, beyone which point
construction should proceed much more rapidly.

"It would be less expensive to excavate this trench
in solid rock that to deal with this treacherous
material. It is the worst material that has bee
encountered on Stony brook at any other point. It
is calculated that it will cost at least 50 percent
more to build in this material than in good

"In connection and carried along with this work on
the Stony brook conduit a low-grade sewer is also
being constructed. This will afford drainage in the
vicinity of Williams, Washington and Keyes sts as
the existing system of sewers there is too high an
elevation to properly drain this territory. This
low-grade sewer is of brick, 2 by 3 1/2 feet, and
is carried on the haunch of the arch of the Stony
brook conduit.

Studies are being made for the improvement of the
Roslindale branch of Stony brook, from Washington
to Cohassett sts, thence to Central station. Floods
on this branch have become more and more frequent,
and have become so severe that travel has been
stopped on some of the streets, the school children
have been unable to get through them, and even the
cars of the Suburban street railway company have
been stopped on Belgrade av. Engineer Dorr has made
plans for building an enlarged channel from
Washington to Cohassett sts, the bottom of which
has been scoured out by the velocity of the
current. The walls have partially tumbled in. This
work will be started as soon as the street
commissioners have obtained the necessary rights,
after which the sewer division will proceed to
improve the remainder of the channel by deepening
and widening it up to and along teh embankment of
the Dedham branch of the New York, New Haven &
Hartford railroad, as far, at least, as Central

"This will take care of a territory which as grown
rapidly within the past few years, and in which
many new streets have been laid out, constructed
and built upon, and many swampy places drained or
filled. All these operations tend to increase the
severity of the floods. The storm water, which,
under the old condition of things, lay in swamps
and low places for several days, is now discharged
into the brook channel in a few hours.

[The article goes on to discuss work being done in
the Fens and Dorchester.]

Urban Archeology

Hyde Park avenue - showing Brookway Terrace

The mysterious tunnel.

Sanford Fire Insurance Map (courtesy of the Jamaica Plain Historical Society).

I've been traipsing through the Forest Hills area recently, trying to find traces of our subterranean waterway. Mostly, I can only guess the exact location of the culvert, based on Sanford fire maps. The problem is that there are so many manhole covers in the streets that even when I measure the map and pace out distances, it can be difficult to be sure which manhole hides Stony Brook and which is a garden-variety storm drain or sewer. I frequently find myself in the "Here it is... no, wait... here it is..." situation. Since Forest Hills has been altered since the Sanford maps were drawn, I just can't be sure of myself without above-ground evidence to support my guesses.

Which brings me to the topic of the day - my sighting of evidence for the location of the Cantebury Brook culvert near where it joins Stony Brook between Hyde Park Ave and Washington St. The Sampson and Murdock map I've posted in earlier entries shows where Canterbury Brook crosses under Hyde Park Ave and the railroad tracks and enters Stony Brook. The problem is, many of the current streets along Hyde Park Ave today were not laid out yet in 1888, so the precise location of the crossing is difficult to figure based on that map.

I took a drive down Hyde Park Ave and have a look-see today, and I think I hit the jackpot. The hybrid street/satellite map I have posted above shows what I found. The map shows Hyde Park Ave, south of Forest Hills and Walk Hill St. To orient yourself, find Hyde Park Ave and the parallel railroad tracks to the left, running from top to bottom. The green arrow points to 320 Hyde Park Ave. Then notice in the upper left, on the west side of the tracks, is the curving Brookway Terrace that borders the Archdale housing projects. Hmmm... that's an interesting name!

Now look at the two ball fields that sit in between the railroad tracks and Hyde Park Ave (look for the green grass).The north border of the fields (just south of Dellmore Rd) cuts at a sharp angle to Hyde Park Ave, and the asphalt walkway along the fence just happens to line up with Brookway Terrace on the other side of the tracks. When I see an angled property line like that, I begin to think I may be on to something.

I parked along the street and walked in along the north edge of the park. As I approached the railroad tracks, I found a manhole cover in the grass. Getting warmer! When I walked to the edge of the railroad property, I noticed a stone wall in front of me. This appears to be the ony place along the low train embankment that has a wall. Right at the wall I see that the stone is arched just above ground level. The picture shows the arch. There is a rolled up section of chain link fence on the ground that gives some idea of the size of the wall and arch. I could have fit down under the arch if I went feet first. There is a pile of trash going down into the... what do I call it? I had a flashlight, and was able to look inside. The trash angled down several feet to what looked like a sand surface. No light showed through from the other side of the tracks. And with the trash - wood, carpet, household stuff - at the mouth of the arched entrance, I couldn't tell if my end connected to an underground culvert or if it was just a dead end.

Now I have Brookway Terrace (an extention of Brookway Rd), which follows just about the route I expected Stony Brook to run coming south from Forest Hills. I have the angled property line, which I suspected had been laid out at the time the brook was on the surface. I have a manhole in the corner of a park, and I have a stone tunnel under the tracks that looks to be as old as the stone wall that once lined the embankment of the train tracks through Jamaica Plain. But wait... there's more! Take a look at the satellite picture/map again. Follow that angled property line I talked about from the railroad tracks to Hyde Park Ave. Now extend it across the street - it lines up just south of Southbourne Rd. Extend the line to the lower right at Florian St. Notice how it just about forms the property line between the houses on Wyvern and the curving end of Wachusett Sts? Athough you can't see it in this picture, it is clear standing on the sidewalk of Hyde Park Ave that the two property lines on opposite sides of Hyde Park Ave do line up pretty well with each other.

Throughout Jamaica Plain, the Sanford maps show that property lines were often drawn to follow Stony Brook. Examples of this can be seen on the 1874 map that's shown above. Both Cantebury and Stony Brooks form property lines between both large and single-house plots.There are two puzzles in the 1874 map that I only recognized after my trip today. First, Canterbury Brook seems to go under a street between Florence (today's Florian) and Hyde Park Ave. Comparing this map and a modern street map like the one shown here, I'm pretty sure that what appears to be a street on the Sanford map is just the property line I pointed out above. I needed to print out both maps and compare them in hand to convince myself, but now I'm quite sure. The second puzzle in the 1874 map is the dog-leg route of Cantebury Brook as is crosses the path of the railroad tracks. Why would it have been changed? I dunno. I'm afraid I've run out of ideas here. I still don't have proof that Canterbury Brook actually flows through the tunnel I found. If it does, is the culvert under the sand surface I saw in the tunnel? Did they start with a tunnel and then deepen it later and put it underground - even under the tunnel? I may have to get down inside the tunnel to check it out. Hmmm... that's a little spooky.

Note: 9/28 - I went back and took a look at the tunnel. Having learned that there was a Brookway Footpath at right about this site, I needed to do some exploring. I brought a flashlight and crawled into the tunnel. There is a nice flat floor, although it's covered with dirt. At the other (west) side, I could see the arch, but it was filled in and is hidden from view on the outside. I can only assume that this was the Footpath. It could be that the current passage under the tracks follows the old dog-leg path mentioned above. There are houses with back yards along the tracks, so I may not be able to poke around to check this out.