67 Elm St, Kingston, MA 02364, USA
Owned By: Town of Kingston
Woodland trails and a view of the Jones River, where a dam once stood.
52 acres of this property became public in 1950. An additional 100 acres were purchased in 1963, when the park was named for Elizabeth Sampson. At the time, it was called Sampson Common and Memorial Forest, and was given to the town by Eliza Faunce and the Lot Phillips Company. Additional acreage was acquired later. Look for old stone walls and glacial erratic boulders in the woods.
Elizabeth Sampson was born in Kingston in 1868. Her family was well-established in the area, and could trace its ancestors back to such local historic figures as Gov. William Bradford, Captain Myles Standish, and William Brewster. Sampson left significant bequests to Kington-based organizations and projects, and she is remembered not only with this park, but with the Elizabeth B. Sampson fund, which provides funding for community improvement projects.
Dams existed at this site for centuries. Originally they were seasonal, removed at times to permit migratory fish to swim upstream. In the 1920s, concrete dam was installed, both to provide a water supply for the town, and to power milling operations (such as a tack factory, a sawmill, and a clothing mill) across the street at what is now the Jones River Trading Company. The mill was shut down in thee 1960s by the Environmental Protection Agency, due to the pollution it caused (releasing fabric dye into the river).
The concrete dam may have helped industry to thrive, but it also harmed the river system, not only preventing fish passage, but also causing “impairments” such as low oxygen, high nutrients, and excessive vegetation. With its removal, fish populations will slowly become restored and other wildlife will benefit from the increased food supply. Water quality will improve as well.
A trail extends from the parking area, runs along the edge of the marsh, and continues for quite a distance through the woods. There are several intersections, with spurs through both upland and wetland, to various points on the perimeter. One trail continues across Furnace Brook, all the way to South Street. A section of the Bay Circuit Trail runs through the property. Be aware of hunting seasons, and wear orange during these times, as hunting is permitted on the property.
Habitats and Wildlife
The dam at Elm Street was removed in 2019, thus the riverbed and surrounding wetlands are very much in transition. Some older maps indicate the presence of Jones River Reservoir here, but now that the dam is gone, the river flows freely. Removal of the dam restores habitat for species such as alewife and blueback herring, as well as rainbow smelt. There are 3 certified vernal pools on the property, and numerous wetlands. The forest is primarily pine, with some maple, birch, oak and holly.
The Jones River finds its source at Silver Lake and other brooks and springs in Pembroke, Halifax and Kingston. It flows for 7.5 miles through Kingston, and drains into the Atlantic Ocean at Kingston Bay just downstream of this property.
Historic Site: No
Boat Launch: No
Size: 200 acres
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Parking: Limited on-site parking on Elm Street.
Trail Difficulty: Easy
Informational kiosk and signage, picnic tables, benches, dog waste bags, observation platform, and a Little Free Library station.
Boat Ramp: No
ADA Access: No
Scenic Views: Yes