Love that dirty water . . . Millers River, Cambridge

I was doing some data entry the other day and paused over the sad fate of Richard Black, who drowned when he was just 7 years old in 1903 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (He is related to me through the Gaule family.)

Death record for Richard Black

But I had never heard of Miller’s River. Turns out I had never heard of it because the river had been filled in as industry in Cambridge waned. Millers River is now just a small waterway between Cambridge and Charlestown, around the Zakim Bridge. Mark Jaquith at Cambridge Community Television has a great article and slideshow about Millers River.

Prior to being filled in, Millers River was heavily polluted by local industry, particularly by the Squires slaughterhouse where some of my relatives worked. The pollution and smell were so bad that it is supposed to have inspired some early Massachusetts waterway regulations. I wonder if poor Richard fell in or if it was so hot in August that he went swimming in the polluted water.

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2 thoughts on “Love that dirty water . . . Millers River, Cambridge

  1. Since Mark’s excellent article and slideshow the Commonwealth has completed a magnificent footbridge that crosses the North Station railroad tracks to connect the Paul Revere Park in Charlestown to the well-designed parkland in Cambridge. It is worth a visit. I think the Duck Boat tours depart just about where Miller’s Creek used to be. I nearly drowned in the nearby Malden River when I was a child. It was tidal then and filthy dirty. My dear grandmother, Mary (Costigan) McGee warned us to stay away from the Marsh, but we couldn’t resist the lure – it was an urban adventure to go – and I slipped on the muddy, clay embankments and plunged in at high tide. I can still taste that briny, cold stew.

  2. What a great memory to share! I grew up around the Belle Isle Marsh and agree that marshes are an enticing landscape. Thanks for the footbridge information; I’ll have to try to get over there next time I’m up that way.

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