"You could not step twice into the same rivers;
for other waters are ever flowing on to you." - Heraclitus
A Mystic River Timeline
10,000 BCE Paleo-Indians net alewives each spring.
1,000 BCE Indigenous peoples of the Nipmac, Massachusett and Wompanoag's form into tribes.
1600s New federation of Indian tribes calls themselves Massachusetts.
1616-19 Nanepashemet (the new moon), sachem of the Massachusetts federation, abandons his coastal lodges and goes up the Mystic due to inter-tribal warfare. In 1619 he dies during fighting with the Tarrantine tribe.
1631 Gov. John Winthrop builds and launches the ship Blessing of the Bay in Somerville.
1637 Craddock bridge built. Until 1787, it was the main overland route from the north to Boston.
1640 European settlers in Charlestown move to 'Mystic Side', now Malden.
Penny ferry operates from Malden to Boston.
1650-1750 Clay from the Mystic riverbanks is used for brick manufacture.
1715 The start of rum-making in Medford uses spring water from the Mystic.
1793 John Hancock approves a canal to be built from "the waters of the Merrimack River to the waters of Medford River".
1803 Middlesex Canal completed connecting Merrimack River to Boston Harbor. On Boston Avenue, the wooden aqueduct over the Mystic and the Gilson Locks are engineering marvels of the day.
1804 John Langdon Sullivan converts a canal towboat into a steamboat on the Mystic Lakes.
1812 Shipyards located near Riverside Avenue are at peak period of operation. "Medford-built" becomes synonymous with high quality shipbuilding. 568 ships were built here including extraordinary clipper ships. The 200-300 ton clippers, lighter and faster than most ships, gain acceptance in the shallow waters of the Pacific Northwest.
1829 Peak operation of the Middlesex Canal.
1844 Medford resident Lydia Maria Child writes ÒOver the River and Through the WoodÓ ("the River", of course, is the Mystic).
1845 Twenty-five per cent of all Massachusetts shipbuilders are employed in Medford.
1859 Middlesex Canal closes as railroads and steamships gain popularity.
1868 Gypsy Moths escape while Prof. Trouvelot experimented with silk manufacture in Medford. Tree devastation follows (see 1889).
1870 The Mystic Lakes Water system is developed by Charlestown and added to the Boston system when Charlestown is annexed.
1873 Joshua Foster Boatyard's "Pilgrim" is the last ship launched from the Medford boatyards.
1875 The last shipyard closes.
1878 The Mystic Lakes water supply is conveyed to a pump station located near Alewife Brook and the Mystic Valley Parkways and is pumped to a covered reservoir at Tufts University which still exists (under the green, no longer in use).
1880 Current Craddock Bridge constructed in Medford Square.
1889 First large Gypsy Moth devastation of trees, treatment includes spraying with oil and cutting. (see 1868)
1892 Charles Eliot, Landscape Architect, proposes acquiring land along the Mystic River for a reservation.
1893 Metropolitan Park Commission forms, creating Mystic River Reservation and several other parks around metro Boston.
1894 The Massachusetts legislature passes the Boulevard Act, leading to the building of parkways in the state. The Mystic Valley Parkway is built shortly thereafter.
1895 Metropolitan Park Commission acquires continuous strip of land in Medford and Winchester. Work on the Mystic Valley Parkway paved road begins.
1898 Land along the Mystic River acquired by Metropolitan Park Commission for public use. The banks of the Mystic today are almost entirely publicly owned.
1905 Last rum distillery closes. One of three, the distillery uses spring water from the Mystic watershed as its "special ingredient".
1908 The Craddock dam is constructed and the Mystic River is no longer a tidal river. With the end of the tides upriver, the riverbanks take on their current appearance, as marshland disappears, and trees and bushes take root.
1908 Alewife Brook in Cambridge is relocated to its current position. Little River is culverted.
1926 Mystic Iron Works in Everett opens, the only blast furnace in New England at the time.
1927 Current Winthrop Street Bridge in Medford is constructed.
1929 Alewife Brook Parkway built and Brook is straightened, esp. upstream of Broadway Ave in Arlington.
1933-34 State Highway Route 2 constructed
1936 'New' Wellington Bridge is constructed.
1958-64 Interstate Route 93 constructed. The bends in the Mystic are 'straightened' along Mystic Ave.
1960s Gravelly Creek is buried from Valley Street to the river. This creek often flooded nearby Webster and Tufts Streets.
1966 Amelia Earhart dam is constructed in Somerville, replacing the Craddock dam's function.
1970 Mystic River Watershed Association forms.
1984 Mass. Water Resource Authority created to provide water and sewer services to 61 Boston-area communities. It oversees the combined sewer overflows (CSOs) that dump sewerage a few times a year into the Alewife Brook and Mystic River during heavy rain.
1995 Friends of the Mystic River in Medford forms.
2010 Swimming and fishing ok'd for the Mystic River. Two thousand new native plants adorn the banks.