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A Hike Through Local History In Bow Ridge Reservation

A short day hike can cover centuries.

In early November, I had the opportunity to take a hike in the Bow Ridge Reservation area with Lynnfield residents Ruth McMahon and Carol Bartlett. The two shared many stories of life over the years on Ledge Road and the open spaces that comprise Bow Ridge, the Lynn Woods, and other areas.

One relic of this area's history is visible from the main path heading into the Bow Ridge Reservation. In a , I speculated that the ruined stone structure with a large chimney was something from the former Kallenberg Quarry. Not true. Instead, McMahon explained that the structure is the former hunting cabin of a Dr. Keenan from Lynn, which burned down decades ago.

McMahon's great-grandfather, Arthur Kallenberg, was an immigrant from Sweden who bought the Robin Rock quarry in Lynnfield around 1896, renamed it after himself, and ran it until his death in 1913. Kallenberg was a teacher in his native Sweden, and arrived in America in the 1860s, working at the Quincy Quarry at one point before buying the one in Lynnfield.

After that, McMahon's great-grandmother ran the quarry for another several years until late in the World War I era. Her great-grandmother is actually the one who gave the easement for the installation of power lines in the 1930s.

The former quarry went on to become Lynnfield conservation land in the 1960s. The property was in McMahon's family until 1965. In fact, at one point the Kallenberg Quarry was just one of three quarries operating in this immediate area.

According to McMahon, there is an old newspaper account describing an effort to blast out an area of one of the quarries to kill a large population of rattlesnakes. This particular quarry was considered the third quarry in the area and would later become home to the .

Moving in to the reservation, McMahon and Bartlett pointed out what locals used to call "" before it got more overgrown by trees. The large rock has the basic shape of a dog lying on the ground.

Another named rock in Bow Ridge is , a large boulder where over the years, people have been able to catch glimpses of the Boston skyline - although as trees have grown over the years, it's more practical to do this in the higher-up areas on the other side of the power lines. This rock is also home to by the U.S. Geodetic Survey. An accompanying photo of this marker suggests it has been there since at least the 1960s.

A former berm near Ledge Road was once reportedly called "Indian Ridge" by local old-timers, Arrowheads were reportedly found on the land currently occupied by the Lynnfield Commons apartment complex over the years, and one of the women recalled a past July Fourth parade where she and two friends were "Three Little Indians" from Indian Ridge.

Deeper into the woods on the other side of the power lines is another longtime relic of local history - the so-called . About 100 years ago, some iron bars were placed around the pits to keep people from falling in. Now, these things are basically a lawsuit waiting to happen. The pits are about six feet deep and are lined with an archaic-looking masonry, suggesting that early settlers built them with a trapping purpose in mind. Despite well-documented efforts from that era to rid the area of wolves, one thing about these pits is that they look a bit small to actually hold a wolf.

More recently, geocaching enthusiasts have reportedly been known to use this area. This pasttime involves hiding objects at a specific set of coordinates and then using GPS units to locate them.

Somewhere up around the pits, the remnants of an old stone structure can reportdly be found. On the other side of the reservation, more toward the Lynnbrook Road area, t. Bartlett and McMahon did not know the origins of these two structures though.

Over on the Lynn side of these woods sits the so-called "Pirate Dungeon," which actually does appear to have its roots in 17th Century pirate lore - apparently a pirate ship docked in Saugus some 300 years ago and several of the sailors were caught and executed - except for one man who escaped and lived out his days in the Dungeon Rock area. Local lore states that he was buried alive after an earthquake collapsed his den, sealing up what was reputed to be a sizeable treasure cache as well.

Those who study Bow Ridge Reservation on Google Maps will see a feature called "Nell's Pond." Growing up, McMahon and Bartlett recall skating on the pond - although now the pond is all but invisible behind a barrier of reeds and wetlands. As youngsters, the two also report that they were warned to avoid that area because of quicksand, although it's questionable whether there actually was any. This area was also once apparently once refered to as Frog Pond because of the many frog eggs that could be found there. Along with skating, area residents were also known to ride horses in this area heading toward Judge Road in Lynn.

Editor's Note: .

Do you have any information or memories to add? Post a comment in the box below!

Gerry MacDonald November 29, 2011 at 01:12 PM
Good job on Bow Ridge info.

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