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The Friends of

Hemlock Gorge

P.O. Box 62
Waban, MA 02468

Enjoy and Help Preserve Hemlock Gorge!

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Welcome  to the Home Page of the Friends of Hemlock Gorge Reservation, a community organization dedicated to preserving and improving Hemlock Gorge, Brian Yates, Founder.

Hemlock Gorge is a 23-acre reservation along the Charles River between Route 9 and Elliot Street in Needham. It was conceived by Charles Eliot in 1892 and is managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. At its heart is the famous Echo Bridge. Parts of the park are in Wellesley, Newton, and Needham. In addition to street parking nearby, there are two small parking lots, one in Needham at the intersection of Elliot Street and Hamilton Place and the other in Newton at the intersection of Ellis Street and Boylston Street.

The Friends of Hemlock Gorge is now a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. Contributions to the friends are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.


News & Announcements

Upcoming Meetings of the Friends 

Regular Meetings are usually held on the first Tuesday of the month at 7:15 in the evening unless otherwise announced. They are are held at the Emerson Community Center off of Pettee Street. Click here for directions. There is free parking.

The next regular meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 12 a week later than usual due to election day. December will be our holiday party meeting, date to be announced. No meeting in July. Minutes of the September, 2019 meeting are available here.  

To read our 2018 Annual Report to Members, click here. The 2019 report will be issued in December.


2019 Fall Cleanup

The Friends of Hemlock Gorge’s 39th Annual Fall Cleanup is scheduled for Saturday, October 26, 2019, rain or shine, unless extreme weather is expected. It will be the day before the Run of the Charles.  Volunteers should meet at Hamilton Place between 9:30 and 10 a.m. For a MAP showing the location, click here. Parking available at Hamilton Place, the Mills Falls parking lot, and at the Hemlock Gorge parking lot at the intersection of Ellis St. and Rte. 9. Clean-up materials supplied and refreshments provided for all volunteers! 

Please dress appropriately for the work and weather. We plan to have a lunch available for volunteers after the cleanup, at noon.

For a photo archive of many past clean-ups, click here.

August 6: Dedication of the Friends' Memorial to Brian Yates and our 2018 Summer Picnic

Brian Yates, former Newton City Councilor and the Founder, Past-President, and guiding spirit of the Friends of Hemlock Gorge passed away on March 15, 2019. A granite memorial to Brian has now been placed in Hemlock Gorge close by the Stone Building and the Circular Dam.

The dedication took place on the evening of August 6 before our annual summer picnic, which he always hosted. Nearly 60 people attended, including some of his closest friends and colleagues. Rememberances were given by Rep. Ruth Balser, Newton Mayor Fuller, Amy Mah Sangiolo, Bob Burke, and Rena Getz. Vaunita Schnell and Rob MacArthur recounted the history of the saving of the Stone Building from derelection and the long list of accomplishments of the Friends. Finally, three of Brian's cousins attended and spoke. Pictures of the dedication will be posted soon.

On August 14 the Newton Tab published an article about the dedication of Brian’s memorial. It’s on the front page of the second section of the printed version. Here is the link to the online version:

Music for the picnic was provided courtesy of Karen Osborn, who also landscaped the Stone Building for the event. Brian loved our picnics. For the archive of past picinics, click here. Rescuing the Stone Building was a key project in the founding of the Friends. To read Brian's history of the Founding of The Friends of Hemlock Gorge, click this iink: A Brief History of the Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Anyone wishing to contribute to the Friends activities can contact us at The Friends of Hemlock Gorge is now an approved 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.

Stone Building: Major Successes

Funding for a new Stone Building Roof: At the dedication of the BrianYates memorial, Representative Ruth Balser announced that the new state budget includes a $50,000 appropriation for restoration of the roof of the Stone Building. The Friends applauded her efforts.

New Stone Building Railings: At our October, 2018 meeting, Evan Westrate announced that fencing for the Stone Building project has been fabricated and installantion is now complete. The new railings, shown in the photos to the right, taken during construction, are gorgeous.

This project has been champrioned by Evan who announced last December that the DCR approved our public-private partnership proposal to replace the fencing by the Stone Building. The Friends have contributed $7,000 and the state $14,000 to the project. the official letter of commitment from the DCR was received last spring.

We all congratulate Evan on his tenacious work on behalf of all of us in bringing the project to a successful conclusion.

2020 Annual Summer Picnic: The Friends of Hemlock Gorge’s Annual Summer Picnic in 2020 will take place in August,  again at the Stone Building.

Echo Bridge Railing Project

Echo Bridge is one of outstanding landmarks of the Metropolitan Parks System. Built in 1876, Echo Bridge was designed by the Boston Water Works (BWW) to carry the Sudbury Aqueduct over the Charles River. The largest of its seven arches is 130’ in length, which made it the second longest masonry arch in the United States. The bridge is remarkable for its graceful and handsome granite and brick design that contribute to the rugged beauty of Hemlock Gorge.

The historic cast iron railings pictured above are an integral component of the promenade over which pedestrians and bicyclists traverse daily. After 140 years, however, they are now in serious disrepair. In 2008, the MWRA installed a temporary chain link safety fence inside the historic railings to enable the bridge to remain open.

The time has come to either raise the funds to properly replicate the historic railings or to install a more permanent and attractive safety railing system inside the historic railings while leaving the old railings themselves in disrepair. Everyone prefers the former path if at all possible.

While State Rep. Ruth Balser was successful in allocating $250,000 in a past transportation bond bill for the railing project, full costs for the project far exceed that amount. In response to the fact that the MWRA cannot fund historic preservation projects decoupled from its water supply mission, a group of citizens has joined together to help raise funds to fix the historic railings, and we invite your support.

For more information, please see the minutes of the February, 2019 meeting, other materials on  our website and our flyer.

Funds are being sought from multiple sources via a private/public partnership so that the expense of proper restoration is shared across a variety of stakeholders and contributors. Sources will include State funds, Newton and Needham Community Preservations funds, historic foundations, and private contributors. MWRA, the bridge owner, will be the funding recipient and will provide the engineering, contracting, and project management expertise to conduct the project. Will you join us in a pledge?

Please e-mail us your willingness to pledge to this project: at

Echo Bridge Across the Years

Click here to read the history of Echo Bridge as written by the late historian Ken Newcomb in his online book, Makers of the Mold, published by the Friends of Hemlock Gorge

To see stories about Echo Bridge  that have appeared on our web site go to: Archive of Echo Bridge news stories.

To read a very detailed government report on the Echo Bridge railings, provided to us by Lee Fisher, click here.

2018 Annual Report

The 2018 Annual Year-End Report to Members is online. Click here to read it.

2016 Saving the Hemlock Trees Project

Through the efforts of Bob Burke, a plan was made to treat the hemlock trees in the Reservation with an insecticide on Arbor Day, April 29. Jason Lupien of Lupient Tree Service was organizing the program to prvovide the labor at no cost, if the Friends could purchase the insecticide. See the minutes of our April, 2016 meeting (click here ).

Unexpectedly, the DCR announced that they had decided to undertake the treatment at no cost to the Friends. Ken Gooch of DCR and two USDA staff did in fact treat the trees on May 23. Brian was there to observe during the morning. He reports that they did dozens of trees from the pathway to the overlook to Echo Bridge, including some of the very tall ones near the bridge that look pretty sickly. If the treatment works, the results should be spectacular. They said they were going to spend the rest of the day treating trees and that they had plenty of supplies.

Arborist Ken Gooch of the DCR was at our June meeting to update us on the treatment of the hemlocks. At the moment the trees are in greater peril from the elongated hemlock scale than the adelgids. Lisa Barstow of the DCR updated us on the fence project, and Marti Rudi, also of the DCR, updated us on the stone building shingles. For more details read the minutes of our VERY informative June, 2016 meeting; to do so click here.

Finishing the rehabilitation of the Eliot Street Bridge in 2017

State authorities have completed reconstruction of the Eliot Street Bridge reconstruction at the southern end of Hemlock Gorge Reservation. Restoration of the meadow is proceeding. The dedication was held in late November, 2012. The efforts of the Friends were recognized and President Brian Yates was an invited speaker. For details click here.

To read Ken Newcomb's account of the long history of this bridge in Makers of the Mold, click here.







Brian Yates

Friends' Founding President Brian Yates 





Brian Yates' Memorial


Brian Yates' Memorial

The Memorial to  Founding President Brian Yates  





New Stone Building Railings

The New Railings

The Echo Bridge Railings a century ago

The Echo Bridge Railings as they appeared a century ago 



Echo Bridge in Summer (Click for a larger image)


Echo Bridge in Spring, 1997


Stone Building Windows News

The Stone Building windows and screens are installed. See pictures to the right and below. We are planning a dedication event for the spring, probably in April.

New Windows. View from inside the Stone Barn


The installed windows

Feast in the Falls 2019

Seana Gaherin and her volunteer committee successfully arranged the second of her Upper Falls Residents outdoor luncheons on June 23, 2017. The food was delicious and Jerry Reilly entertained us all with grandeloquent rap singing. A grand time was had by all.

The 2018 Feast will be in Se[te,ber this year.

Our 2019 Spring Cleanup  went well,.

Spillway Dam Repair News

The dam is completed and the dedication was held in late November, 2012. The efforts of the Friends were recognized and President Brian Yates was an invited speaker. 

New Resource

Melissa Moody, a Girl Scout working with Site Supervisor Erica Aubin, has put in place a remarkable signage project running along the Quinobequin Road trail, downstream of Hemlock Gorge. Instead of static signposts, she has installed interactive signage with QR barcodes. Go have a look and bring your smartphone and QR barcode reader. It’s the future of nature trails, and we should plan something similar for Hemlock Gorge, perhaps with the Troop 242 Boy Scouts. Melissa's website is Very Impressive!


The new landscaping at the stone building

The new spillway dam.


2013 Adelgid News from Bob Burke

  • Biggest news is that the Arboretum is planning to save some of its hemlocks using new technology.

  • "I met with Peter Del Tredici at the Arnold Arboretum and then went over to see their hemlocks. Peter had good news and bad news. The good news is that there is, indeed, a new hemlock treatment that is good for 5 years.  It involves placing a chemical substance in the soil rather than injecting it into the tree.The bad news is that at least 60 percent of a tree should be free of adelgids for this treatment to work. This can be quite expensive. He thinks we should look to saving perhaps half a dozen of the healthiest trees.

  • He also stated that 2011 was very bad for all the hemlocks because of the warm weather.  

  • Western hemlocks are more resistant than Eastern ones, but they don't do as well here because of the colder winters and drier summers.

  •  He says we need a professional tree company to determine what can be done.  He was reluctant to recommend one, but then casually said that Hartney Greymont of Needham is very reputable and one of the best.

  •  I had a look at the Hemlocks back in April or May, but have had a very bad ankle tendonitis that makes it difficult to walk up hills or sideways.   Maybe we could all go around and take a look at the trees during the cleanup in October.   The Hemlocks at Arnold Arboretum are also worth seeing since they have been treated and look fine."

Stone Building Windows: Great News

Windows are fabricated and have been installed! As soon as the prtective screens are put in front of them, we will be able to see and enjoy them--probably before 2013. Of course, we'll have to have a party to celebrate and thank the Sangiolos for their generous support of this much delayed project.

We are now hard at work to find the funds to replace the roof.



  • News about us and our activities
  • Meetings and Special Events of the Friends
  • Online Publications
  • Histories of Hemlock Gorge, Upper Falls, and The Friends of Hemlock Gorge
  • Information about the preserving the Reservation
  • The struggle against the woolly adelgid
  • Archives of the Friends' activities
  • The Charles River Wetlands Trail, located downstream of Hemlock Gorge, on the opposite side of Route 9, less than a mile away. The trail features signage that uses QR barcodes that a hiker with a smartphone can use to learn more about the flora and fauna near the sign. Click here if you are interested in exploring these wetlands.
  • Links to external sites
  • A Map of the reservation
  • Directions to the Reservation

  • Sound! Click to hear the Charles as it flowed over the Circular Dam on November 9, 1998.

  • A Walking Tour of Hemlock Gorge by Ken Newcomb is available for printing.

  • A trail map for printing will be posted by 2020.


The "Memory House" at Hemlock Gorge

Friends member Bob Burke not too long ago wrote a lovely guest columnist article about Hemlock Gorge and the Friends' activities that has appeared in the Newton Tab. Highly recommended. Click here to read it.


Echo Bridge in the Fall



News Stories

General Reservation News:

We have moved older Echo Bridge stories that have appeared on our web site to our Archive of News Stories. This is where you will find news of awards, encroachment, politics and such. For news about key concerns of the Friends like the adelgids, Echo Bridge, and the Stone Building are below.

In Waban, there was trouble with the trails along the river. See an opinion article and accompanying blog  by Jerry Reilly and a front page news article, both in the Newton Tab.


Finding the History in Hemlock Gorge Reservation

Sunday, June 22, 2017 2:00 PM

This walk took place on a gorgeous day, with about three dozen people in attendance. Everyone agreed that Hemlock Gorge is both a beautiful place to walk and the site of much historical importance as Newton's first industrial center. Old maps and photographs helped the group to visualize the mills that were located on the island and along the Charles River and to appreciate the importance of Worcester Turnpike/Route 9 to the area's commerce. The walk was expertly led by Lucy Caldwell-Stair, with whom the gourp found the site of the 1893 Echo Bridge Park amphitheater and the cave, the "Devil's Den," where Native Americans stored dried fish.


Adelgid News

Summer 2014

The woolly adelgid has now been in the reservation for some 15 years, and it is unclear how many of the hemlocks will survive.

We have moved older adelgid stories that have appeared on our web site to: Archive of adelgid news stories. We have archived the entire saga of the adelgids' appearance, our efforts to pass legislation to combat them, the release of the predator ladybugs in 2001, and follow up analyses in the Friends' Adelgid News Stories Archive. Below are some highlights and links.

  • The Newton Tab declares the Adelgid Vanquished! (2005) Click here to view the story.
  • The Arnold Arboretum's Response to the Adelgid (Winter 2005)  Click here to view the story.
  • Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Website (January 2005) The USDA Forest Service now has a website dedicated to the woolly adelgid. The site includes all the of the USDA's newsletters on the pest, pictures, and a great deal of technical information. Interestingly, the Forest Service is looking at several different control insects, not just the P. tsugae ladybugs we released. Click here to go the to US Forest Service adelgid website.
  • Mark McClure, who was a leader in adelgid research and discovered "our" ladybugs, retired.
  • Release of the Ladybugs (2001) Click here for the story and photos of the release of the ladybugs
  • About our Ladybugs (2001) Click here to view the story.
  • About Adelgids (2000) Click here to view the story.  


Stone Building Project News

A Stone Building News Archive is available by clicking here

June 29, 2011

The new windows for the Stone Building, donated in 2002 and fabricated in 2008, are ainstalled.

March 1, 2006

In early January, the Friends of Hemlock Gorge succeeded in our application for a Public-Private Partnership with the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). The Friends earmarked $2500 for a new floor and other repairs to the Stone Building, and that amount will be matched by the DCR. We will post a copy of the correspondence soon. This means that our long hoped for plans to make the Stone Building a great venue for Friends' activities will soon become a reality (February 2006). The new floor will, hopefully, be followed soon by the new windows, for which funds have already been generously donated by the Sangiolo Trust. On February 23, we were notified by the DCR that they are preparing to pour the floor very soon, and that the Friends will be asked for input on design.

Echo Bridge News

We have moved older Echo Bridge stories that have appeared on our web site to: Archive of Echo Bridge news stories.

Click here to read the history of Echo Bridge as written by the late historian Ken Newcomb in his online book, Makers of the Mold, published by the Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Occasional Notes: The Joys of Hemlock Gorge  
  • To the right: the Silk Mill in 1905, before construction of the "Horseshoe" or Circular Dam. Note the lower water level. From a postcard recently found by Bonnie and Rick Pearson. Click for a larger image.
  • The Newton Conservators have a lovely page of photos of Hemlock Gorge. Click here to see them.
  • Richard Kramer has also put up photos of Hemlock Gorge to share with us. Click here to see them.

The Silk Mill Dam in 1905



Four Seasons of Hemlock Gorge
  • Panoramic photos of Hemlock Gorge taken by Steve Clark from the top of Echo Bridge show well the splendor of the Reservation and comprise the Friends' Four Seasons of Hemlock Gorge collection. Panoramas were pretty special back in 2000.
  • Click on the small images below to see the Panoramas full size. Note: If you are using Internet explorer, you need to hover your cursor on the image to see it full size. An icon will appear. Click on it, and the image enlarges.

Panorama of Hemlock Gorge in Spring

Spring 2000

Panorama of Hemlock Gorge in Summer

Summer 2000

Panorama of Hemlock Gorge in the Fall

Fall 2000

Panorama of Hemlock Gorge in Winter

Winter 2001, taken during the storm of March 5-6

Doug Cornelius posted a lovely account of canoeing through Hemlock Gorge a few years ago with pictures. Click here to see it.

Another collection of photos of Hemlock Gorge is at Boston Online: Click here to see them.


Publications of the Friends

Makers of the Mold, a full-length illustrated history of the Newton Upper Falls community which borders Hemlock Gorge, is available only on the Web. Authored by Historian, Conservationist, and Friend Ken Newcomb, who passed away in 2002. Copies of the print edition of The Makers of the Mold can be purchased online and are also available at several local restaurants, convenience stores and cafes. The full list of outlets can be found here.

A Walking Tour of Hemlock Gorge

This work is available onl at this Web site.

Other Dates and Events of Interest

The Friends' Resources and Archives

1. Our most important Resource is People!

2. History

3. Contemporary Challenges Facing the Hemlock Gorge Reservation

4. Local Governmental, Civic, and Conservation Organizations Online


Non-governmental Organizations

Our Archives

The Friends were honored with a beautification award from the City of Newton in 1997. Click here for the story. Click on the small picture to see a larger image of the award.