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Cranberry Bog

Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years, 2 months ago
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Cranberry Bog (310 acres - 151 in Carlisle and 159 in Chelmsford)
Access: Curve Street and Fiske and Elm Streets in Chelmsford.
Parking: Curve Street in Carlisle; at trail entrance on Fiske Street in Chelmsford.
Native Americans harvested wild Massachusetts cranberries for hundreds of years. Recorded cultivation began around 1816 in natural bogs near Cape Cod. With bog building, cranberry growing was widespread by the late 1840s and early 1850s. In 1903, James and W. Clifford Nickles bought the bog land and water to grow cranberries. By the 1980s, this property, half of which lies in Carlisle and half in Chelmsford, belonged to Lowell Cranberry Company. In 1986, the towns purchased their respective sections of the bog for open space, conservation, and recreation. The Carlisle section along Curve Street includes 40 acres of working cranberry bog and has a grid of packed dirt roads. Agricultural rights are leased to a local farmer, and the barn, which is part of the lease, houses vintage cranberry farming equipment(2). The land consists of many acres of wooded uplands and wetland with several large ponds that serve as reservoirs for irrigation and flooding. The wet harvest each fall, with the flooded beds covered with bright red floating berries is one of the most striking sights you'll see as you travel this area enjoying the fall colors.
The area is rich in birds and wildlife, with frequent signs of beaver, fox, muskrat, mink, and otter activity. Swallows, Bobolinks, Herons, and Spotted Sandpipers visit each season as well as other birds. The wide-open vistas make this a good place to watch migrating hawks in the fall. When snow falls, cross Curve Street and follow Otter Brook Trail alongside Great Brook and look for otter slides. Otter Brook Trail meets Old Morse Road, which continues south via the Transfer Station and Conant Land all the way to city hall.
A perpetual "work in progress," the bog includes a sandpit on the south side of Curve Street that is excavated for sanding the bog(1) and earthmoving equipment continually grades and builds up beds layer by layer, adding canals for irrigation and flooding to protect the berries from cold or to harvest them. Renovations occasionally affect the condition of trails on the dikes, but there always seems to be a way to get from one end or the other and the well-packed roads make this area reasonably accessible for visitors in wheelchairs or strollers.
The main woodland trail reached by crossing either dike, entering the woods and briefly following the Tenneco pipeline, before taking a ninety degree turn away from the bog. This wide and flat trail offers easy passage with extensive wetland and shoreline access. A number of beaver dams and lodges are visible in the Chelmsford section. Please remember that the bog produces food and keep dogs off all planted areas.

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