"Ford's Folly" Water Dam - Framingham, MA
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member NorStar
N 42° 21.255 W 071° 27.609
19T E 297384 N 4692040
Quick Description: In the middle of the woods is a dam built by Henry Ford intending to store water for a grist mill by the Wayside Inn, but failed due to the soil conditions.
Location: Massachusetts, United States
Date Posted: 5/30/2011 6:18:32 AM
Waymark Code: WMBKG8
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member northernpenguin
Views: 23

Long Description:
In Framingham, within the Nobscot Conservation Area, is a trail that leads over a straight, stone and concrete structure that appears to be there for no reason. On one side of this structure is wetlands. On the other is a small stream. This structure is a dam wall, and it is locally known as "Ford's Folly."

There isn't a lot on the web about this feature. I first learned of this feature through the "Ford's Folly" Geocache, GCGNX5 (see link below). This still has the most information about it. It is also mentioned in the Wikipedia Article for the Wayside Inn, an article about Sudbury history, and a MetroWest Daily News (Wikedlocal.com) article. It was even featured on WCVB (Channel 5) in their program, "Chronicle", on the Bay Circuit Trail.

Henry Ford purchased the Wayside Inn and many acres around it in 1923. He had a grist mill built from scratch nearby, as well as the Mary-Martha chapel, and moved the redstone schoolhouse from Sterling (it was likely actually a barn made from the original wood from the schoolhouse, but I digress). Water was flowing to the grist mill, but Ford wanted to store more for it. So, on the slope of Nobscot Hill to the south, he had a dam built. The wall was built 30-60 ft high and 900 ft long out of stone and concrete, using the traditional methods of oxen and man power.

Unfortunately, the dam never really worked. It succeeded in holding back only enough water to form a wetland. The reasons given were that the soil is too porous behind the dam, and the stream has very little water most of the year, anyway.

The dam today can be walked on safely. It has rather unsightly chain-link fencing on both sides, but there is no danger of falling. There are paths leading both to and away, though I'm not sure where the path from one end leads (it looks like it goes toward houses).

The best place to park is on Brimfield Road. The path entrance is across the street. It does a couple switchbacks down the slope, then meanders through the woods. Directions are difficult to give, here. Generally, take rights at major trail intersections, and watch the waymark location on the GPSr. You will be traveling the Bay Circuit Trail part of the way.


Wikipedia (Wayside Inn):
(visit link)

Geocaching (Ford's Folly Geocache):
(visit link)

MetroWest Daily News (Scouting around MetroWest's Nobscot Reservation):
(visit link)

Sudbury Chamber of Commerce (Sudbury History):
(visit link)
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Recent Visits/Logs:
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AZTech visited "Ford's Folly" Water Dam - Framingham, MA 9/2/2012 AZTech visited it
Limax wrote comment for "Ford's Folly" Water Dam - Framingham, MA 8/24/2012 Limax wrote comment for it
Freddie's Pack visited "Ford's Folly" Water Dam - Framingham, MA 6/1/2011 Freddie's Pack visited it

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