By Matt Taylor
Northborough – When Northborough was incorporated in the 18th century, it was originally part of what is now neighboring Marlborough and Westborough. Today, Northborough has established its own identity with a number of great attractions. More than just a residential area for commuters to Boston or Worcester, Northborough is home to a variety of open spaces, natural beauty, history and recreational opportunities for all ages.
Mentioned on the “1,000 Best Places to Visit in Massachusetts” last year, Mt. Pisgah is a peaceful, pristine forested landscape located off rural country roads in the northwest section of town. Covering approximately 5,000 acres and parts of four towns, Mt. Pisgah contains Northborough's highest point and views of Bear Hill in Waltham and the Prudential and Hancock towers in Boston. From the Smith Road parking area, the Mentzer Trail welcomes visitors with a rocky, yet well-groomed, walkway among numerous species of trees and green plants. The trail's first highlight is the Howard Brook, a seasonal stream that provides habitat for a variety of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and even brook trout. The wetlands that surround the brook are home to plants such as ferns, high bush blueberries, and swamp azaleas. The trail continues through forested areas containing red oak and white pine trees where it meets the Berlin Road Trail, an old cart path that connects with the Summit Trail. Follow the Summit Trail north where it meets with the Tyler Trail. Looking through a lot of trees and branches, the two Boston towers, Bear Hill and the Marlborough water tower are visible in the distance. There is also a rock formation with a marker from the U.S. Geological Survey indicating the summit of Mount Pisgah. The reservation has not been spoiled by development, and its location off the beaten path keeps motorized traffic and crowds to a minimum. Because of its large area and undeveloped landscape, wildlife that is not normally seen in areas such as bobcats, black bears and moose have been spotted.
Located near the corner of Hudson and Allen streets, the Wachusett Aqueduct is one of only a few remaining in the state. Constructed near the turn of the 20th century, the aqueduct extends nine miles carrying water from the Wachusett Reservoir near Clinton to the Walnut Hill Water Treatment Plant in Marlborough. The plant treats more than 300 million gallons of water a day for 41 communities from Northborough eastward. Most of the aqueduct is underground, but the section crossing the Assabet River provides a scenic backdrop for walkers, runners, and even motorists to enjoy. Plant life and wildlife are plentiful near the aqueduct, and birdwatchers have numerous opportunities to see heron and other species of birds. The Yellick Conservation Area and Coyote Trail on the east side of Hudson Street just past the Residence at the Falls is within a stone's throw of the aqueduct and offers hiking and access to fishing along the Assabet.
Honoring history, heritage and heroes
Northborough has a number of monuments of historical significance as well as memorials honoring those who paid the ultimate sacrifice fighting for our country. At the corner of Whitney and Church streets is the World War I Memorial honoring Northborough residents who gave their lives during that conflict. Directly across the street is Ellsworth Square, honoring Neil Ellsworth, a Northborough resident who died during the Vietnam War. Located up the hill at the First Parish Unitarian Church is a historic bell constructed in 1809. This bell rang after the death of every president from John Adams to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The building that housed the bell was destroyed in 1945, but the bell was recovered and placed in a small courtyard next to the church.
Travel east on Main Street to the Town Hall and locate the Minuteman Monument honoring men and women of Northborough who served in all wars. Nearby is the Henry Knox Monument, which marks a section of the path where Gen. Knox brought the artillery he captured at Fort Ticonderoga to George Washington in Cambridge, which resulted in the British Army evacuation of Boston.
Finally, there's Mary Goodnow's grave on Route 20 near the Marlborough line. Goodnow, a Northborough resident, was gathering herbs with her friend Mary Fay in 1707, when a group of Native Americans burst out of the nearby woods and chased Fay and Goodnow. Fay was able to find sanctuary at the Goodnow garrison, but Goodnow could not outrun the Indians, and she was captured, murdered and scalped. Her grave is located on the path behind the Pleasant Hill Condominium Community.