Peterson’s Sawmill Pond

595 Congress St, Duxbury, MA 02332, USA

Town of Duxbury: 781-934-1100

Owned By: Town of Duxbury

Peterson’s Sawmill Pond is a small but picturesque pond on Route 14 in Duxbury, suitable for fishing and paddling. There is a small island in the middle. The pond is located between Congress Street, Franklin Street, and Union Bridge Road, and between two sections of the 344-acre Lansing Bennett Forest. The Bay Circuit Trail passes by the pond’s western shore.


In the 1730s, Reuben Peterson (1710-1795) dammed Phillips Brook to power a sawmill, creating this pond. Look behind the Ashdod Fire Station to see the mill’s foundation stones. The dam is right underneath today’s Congress Street (Route 14).

In her book, Settlement and Growth of Duxbury 1628-1870, Dorothy Wentworth describes it as “the usual up and down type mill.” It ran for many years, but like Howlands Mill (upstream within Lansing Bennett Forest), it suffered from insufficient water supply. According to Wentworth, an agreement in the Town Records of 1772 says, in part, “Reuben Peterson will pay Consider Smith a shilling a year for the privilege of maintaining a ditch across the Simmons land through which to bring an additional supply of water from a stream draining out of Black Friar Swamp. The ditch can be viewed at the Ashdod Triangle, around the corner.

Prior to European contact, the Mattakeeset band of the Massachuseuk (or Massachusett) Native American tribe lived for thousands of years in the North River watershed. Their village included most of today’s Pembroke and Hanson. Meanwhile the Patuxet band of the Wampanoag tribe inhabited the Jones River watershed, and the area now known as Kingston, Plymouth and Duxbury. This property lies within the upper portion of the South River watershed — right between those two territories. It’s possible that both tribes utilized the area.

To learn more about local Native American tribes, we encourage you to interact with their members. The Mashpee Wampanoag, the Herring Pond Wampanoag, the Mattakeeset band of the Massachusett, and the Massachusett tribe at Ponkapoag all share information on their websites.

Trail Description

No trails, but you can walk for a short distance along the water’s edge on Route 14. Extend your walk in the Lansing Bennett Forest, a short distance to the west and south of the pond.

Habitats and Wildlife

The pond is surrounded by pine and oak forest. Phillips Brook flows through the pond and continues northeast into the Camp Wing Conservation Area, where it flows into the South River.

The South River originates deep in Duxbury. Its source is in the Round Pond area, and from there it winds unobtrusively through the woods for several miles. Although one can view it from Route 3, and also from both the South River Bog and the Camp Wing Conservation Area, it remains a narrow and mostly un-navigable stream until just below Veterans Memorial Park. From there it flows through South River Park, behind the playground of South River School, and under the Willow Street and Francis Keville Bridges. Wider at that point, and navigable at most tides, its course winds through the marshes as it runs parallel to Route 139, all the way to Rexhame. From there the river turns northward. It flows for 3 miles between Humarock and the mainland to Fourth Cliff, where it joins the North River at its outlet to the sea.

  • A photograph of a pond surrounded by trees with a small island at its center.
  • A photograph of a forest trail leading to a pond.
  • A photograph of a pond with trees on one side.
  • A photograph of a trail through a pine forest, extending to the edge of a pond.
  • A photograph of a pond surrounded by trees with a small island at its center.
  • A photograph of a roadside pulloff surrounded by trees.
595 Congress St, Duxbury, MA 02332, USA

Historic Site: No

Park: No

Beach: No

Boat Launch: Yes

Lifeguards: No

Hours: Dawn to dusk.

Parking: Limited roadside parking, in varying locations, for 5-6 cars

Cost: Free

Trail Difficulty: Medium

Dogs: Dogs must remain on leash. Scoop the poop!

Boat Ramp: No

ADA Access: No

Scenic Views: Yes

Waterbody/Watershed: Phillips Brook (South River watershed)

Other Things to Do at This Site