Hoyt-Hall Preserve - Marshfield, MA

 

A COOPERATIVE EFFORT

Wildlands Trust / Town of Marshfield / Historic Winslow House Association

Hoyt-Hall Preserve was created in 2000 when Wildlands Trust purchased this expansive open space to protect it from development. In partnership with the Town of Marshfield and the Historic Winslow House Association, the Trust utilized DCR Recreational Trail Program funding to put in place a trail system that connects these adjacent conservation lands for your use and enjoyment.

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PRE-COLONIAL HISTORY:

Before the European settlers arrived, Wampanoag who wintered around Lakeville and Middleboro made their summer encampment in this area. At that time, Long Tom Pond and the marshes were a continuation of tidal Duxbury Bay. Many well-used trails crossed the area; some later became colonial roadways.

COLONIAL PERIOD:

This land was part of a grant given to Gov. Edward Winslow in the 1630s. As settlers followed and families expanded, the property was subdivided. Colonists cleared the forests for agriculture and for the prized oak and white pine used for shipbuilding. A dam was built to impound the upper part of the freshwater-fed pond. Later, Careswell Street isolated both parts from the salty bay, creating the freshwater system that exists today.

MORE RECENT HISTORY:

Farming continued into the last century. Wetlands were modified for cranberry bogs. As modernization took hold, agriculture faded. The abandoned bogs reverted to forested swamp, and upland forests once again dominate the landscape.

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NATURAL HISTORY:

The varied topography of the preserve was shaped by the same retreating glacier that carved out the Cape and Islands some 14,000 years ago, creating dramatic eskers, lowlands, uplands, and depressions. Swamps,  ponds, forests, and the once tidal marshes characterize the landscape.

PONDS AND MARSHEs:

The freshwater pond and marsh ecosystem supports a wide array of both aquatic and avian plant and animal species—possibly including the rare American bittern.

UPLAND FOREST:

A young forest of white pine and mixed deciduous trees (mostly oak & maple) blankets the uplands, replacing old-growth trees cleared in the colonial era. Small and large forest mammals (including deer, coyote, mice and rabbits), many species of birds, plants, insects and fungi thrive in the canopy and under-story.

FORESTED WETLANDS:

In the northeast portion of the preserve, several abandoned cranberry bogs are now well along in the successional process to red maple swamps. They host a variety of plants, amphibians and invertebrates, many of which depend on the seasonally wet habitat to survive.

AQUIFER PROTECTION:

Town of Marshfield’s Conservation Commission and Water Department own abutting property that protect open space and the town’s drinking water supply.

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PILGRIM TRAIL:

Pilgrim Trail, which skirts the border of the preserve, was originally a Wampanoag coastal route. In 1637, it became the first court ordered road in Plymouth Colony—and possibly the country. At that time, the Pilgrims knew it as Green’s Harbor Path. Neighborhood signs mark the trail’s former route. Many sections are still intact and walkable.

KING PHILIP’S PATH:

Originally used by the Wampanoag to reach shellfishing grounds at Wharf Creek, the trail once cut through the preserve. It was named after Metacomet, the Wampanoag Chief who adopted the English name “King Philip.”

OLD CARESWELL STREET:

Named for Edward Winslow’s ancestral home “Kerswell” in Worcestershire, England, Old Careswell Street fell out of use when the road was improved and straightened in the 1930s. Where it diverges from the the current Careswell Street, vestiges still remain and can be traced through Hoyt-Hall preserve. A section of the old roadway makes up the raised causeway that runs along the ponds.

OLD COLONY RAILROAD:

In 1871, the Duxbury and Cohasset railroad was extended to Marshfield, and became the Old Colony Railroad in 1878. The last train ran in 1939, after the causeway over the North River was damaged by the hurricane of 1938. Today, the rail bed is a walking trail open to the public.