Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Maps Tell the Tale

Geological Survey, 1890 (copyright © 2000 by Cartography Associates)
David Rumsey Collection

Sampson Murdock, 1888 (copyright © 2000 by Cartography Associates)
David Rumsey Collection.

I've put up both segments of historical maps and links to the originals. The Sampson Murdock map from 1888 and the Geologic Survey map from 1890 show the extent of Stony Brook. To the east, the brook wraps around Forest Hills Cemetery and approaches Blue Hill Ave. The southernmost source comes out of Turtle Pond, listed as Muddy Pond on early maps. In West Roxbury, the brook is shown near the train station at Centre St. across from Holy Name Church. The Allandale Woods branch (Bussey or Sawmill Brook) begins near Brookline and the West Roxbury Pky/V.F.W. Pky rotary. To the northwest, Goldsmith Brook sources in the Arnold Arboretum and from between Prince and Rockwood Sts. Now the concerns about flooding in Jamaica Plain and Roxbury make sense. While many of these tributaries may have been dry in August, during heavy rains and in the spring thaw, everything north of Bellvue Hill in West Roxbury drained into our Stony Brook. A spring walk through the Blue Hills in Milton will demonstrate how dry stream beds can fill and collect into temporary ponds overnight. When I imagine Hyde Park, West Roxbury, Roslindale and Jamaica Plain covered in trees, pastures and fields similar to the Blue Hills reservation today, the need to contain Stony Brook makes perfect sense. Now I know why I was born blocks away from the brook and didn't know the story of its existence until recently.

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