Owned By: Town of Scituate
Old Oaken Bucket Pond is one of two reservoirs on the First Herring Brook created by dams. The Town of Scituate draws its municipal water from Old Oaken Bucket Pond. The upstream reservoir, simply known as the reservoir, feeds Old Oaken Bucket Pond downstream.
Both ponds have fish ladders for herring at their dams. Unfortunately, the herring run is quite depleted, in part due to the competition for water in the summertime between man and nature. However the NSRWA and the Town of Scituate have been working together to improve streamflows, operate the fish ladders, and restore the fisheries at these sites. This restoration project will ensure adequate water supply for the town, while also supporting wildlife.
Herring counts are ongoing at the Old Oaken Bucket fish ladder between April 1st and the end of May. Stop by and you might just see some fish!
Old Oaken Bucket Pond is named for a poem written by Samual Woodworth, published in 1817. A Scituate native, Woodworth was the editor of the New York Mirror. His nostalgic poem about his childhood home brought him, and Scituate, to national acclaim. The original homestead is located on Old Oaken Bucket Road, but it has since been renovated.
This is the first verse of the poem:
How dear to this heart are the scenes of my childhood,
When fond recollection present them to view!
The orchard, the meadow, the deep-tangled wild-wood,
And every loved spot which my infancy knew!
The wide-spreading pond, and the mill that stood by it,
The bridge, and the rock where the cataract fell,
The cot of my father, the dairy-house nigh it,
And E’en the rude bucket that hung in the well-
The old oaken bucket, the iron-bound bucket,
The moss-covered bucket which hung in the well.
In 1935, the poem became Scituate's official town song.
Old Oaken Bucket Pond was the site of a rare local battle during King Philip’s War. When the European colonists first came to the South Shore in the 1620s, the area’s Native American tribes had been nearly decimated by smallpox. However by the 1670s, the aboriginal population had rebounded. Noting that the colonists were trying to drive them away, Chief Metacomet of the Wampanoag, aka King Philip, began uniting area tribes to fight back.
A Colonial army was assembled –1,000 militia men, including 27 from Scituate. Led by Governor Josiah Winslow and General James Cudworth, they attacked the Narragansetts in November 1675, burning villages throughout Rhode Island. The native tribes retaliated by setting fire to Providence, among others. More than half of New England’s towns were attacked. Twelve towns in the Plymouth and Rhode Island colonies were destroyed, with many more damaged. Because of the war, the colonial economy was nearly ruined, and one tenth of the men eligible for military service (age 16-60) were killed. Ultimately the colonists prevailed, and the Wampanoag and Narragansett tribes were nearly destroyed.
Here’s how it played out locally: King Philip had made raids on Weymouth, Middleborough, and Bridgewater. Because of this, in Scituate, a watch with “fixed armes and suitable ammunition” had been set up by the youths and older men who remained in town. On May 19th 1676, a band of Narragansetts and Nipmucks began an attack in Hingham, burning five houses. They proceeded the next day into Hanover, Norwell and Scituate, destroying 13 houses, a sawmill, and probably ten barns.
The battle culminated at the fort by Stockbridge’s Mill at Greenbush. The stockade faced the highway and was protected from behind by Old Oaken Bucket Pond. The fight lasted all day. Cornet Robert Stetson (age 64 at the time) and Isaac Chittenden, who was later killed in the fight, led the colonial force, and ultimately succeeded in fending off the attackers.
Habitats and Wildlife
After leaving Old Oaken Bucket Pond, First Herring Brook enters the Herring River at the Driftway, and flows from there into the North River.
This fish ladder at Old Oaken Bucket Pond connects the estuarine Herring River downstream to the First Herring Brook impoundments (ponds made by dams) upstream. The impoundments are reservoirs for the town of Scituate’s drinking water supply.
There are two dams and two fish ladders on the First Herring Brook. From the ocean, the first dam is at Old Oaken Bucket Pond off of the Route 3A rotary. Unfortunately, this is a run whose population is so low that you are unlikely to see fish – that being said you might get lucky! The NSRWA has been working with the town to restore this fish run since 2007 and to conserve water in the summertime when water demand can more than double to improve the success rate of streamflow releases in the fall.
We are also working with the town to make the upper reservoir fish ladder operational and improve the town’s drought resiliency by raising the reservoir. Stay tuned as we continue to work on this important project.
Historic Site: Yes
Boat Launch: No
Size: 10 acres
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Parking: Parking for 3-4 cars, across the street at the Stockbridge Mill. Additional parking, off Route 3A, at the Scituate Water Department.
Facilities: There is a small park near the rotary with benches and a clock.
Dogs: Leashes and prompt waste pick-up recommended, given that this is the town's water supply!
Boat Ramp: No
ADA Access: No
Scenic Views: Yes