A Hike and a History Lesson

Posted By on May 28, 2017

A Hike and a History Lesson

5.4 miles; West Greenwich, RI

Today’s hike was with the PCHC and a leader I’ve never hiked with before who took us on an exploration of Big River, and even gave us a history lesson, complete with visual aids. It was an excellent hike/talk. For background on Big River, read this Providence Journal article:

Kevin Breene’s childhood home would have been under 60 feet of water by now.

When he was 9, the state condemned his family’s farm, just one parcel among 8,600 acres bought from 351 owners for the Big River Reservoir — planned since 1928 as a drinking water backup for the Scituate Reservoir. He was 13 when they had to move, believing that construction was months away.

It has been 50 years since West Greenwich land was taken by eminent domain. The reservoir was never built.

It’s kind of sad story.

Sign at Trailhead

Sign at Trailhead

This weirdly-decorated sign at the trailhead is on Route 3, Nooseneck Hill Road, just south of Exit 6 off 95.

Current Resident

Current Resident

We came across this big lady in the middle of the road just as we passed the second (closed) gate. Can’t a pregnant turtle get any privacy around here???

Capwell Pond Dam

Capwell Mill Pond Dam

There are quite a few dammed ponds on the Management Area. Sawmills were apparently the dominant industry in the area. This is Capwell Mill Pond, and the water was roaring over it today.

Old Cemetery

Old Cemetery

According to the Journal article, there are something like 700 graves on this property in many little family cemeteries. This stone was only labeled “SB 1775.”

Sweet's "Pond"

Sweet’s “Pond”

A few years ago, this used to be an actual pond, but the RI DEM destroyed the dam, creating a meadow instead, with a meandering stream.

Track (click for details)

Track (click for details)

There are no “officially” blazed trails on this 8600-acre property, but TONS of unofficial little trails everywhere, as you can see from the Open Hiking Map, above. I recommend you don’t venture here without a map of some sort (Great Swamp Press has a nice one, although it probably doesn’t have every little trail on it), or a GPS track to follow. You can download mine by clicking on the image, above.

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