Looking for something to do this Earth Day weekend? Why not take a walk through history at Northborough's newest historical site: the Chapin Canal Site.
Located off the Yellick fisherman's access parking lot on Hudson St., the Chapin Canal site is the result of two years of effort by Troop 1 Eagle Scout candidate Harry Silverstein.
The Chapin Canal site highlights the effort needed to steer water flow from the Assabet River to power the works at the Chapin Mill. As noted on the Northborough Historical Commission’s website: “This mill was powered by the Assabet River, the bed of which lay several hundred yards away. A sluice, still well-defined today, conveyed water into and through the mill at Hudson and Coburn Streets. At various times, the mill produced cotton and woolen fabrics. In 1918, when it was the Whittaker Mill, fire partially destroyed it; the mill declined thereafter. Only part of the foundation exists today.”
Working with the Northborough Trails Committee (NTC), Silverstein’s Eagle scout project was to clear the old sluice ways so that area residents could walk down the canal and marvel at the remaining stone works used to guide the water to the mill.
After much planning, the first hands-on phase of the project was to clear the
nearly century worth of accumulated trees, tree limbs and vines that had over
grown the canal. NTC Chairman Bob Mihalek spent several days with a chainsaw
clearing away the larger trees and limbs. Additionally, Harry worked with NTC
Secretary Forest Lyford to construct an information kiosk now placed at the
start of the path. NTC volunteer Marielle Stone served as Harry’s mentor on the
Once the vegetation was cleared, a new obstacle was discovered: a large trash pile. Guesses are that the trash was a result of trucks dumping debris down the embankment from Hudson St. In any event, removing this large amount of trash was beyond the capabilities of the Trails Committee. Fortunately, the Northborough DPW was able to help us out by using some heavy equipment to remove the trash. In addition, they arranged some big boulders to clearly define the path. The DPW did an excellent job and without their help this project may have ground to a halt. Many thanks go out to the Northborough DPW.
Several weeks ago Harry once again organized his troop of volunteers to clear the remaining vegetation from the site so that folks can now easily walk from the start of the path at the Yellick parking area clear to the end of the path behind the water pumping station. About mid-way down the path are the impressive rectangular boulders used to steer the water to the mill.
So, if you’re looking to go out and do a bit of exploration (and learn about some of the history of Northborough in the process), head down Hudson St. to the Yellick parking area and talk a walk down the Chapin Canal site.