When you hear about the Blue Hills Reservation, perhaps your mind immediately jumps to treks around Houghton’s Pond or the beautiful views from Great Blue Hill or the otter at the Trailside Museum. You might not know about some of the historic sites that are actually nested within the Blue Hills. Below, you’ll discover how to explore three historic sites. To learn more about each one, click on the link to the Blue Hills A-Live video.
Eliot Tower. Sure, you’ve hiked to the top of Great Blue and maybe even climbed to the top of Eliot Tower, but did you know that Eliot Tower was built over 70 years ago by the Civilian Conservation Corps, established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The tower was built to welcomed hikers and visitors to enjoy the great outdoors and appreciate the view. The name “Eliot” recognizes Charles Eliot, a landscape architect instrumental in creating the Blue Hills Reservation and known for the conceptual design of Boston’s famous esplanade along the Charles River. Eliot Tower was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
Lyon’s Turning Mill and Quincy Quarries. Perhaps you’ve ventured along the Quincy side of the Blue Hills to see the old stone faces that remain at Quincy Quarries or watched the rock climbers scale the cliffs. But you may not know that this area has a rich history of producing and manufacturing granite rock that was used across the country in building, and famously, for being used in the monument at Bunker Hill. Lyon’s Turning Mill, just adjacent to the current border of the Blue Hills, was one of the earliest quarries in Quincy, established in 1825. Granite was shipped from all over the country to be turned and was then shipped out. The Quincy Quarries are no longer running, however this part of the park is a popular site to visit for recreational activities such as rock climbing and picnicking. In fact, it is also a popular movie filming location and appear in films such as Gone Baby Gone (2007) and The Invention of Lying (2009).
Brian T. Broderick Stable on Hillside Rd. If you’ve driven near Houghton’s Pond, you’ve probably noticed the large stable next to the police station on Hillside Street. Just a couple years ago, the stable was an eye sore, with a dilapidated roof and crumbling walls. This unique historic structure, built in 1908, is slowly being restored with the goal of eventually returning it to it’s historic use of housing horses used by park system’s mounted unit. The mounted units, reinstated in 2008, are an integral part of the Park Ranger system and these amazing horses are capable of serving the citizens in many ways. These horses provide Park Rangers with mobility and visual aid in patrols, their sensitive ears are a guide for rescues, and they are ambassadors helping to connect the community to the Park Ranger team.
So next time you are heading to the Blue Hills, whether it’s to have a picnic near Houghton’s Pond or hike the Skyline trail, you can also pay a visit to check out the places in the park that have played an important role in our history.