Annual Letter to Members, 1997

Dear Friends of Hemlock Gorge:

At this time of Thanksgiving and Holiday Cheer, we write to you to mark the end of an eventful year for the Friends and to appeal to you to renew your membership and your commitment to our activities in 1998. 1997 was an excellent year for the preservation and enhancement of the Hemlock Gorge Reservation with all its history and natural beauty.

The Friends’ Web site

Probably the major new activity of the year was the full implementation of our new Site on the World Wide Web. (Point your browser to It offers pictures and stories about the Friends, the Gorge, and our efforts to preserve it. It includes our meeting schedules, archives of our past meeting notes, descriptions of special issues like the Friends Bridge and the woolly adelgid insect threat. It also includes Ken Newcomb’s Tour of Hemlock gorge and the full text of his full length unpublished history of the gorge and the Upper Falls, Makers of the Mold. Many volunteers have assisted our webmaster with the scanning and editing needed to publish this book electronically, and the Friends are now working to add pictures from Ken’s extensive archives. Our site was listed by our Internet Host, Channel1, Inc., as a site of the week in the spring. It features hyperlinks to the MDC web site, and it is in turn linked to many outside sites relevant to the Gorge. We expect that we have only begun to reap the benefits of using the Internet to make Hemlock Gorge, the Friends, and the work of our members more widely known. If there is anything you might want to know about Hemlock Gorge or the history of Newton Upper Falls, visit the Friends’ Home Page, again at

The Ellis Street Parking Lot

We have maintained the Ellis Street Parking Log developed and beautified in 1996 by the Friends in partnership with the City of Newton’s Mayor, Department of Public Works, and Engineering and Planning Department. the site was honored by a City beautification award presented by the City Beautification Committee, chaired by Leo Servi. (The certificate can be seen on our web site.)

Cleanups of the Reservation

We continued our fall and spring clean ups of trash from the Gorge and in November we expanded our scope. On a dreary rainy day, we worked with MDC Site Supervisor Kevin Hollenbeck to clean most of the channel between the River and New Pond. We will finish this work in the spring as a warm-up for the Friends Bridge across the same channel. Hank Lysaght had pointed out the sorry state of Turtle Island, north of Route 9, just downstream of the Gorge. On cleanup day, he, his wife, and Bobbie Demers focused on this long neglected site near the Reservation.

The Stone Barn

We have continued to make efforts to find ways to pay for the rehabilitation of the historic Stone Barn Building in the Reservation. We have previously worked with the MDC and the Army corps of Engineers to preserve the structure. An outside section of the Open Space bond bill introduced by Representative Kay Khan at our request directing the MDC to apply for Federal Highway Enhancement Funds was signed in to law. Rep. Khan and Senator Lois Pines introduced new bills seeking highway fund to finish the rehabilitation of echo Bridge and part of the proceeds of the rent of the Mass. Highway Depot diagonally across the Rte. 9/Rte. 128 interchange to finish Echo Bridge and the Stone Building. The bills were reported favorably by the Natural Resources Committee that Senator Pines chairs. The Echo Bridge highway bill passed the House. The other bill was sent to the House Ways and Means Committee. We will continue to advocate the bills in 1998. Information on the Stone Barn, including its history and architects’ drawings, are available on the web site.

The Friends’ Bridge

John Mordes and Hank Lysaght made major progress finding an exact site for the Friends’ Bridge from the Needham bank to Turtle island near New Pond. Their design for the bridge is essentially identical to that of the Rustic Bridge originally constructed in the late 1800s and depicted in turn of the century postcards. The postcards and the plans are available on our web site.

The Woolly Adelgid

A small but very dangerous insect named the woolly adelgid is in the area. It can destroy hemlock trees in less than two years after an infestation begins. We are closely monitoring the Gorge to make sure that we can respond quickly to any outbreak. (The adelgids look like small cotton Q-tip ends on the underside of needles. We will also reach out to experts who can provide the biological enemies of the adelgid,. Chemical agents are very difficult to apply on very large trees like those in the Gorge. For additional information, again see our web site.

You can participate in our work in many ways. Please pay dues to that we can send you meeting notices and minutes and pay our web site maintenance costs. Our clean ups will also be announced in mailings. Enclosed is an envelope complete with stamp and our complete address to make your response easy. Please fill out the enclosed membership card and return it with your preferences indicated. If you wish to join or renew, dues categories are listed on the card. Dues for 1997 can be paid now or at any meeting.

If you can participate in our monthly meetings, we would love to see you. Our monthly meeting I held, unless otherwise noted, at 7:15 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month at the Emerson Community Center on Pettee Street in Newton Upper Falls. (Mark these upcoming 1997 dates: Jan 6, Feb. 3, Mar. 3, Apr. 7, May 5, June 2, Sept. 8, Oct 6, Nov. 10, and Dec. 1!) Please do come to our next meeting! (If you would like to participate but cannot come on Tuesdays, let us know. We can change meeting times as needed to accommodate our members!)

We have enjoyed very strong working relationships with Kevin Hollenbeck, MDC Site Supervisor, his assistant Bob Hasset, Representative Kay Khan, Senator Lois Pines, the Upper Falls CDC, the Newton Parks and Recreation Department.

Please join all of us in 1998 to make Hemlock Gorge even more beautiful.

With best wishes,

Brian Yates, President

John P. Mordes, M.D., Membership Coordinator and Webmaster