A few posts ago I talked bout the Herring run in Middleboro but was stumped when asked what the ruins were. So I returned to the park today and learned that it’s official name is Oliver Mill Park. There is a large display board next to the parking lot before you reach the picnic area that has a sign and copies of several articles about the area and the herring run.
The sign says:
“Oliver Mill Park
“The Muttock area has a history of occupation and use that dates to the early Archaic Period, attracting Native Americans who came to fish in the Nemasket River and who probably established a small village nearby. In 1734 a dam was built across the Nemasket River here, replacing an old native fish weir.
“Between 1744 and 1776, Peter Oliver, an important provincial Tory official and judge, as well as an industrial entrepreneur, operated an ironworks that included one of the earliest rolling and splitting mills in New England. Oliver’s works dominated Middleborough’s early economy and were significant for the degree to which they exploited the power of the Nemasket River, using as many as eight water wheels to run an integrated cluster of iron works, grist, saw, and other water powered mills.
“After 1800 the site was converted into a shovel shop under the ownership of General Abel Washburn and operated into the 1840s.
“Following the abandonment of the site in the 1870s the area was largely ignored until the 1960s and 1970s when it was partially restored for recreational purposes. Oliver Mill Park survives as one of the most significant industrial archaeological sites in Middleborough and in the southeastern Massachusetts region.”
The park is located off Nemasket Street, and is very near the intersection with US 44.
After parking and reading the sign, walk along the paths to the stone mills ruins, literally a building shell with partial walls and no roof. There are several channels to look at, including one that allows herring to swim upstream. You can cross the river on a wooden bridge that allows you to look into the tea colored water. When the herring are running, you can easily see the fish as they travel back to their natal waters to spawn.
There is also an ample picnic area, if you want room to spread out.
The stone bridge that is so photogenic is the Muttock Bridge. It has quite a history, far more than I care to recite here but I will share a link with you to a great story with some historic pictures. It’s a really interesting history and a well written account. http://nemasket.blogspot.com/2010/01/muttock-bridge.html