• Breakheart Reservation Breakheart Reservation
    Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR)
    640 acres

    Parking
    Forest St. Saugus
    Additional Parking at Northeast Vocational School. Hemlock Rd. Wakefield
    Directions to Parking Area
    42.4833221,-71.0280762


    Breakheart Reservation Trail Map


    The Breakheart Reservation consists of 652 acres owned and stewarded by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. The Reservation is home to two lakes, Silver Lake (aka Upper Pond) and Pearce Lake (aka Lower Pond). A portion of the Saugus river winds through the eastern edge of the Reservation.

    Notes on Breakheart Reservation History

    This area was originally part of Lynn and was locally known as the six-hundred acres.
    Except from “Hearths and homes of old Lynn, with studies in local history”, published in 1907
    “The Six Hundred Acres. Through its centre from Oaklandvale and Melrose flows the calm and even- tempered Crystal Brook, till within sight of the house on the east, beyond the turnpike, it joins the Saugus, under the shadow of a hillside colored with foliage that no painter dare imitate. The road to this place, zigzagging in a generally northern course from the Oaklandvale schoolhouse, is arched by the interlacing tree-tops, and is styled in the ancient records, ” the way by Mr. Taylor’s farm.” Since it ceased to be a town-way of Lynn, to become one in Saugus, it has been left to work out its own salvation, which is the usual course in a country town when its road surveyors or commissioners do not chance to live in the vicinity. It must be remembered that town officials are apt to slight such matters, because they are not taught nor paid for aesthetics.

    The way by the house to the north looks like a no-thoroughfare. Many a traveler as he scans the dis-used road repents and turns about, yet there is an old road that leads out by Hewlett’s mill, a mile beyond. It is a picturesque scene that meets the eye of the bold stroller who ventures up this region, which may be haunted by the shade of “old Bill
    Edmands.” There are rocks and rills well worth seeing. There are abandoned apple orchards, vainly struggling with native trees for possession. Not a vestige of the buildings where the pugnacious Mr. Edmands lived can be seen. The cellar where he stored his potatoes and horsed his barrels of cider, the New England farmer’s beverage, can scarcely be distinguished from a last year’s woodchuck’s hole. There is a grim record on the books of the town of Saugus relative to this road. It was not meant as satire, but it sounds like it. Mr. Edmands had a petition before the town meeting for some improvement. The clerk gravely records that the vote was against the prayer, “William Edmands only voting yes.” Like his brother Lott, William loved a lawsuit better than his dinner. He won and lost, and at the end was like Esop’s litigant he had the shell of the oyster only. But this is a digression, simply introduced to show the wayfarer that he is not obliged to turn around and retrace his steps when he reaches this vale of serenity this restful abode bounded by mossy walls of past ages.”

    In 1891, Ben Johnson, Micajah Clough, and John Bartlett purchased the land which is now Breakheart to serve as a game forest and farm for wealthy Boston businessmen.

    After Johnson’s death in 1932, his estate sold the land to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1934 for $40,000.

    “Chap. 0338 An Act providing for the acquisition by the metropolitan district commission of certain land in the towns of saugus and wakefield as a reservation for recreational purposes.

    Be it enacted, etc., as follows:

    The metropolitan district commission, on behalf of the commonwealth, is hereby authorized and directed to take by eminent domain under chapter seventy-nine of the General Laws, or acquire by purchase or otherwise, as a part of the system of metropolitan parks under the control of said commission, a tract of land, owned by the Breakheart Hill Forestry Company, Edith L. Floyd, Relief E. Day and Alice M. Wilson, and Leland G. Floyd, comprising six hundred acres, more or less, consisting of lots A-l to A-7, inclusive, in the town of Saugus as shown on plan ten hundred and thirty-seven, by E. W. Branch, civil engineer, on file in the office of the assessors of the town of Saugus, and also of lots 16, 25, 27, 28, 29 and 30 in the town of Wakefield as shown on Plat 40, assessors’ plan, on file in the office of the assessors of said town of Wakefield. For said purposes the commission may expend such sum, not exceeding forty thousand dollars, as may hereafter be appropriated, such appropriation to be assessed upon the cities and towns of the metropolitan parks district in proportion to the respective taxable valuations of the property of said cities and towns, as defined by section fifty-nine of chapter ninety-two of the General Laws.

    Approved June 27, 1934-“



    Shortly thereafter, in 1935, the CCC established camp number 1149 with approximately 100 men to develop this land into a recreational area.

    “The Flume was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s for flood control and as a viable damming system for recreation and preservation of the lakes.”

    The CCC was active at Breakheart from 1935 to 1940 or 1941.
    In 1936 The CCC published a ‘Camp Publication’ called the ‘Breakheart Mirror’.

    In 1953 the Wakefield entrance was authorized :

    “An Act providing for an entrance in the town of WAKEFIELD TO THE NORTHWEST SECTION OF BREAKHEART RESERVATION. Be it enacted,etc.,as follows: For the purpose of providing an entrance in the town of Wakefield into the northwest section of Breakheart reservation, the metropolitan district commission is hereby authorized to construct and maintain a roadway in said town. Said commission is hereby authorized to acquire by gift or right of eminent domain under chapter seventy-nine of the General Laws any land necessary for the construction of such roadway,and said town is here by authorized to give land for such purpose. For the purposes of this act said commission may expend such sums as may be appropriated Approved May 27,1953.”

    In 1960 the state renamed the two lakes at Breakheart:

    “574 ACTS, I960. —CHAPS. 667, 668, 669. Chap. 667. AN ACT DESIGNATING CERTAIN LAKES IN THE BREAKHEART RESERVATION, IN THE TOWN OF SAUGUS, AS THE JOHN A. W. PEARCE AND DOCTOR JOHN LEO SHJVER LAKES, RESPECTIVELY. Be it enacted, etc., as follows: The Wakesau lake in the Breakheart reservation in the town of Saugus is hereby designated as the John A. W. Pearce lake, and the Sauwake lake in said reservation is hereby designated as the Doctor John Leo Silver lake. The metropolitan district commission is hereby authorized and directed to erect in a conspicuous place on the shore of each of said lakes a marker bearing said designation. Approved September 20, 1960.”

    In August of 2003, the following Breakheart Reservation Parkways were listed on the National Register of Historic Places – Forest Street, Pine Tops Road, Elm Road and Hemlock Road.

    “The Breakheart Reservation, Massachusetts. The Breakheart Reservation was, as the Gun Club Tract, a retreat for wealthy businessmen. It, too, became the site of CCC improvements during the Depression. These improvements were designed by nationally prominent landscape architect Arthur Shurcliff and included road alignments, trails, a ski slope, land topography, a dam, and buildings and structures. Because of the extent of CCC involvement in the landscape design, because of the association with Shurcliff, and because it was a notable example of a designed landscape, the Breakheart Reservation was recommended eligible under National Register Criteria A, B, and C. ”

    Most Commonly Seen Birds at Breakheart:

    1 Black-capped Chickadee
    2 American Robin
    3 Blue Jay
    4 Tufted Titmouse
    5 White-breasted Nuthatch
    6 Common Grackle
    7 Mallard
    8 Chipping Sparrow
    9 House Sparrow
    10 Red-winged Blackbird
    11 Canada Goose
    12 Gray Catbird
    13 American Goldfinch
    14 Downy Woodpecker
    15 Song Sparrow
    16 Chimney Swift
    17 Cedar Waxwing
    18 Eastern Towhee
    19 Baltimore Oriole
    20 Northern Cardinal
    21 Barn Swallow
    22 Mourning Dove
    23 Pine Warbler
    24 Brown-headed Cowbird
    25 Eastern Phoebe

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