Back River Trail, Weymouth

Here’s a map of the Back River Trail:

Here’s another map of the Back River Trail:

I started the Back River Trail at the southern end, in Iron Hill Park. There’s parking in and around Iron Hill Park, a couple of historic buildings (probably mills), a stream, and a fish ladder. I was there in mid-April, and the river was thick with alewives.

Then I cycled past Herring Run Pool Park. I saw several ospreys in Osprey Overlook Park, and heard reports of eagles. I went through Great Esker Park to Abigail Adams State Park, then I took a detour to Great Hill Park. Last stop: Webb Memorial State Park. At Webb, I saw the Donald Haviland Memorial:

In February 1945, SS Henry Bacon, an American Liberty Ship in which Chief Engineer Haviland was serving, departed from Murmansk, North Russia carrying Norwegian war refugees. A few days later during a heavy gale, the vessel was forced to drop out of convoy RA 64 to effect repairs to her steering gear. The ship was then attacked by twenty-three German planes. The Henry Bacon shot down several planes and damaged others, but received one hit which caused her to founder.

The lifeboats were filled with all of the Norwegians and some crew members, but could not accommodate all remaining personnel. When this situation became known to Chief Engineer Haviland, he insisted on climbing back on board ship, giving his place in the lifeboat to a younger man. Shortly thereafter he went down with the ship.

Below is a map showing points of interest in Weymouth. I marked House Rock with an “R” and Herring Run Park with an “H” and Great Esker Park with a “G” and a possible branch of the esker with a “B” and the Abigail Adams Birthplace with an “A”.

House Rock is an enormous boulder, an enormous glacial erratic. It’s not as big as a house, it’s bigger. This geology site says that House Rock is composed of Quincy granite, unlike the bedrock around it. So it’s an erratic, it wandered from it’s “home bedrock” (in Quincy?) into a different bedrock. How the glacier could raise and transport such an enormous boulder is difficult to imagine. House Rock is probably the 2nd largest erratic in New England, behind the one in Madison, New Hampshire. While the Madison Boulder is partly underground, House Rock is entirely above ground.

Herring Run Park is a small city park, and parking isn’t easy. Signs at the park explain that the Blueback Herring and the Alewife are both called “herrings,” and both come upstream to Herring Run Park in the spring to spawn. They look alike, but one prefers warmer water and spawns somewhat later in the spring than the other. Fish that come upstream to spawn are called anadromous, from the Greek an (up) and drom (course, track, stream). Eels go downstream to the ocean to spawn, they’re called catadromous, from the Greek cat (down) and drom.

Great Esker Park is the home of North America’s largest esker, some 90 feet high. The esker is paved along the top, and it’s open to bikers as well as walkers. Eskers are formed by streams. I suspect that eskers have branches, just as streams have branches. I marked a possible “branch esker” with a “B”.

The Abigail Adams Birthplace is a small, humble house that probably started life with a Dutch roof. Then apparently an addition was built on the back, giving it the appearance of a saltbox. So now it’s a “Dutch saltbox.” Behind the house is a cemetery and a hill, but the view from the hilltop is blocked by trees, as is the view from King Oak Hill Park.