By Douglas Maxwell Myer, Contributing Writer
Marlborough/Hudson – This fall the trees surrounding Fort Meadow Reservoir produced a fine array of bright foliage for members of the community to watch throughout the season. Although this body of water is a well noted location in the local region, its colorful history is not as familiar to everyone.
According to historical records, this area of land was first made up of wide spacious meadows with a small brook trailing across the plains. It branched off of the Elizabeth River which is known as the Assabet River today. In passing centuries members of the Nipmuc Indian tribe once settled in this territory which proved to be a perfect location for them to obtain food and maintain a secure livelihood. The forest allowed for hunting and firewood and the brook provided a source of fish and drinking water.
But what the Nipmucs liked the most was that the meadows were vast enough so no enemies could engage in any surprise attacks against the tribe. That is how the area got its noted name of “Fort Meadow.” Ironically, during the course of King Philip’s War in the 1670s, the population of Colonial settlers dramatically increased and they fought against the Native Americans over land, eventually taking over many New England locations including
the Fort Meadow area. Large homes were constructed on the meadows and were later labeled “forts,” where settlers could retreat if any Indian attacks took place.
The transition of Fort Meadow’s body of water from a brook to a lake first began around the 1790s when Calvin Maynard established a grist mill next to the small body of water. The grist mill was later converted into a saw mill and was taken over by Isaac Maynard. In 1820 Isaac passed away and the mill was taken over by his son, Amory Maynard, who was only 16 years old. Despite his young age he was very successful with running the business. The location of the mill and construction of a dam caused a small pond to form in the area. Over time that water expanded into the meadows creating a new lake.
By the late 1840s, Boston officials approached Amory about purchasing his land and using the lake for some of the city’s drinking water. Maynard received a purchase payment of $150,000 from Boston and Fort Meadow’s lake was used as a reservoir for a little over 10 years. The property was then given back to Amory Maynard once the city determined that they no longer needed to use this water source.
In 1953 the mill property was owned by The American Woolen Company and they sold the
13 acres of land to the city of Marlborough who decided to open a public beach. It was named The World War II Memorial Beach which has been open to the public ever since.