1 Country Way, Scituate, MA 02066, USA
Owned By: Scituate Historical Society
Pocket park managed by Scituate Historical Society. Views of the First Herring Brook and historic water-driven mill and dam. Cross the street to Old Oaken Bucket Pond to view the fish ladder and the spring migration of herring.
Located just off the rotary at #1 Country Way, the Stockbridge Mill might be the oldest water driven mill in the United States.
According to the Scituate Historical Society, “In 1640 Isaac Stedman dammed the First Herring Brook and built a sawmill beside the pond. Around 1650, John Stockbridge built the currently standing gristmill. Much of the machinery now in the mill was installed by Stockbridge.”
“The nether mill stone, the gate wheel, the crane and large wooden screw for lifting the mill stone, and the cast iron gears are original. The upper level over the spillway contains the millstones, and originally it stood even with the road to facilitate the handling of grain. The lower level contains a bin and platform where the meal was bagged and delivered to the owner through an opening in the side of the building.”
“The Stockbridge and Clapp families owned and operated the mill until 1922 when William H. Clapp conveyed it to the Scituate Historical Society.In 1970 the mill was restored to working condition and corn was ground during the time the mill was open for several historical tours. One and two pound bags of cornmeal were prepared and sold at that time.Late in 2012 a pocket park was created at the site with help from an Eagle Scout project.”
Tributaries: First Herring Brook flows to the Herring River, which flows into the North River near The Spit.
Habitats and Wildlife
The dam that originally was built for powering the mill now serves to store water in Old Oaken Bucket Pond for drinking water supply in Scituate. First Herring Brook was the original stream that was dammed. The fish ladder there allows river herring to pass into Old Oaken Bucket Pond as well as to upstream habitats in the First Herring Brook and an additional drinking water reservoir, also upstream. The fish run here is undergoing restoration in a partnership with the NSRWA, MassBays, MassDER and the town of Scituate.
The Town of Scituate receives 80% of its municipal water supply from the First Herring Brook watershed. The town reservoir and the withdrawal site for the water supply, Old Oaken Bucket Pond (a.k.a. Greenbush Pond), are part of First Herring Brook. Increasing summertime water withdrawals have impacted natural stream flows, limiting the brook’s ability to support migratory fish like herring.
Since 2007, the Town of Scituate has worked with the NSRWA and our partners to create a multi-pronged approach to balancing municipal water demand and ecological flow requirements, with the end goal of restoring more natural conditions and providing adequate flow for herring migration. Since implementing streamflow releases over the dams and through the fish ladders, our herring counters have documented small numbers of fish each spring after decades of no herring at all. Streamflow releases in the summer and fall continue to compete with water demand by the town. Summertime water conservation is key to restoring and maintaining life in the First Herring Brook.
Historic Site: Yes
Boat Launch: No
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Parking: On-site parking.
Trail Difficulty: Easy
Boat Ramp: No
Scenic Views: Yes