25 School St, Marshfield, MA 02050, USA
Owned By: Town of Marshfield
This 287 acre property protects five Marshfield town well sites. Furnace Brook flows through the long, narrow parcel from north to south. There is a 1.5-mile network of trails in the section between Pine and School Streets.
The Furnace Brook Watershed was the Town of Marshfield's first major conservation land acquisition. Efforts began in 1971 and culminated with the purchase of 224 acres in 1973. This involved separate negations with 40 different land owners! The property contains old stone walls that provide evidence of its agricultural past. The brook itself was known as Puddle Wharf Brook in earlier times.
In the 1800s on Furnace Brook Jesse Reed operated an elaborate nail manufacturing complex, which included a factory, a forge, a water wheel and a canal system. Also on Furnace Brook, from about 1838 - 1868, the Bonney family operated an iron furnace, taking advantage of bog iron ore deposits nearby.
Trailheads are located on School, Pine, Forest, and Main Streets. A formal trail network exists, but some sections are rugged at best. Carrying a map is strongly advised. There is a large loop at the center of the property, with spur trails leading to each of the trailheads.
Parking is not permitted at the School Street Pump Station.
There is another woodland trail network nearby, where the Marshfield High School Cross Country team holds its meets and practices. Look for the sign on Forest Street across from the entrance to the high school complex.
Habitats and Wildlife
Furnace Brook finds its source in springs located on from lands just south of Pine Street. It flows south along the base of Carolina Hill, through Furnace Pond and Parsons Pond, and eventually into the South River at a tiny property known as South River Junctions, just upstream of Veterans Memorial Park. Much of the land surrounding the brook is protected, either for conservation or water protection. This property is large, but currently there are trails only in a small portion of it. The southern portion is preserved as Sensitive Area.
You can view Furnace Brook itself from the spur trail connecting the central loop to Main Street. You can also see it along the trail, as it passes through the energy company's easement near the School Street section. It is also visible on Furnace Street. Look for the stone bridge abutments at the roadsides between Forest and Main Streets.
The Furnace Brook Watershed Conservation Area contains numerous pine trees, many that have sustained significant storm damage. Dotted among the pines are the occasional oak, holly, and yellow birch. Shrubs such as blueberry, raspberry, and swamp azalea are also common, as are ferns. There is also a noticeably large amount of moss. Watch for the occasional outcropping of granite -- or even quartz!
Historic Site: No
Boat Launch: No
Size: 287 acres
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Parking: Trailheads on School, Pine, Forest, and Main Streets. No formal parking area.
Trail Difficulty: Easy, Medium
Facilities: One bench.
Boat Ramp: No
ADA Access: No
Scenic Views: Yes