"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.

 

1630                First European, Matthew Craddock, settles in Medford.

 

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.