Friends' Logo

The Friends of

Hemlock Gorge

1094 Chestnut Street
Newton Upper Falls, MA 02464

Enjoy and Help Preserve Hemlock Gorge!
Welcome  to the Home Page of the Friends of Hemlock Gorge Reservation , a community organization dedicated to preserving and improving Hemlock Gorge, Brian Yates, President.

Hemlock Gorge is a 23-acre reservation along the Charles River, conceived by Charles Eliot in 1892 and currently managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.


News & Announcements

2016 Upcoming Meetings

Regular meetings are held on the first Tuesday of the month. Our next regular meetings will be Tuesday June 7 and September 6, 2016. No meeting in July.

To read the minutes of our May, 2016 meeting, click here.

2016 Summer Picnic

Our Annual Picnic is scheduled for Tuesday, August 9, 2015 at Hamilton Place from 5 to dusk. A grill should be available. For a MAP showing the location, click here.

Special Report: Saving the Hemlock Trees in Progress!

Through the efforts of Bob Burke, a plan was made to treat the hemlock trees in the Reservation with an insecticide on Arbor Day, April 29. Jason Lupien of Lupient Tree Service was organizing the program to prvovide the labor at no cost, if the Friends could purchase the insecticide. See the minutes of our April meeting ( click here ).

Unexpectedly, the DCR announced that they had decided to undertake the treatment at no cost to the Friends. Ken Gooch of DCR and two USDA staff did in fact treat the trees on May 23. Brian was there to observe during the morning. He reports that they did dozens of trees from the pathway to the overlook to Echo Bridge, including some of the very tall ones near the bridge that look pretty sickly. If the treatment works, the results should be spectacular. They said they were going to spend the rest of the day treating trees and that they had plenty of supplies. Stay tuned!

Rehabilitation of the Eliot Street Bridge in 2016

State authorities anticipate temporary closure of the Eliot Street Bridge at the southern end of Hemlock Gorge Reservation for rehabilitation. This will affect access to Hamilton Place. To read about the proposed bridge project click here.

To read Ken Newcomb's account of the long history of this bridge in Makers of the Mold, click here.

Annual Report

The 2015 Annual Year-End Report to Members is online. Click here to read it.

2016 Spring Cleanup

The Annual Spring Cleanup of Hemlock Gorge was on Saturday April 30, 2016. 

It was a lovely day and everything went extremely well.



Echo Bridge in Summer (Click for a larger image)


2015 Fall Cleanup

The Friends of Hemlock Gorgeís Annual Fall Cleanup was held on Saturday, November 7. Turnout was good, about a dozen volunteers, and the effort was very successful, but beause a lot of leaves had already fallen, some of the trash was covered up. Refreshments were again be generously provided after the clean up by Seana Gaherin of Dunn-Gaherin Restaurant fame.


2015 Annual Summer Picnic

Our Annual Picnic took place on Tuesday, August 25, 2014 at Hamilton Place. Live music was again be provided courtesy of Karen Osborne. It was lovely evening.

The next picnic will be on Tuesday, August 2, 2016.

Echo Bridge in Spring, 1997


Stone Building Windows News

The Stone Building windows and screens are installed. See pictures to the right and below. We are planning a dedication event for the spring, probably in April.

New Windows. View from inside the Stone Barn


The installed windows

Feast in the Falls

Seana Gaherin and her volunteer committee successfully arranged the second of her Upper Falls Residents outdoor luncheons on June 23. The food was delicious and Jerry Reilly entertained us all with grandeloquent rap singing. A grand time was had by all.

Our 2013 Spring Cleanup  went well, though our invited guests were unable to attend. Most folks seemed to think that putting a fence like that near the new spillway should be our next project. We'll try to post some photos.

Spillway Dam Repair News

The dam is completed and the dedication was held in late November, 2012. The efforts of the Friends were recognized and President Brian Yates was an invited speaker. 

New Resource

Melissa Moody, a Girl Scout working with Site Supervisor Erica Aubin, has put in place a remarkable signage project running along the Quinobequin Road trail, downstream of Hemlock Gorge. Instead of static signposts, she has installed interactive signage with QR barcodes. Go have a look and bring your smartphone and QR barcode reader. Itís the future of nature trails, and we should plan something similar for Hemlock Gorge, perhaps with the Troop 242 Boy Scouts. Melissa's website is Very Impressive!


The new landscaping at the stone building

The new spillway dam.


2013 Adelgid News from Bob Burke

  • Biggest news is that the Arboretum is planning to save some of its hemlocks using new technology.

  • "I met with Peter Del Tredici at the Arnold Arboretum and then went over to see their hemlocks. Peter had good news and bad news. The good news is that there is, indeed, a new hemlock treatment that is good for 5 years.  It involves placing a chemical substance in the soil rather than injecting it into the tree.The bad news is that at least 60 percent of a tree should be free of adelgids for this treatment to work. This can be quite expensive. He thinks we should look to saving perhaps half a dozen of the healthiest trees.

  • He also stated that 2011 was very bad for all the hemlocks because of the warm weather.  

  • Western hemlocks are more resistant than Eastern ones, but they don't do as well here because of the colder winters and drier summers.

  •  He says we need a professional tree company to determine what can be done.  He was reluctant to recommend one, but then casually said that Hartney Greymont of Needham is very reputable and one of the best.

  •  I had a look at the Hemlocks back in April or May, but have had a very bad ankle tendonitis that makes it difficult to walk up hills or sideways.   Maybe we could all go around and take a look at the trees during the cleanup in October.   The Hemlocks at Arnold Arboretum are also worth seeing since they have been treated and look fine."

Stone Building Windows: Great News

Windows are fabricated and have been installed! As soon as the prtective screens are put in front of them, we will be able to see and enjoy them--probably before 2013. Of course, we'll have to have a party to celebrate and thank the Sangiolos for their generous support of this much delayed project.



  • News about us and our activities
  • Meetings and Special Events of the Friends
  • Online Publications
  • Histories of Hemlock Gorge, Upper Falls, and The Friends of Hemlock Gorge
  • Information about the preserving the Reservation
  • The struggle against the woolly adelgid
  • Archives of the Friends' activities
  • The Charles River Wetlands Trail, located downstream of Hemlock Gorge, on the opposite side of Route 9, less than a mile away. The trail features signage that uses QR barcodes that a hiker with a smartphone can use to learn more about the flora and fauna near the sign. Click here if you are interested in exploring these wetlands.
  • Links to external sites
  • A Map of the reservation
  • Directions to the Reservation

  • Sound! Click to hear the Charles as it flowed over the Circular Dam on November 9, 1998.

  • A Walking Tour of Hemlock Gorge by Ken Newcomb is available for printing.

  • A trail map for printing will be posted by 2020.


Newton Tab Editorial

Friends' activist Jerry Reilly had an editorial printed in the Newton Tab. Regrettably we do not have a link.

2012 Spring Cleanup Friends of Hemlock Gorgeís Annual Spring Cleanup took place on Saturday April 21 and was a big success. We had more than 30 volunteers on a perfectly wonderful spring day. We extend our thanks to everyone who volunteered, to the DCR staff and Site Supervisor Erica Aubin who provided support, and to Dunn-Gaherin's Restaurant who generously provided lunches for the volunteers. For a photo album of the event when available click here.

Website enhancements delayed

With regret we have to announce that modernization of our website is delayed indefinitely.

The "Memory House" at Hemlock Gorge

Friends member Bob Burke not too long ago wrote a lovely guest columnist article about Hemlock Gorge and the Friends' activities that has appeared in the Newton Tab. Highly recommended. Click here to read it.


Echo Bridge in the Fall



News Stories

General Reservation News:

We have moved older Echo Bridge stories that have appeared on our web site to our Archive of News Stories. This is where you will find news of awards, encroachment, politics and such. For news about key concerns of the Friends like the adelgids, Echo Bridge, and the Stone Building are below.

In Waban, there was trouble with the trails along the river. See an opinion article and accompanying blog  by Jerry Reilly and a front page news article, both in the Newton Tab.


Finding the History in Hemlock Gorge Reservation

Sunday, June 22, 2:00 PM

This walk took place on a gorgeous day, with about three dozen people in attendance. Everyone agreed that Hemlock Gorge is both a beautiful place to walk and the site of much historical importance as Newton's first industrial center. Old maps and photographs helped the group to visualize the mills that were located on the island and along the Charles River and to appreciate the importance of Worcester Turnpike/Route 9 to the area's commerce. The walk was expertly led by Lucy Caldwell-Stair, with whom the gourp found the site of the 1893 Echo Bridge Park amphitheater and the cave, the "Devil's Den," where Native Americans stored dried fish.


Adelgid News

Summer 2014

The woolly adelgid has now been in the reservation for some 15 years, and it is unclear how many of the hemlocks will survive.

We have moved older adelgid stories that have appeared on our web site to: Archive of adelgid news stories. We have archived the entire saga of the adelgids' appearance, our efforts to pass legislation to combat them, the release of the predator ladybugs in 2001, and follow up analyses in the Friends' Adelgid News Stories Archive. Below are some highlights and links.

  • The Newton Tab declares the Adelgid Vanquished! (2005) Click here to view the story.
  • The Arnold Arboretum's Response to the Adelgid (Winter 2005)  Click here to view the story.
  • Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Website (January 2005) The USDA Forest Service now has a website dedicated to the woolly adelgid. The site includes all the of the USDA's newsletters on the pest, pictures, and a great deal of technical information. Interestingly, the Forest Service is looking at several different control insects, not just the P. tsugae ladybugs we released. Click here to go the to US Forest Service adelgid website.
  • Mark McClure, who was a leader in adelgid research and discovered "our" ladybugs, retired.
  • Release of the Ladybugs (2001) Click here for the story and photos of the release of the ladybugs
  • About our Ladybugs (2001) Click here to view the story.
  • About Adelgids (2000) Click here to view the story.  


Stone Building Project News

A Stone Building News Archive is available by clicking here

June 29, 2011

The new windows for the Stone Building, donated in 2002 and fabricated in 2008, are awaiting installation.

March 1, 2006

In early January, the Friends of Hemlock Gorge succeeded in our application for a Public-Private Partnership with the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). The Friends earmarked $2500 for a new floor and other repairs to the Stone Building, and that amount will be matched by the DCR. We will post a copy of the correspondence soon. This means that our long hoped for plans to make the Stone Building a great venue for Friends' activities will soon become a reality (February 2006). The new floor will, hopefully, be followed soon by the new windows, for which funds have already been generously donated by the Sangiolo Trust. On February 23, we were notified by the DCR that they are preparing to pour the floor very soon, and that the Friends will be asked for input on design.

Echo Bridge News

We have moved older Echo Bridge stories that have appeared on our web site to: Archive of Echo Bridge news stories.

Click here to read the history of Echo Bridge as written by the late historian Ken Newcomb in his online book, Makers of the Mold, published by the Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Occasional Notes: The Joys of Hemlock Gorge


  • To the right: the Silk Mill in 1905, before construction of the "Horseshoe" or Circular Dam. Note the lower water level. From a postcard recently found by Bonnie and Rick Pearson. Click for a larger image.
  • The Newton Conservators have a lovely page of photos of Hemlock Gorge. Click here to see them.
  • Richard Kramer has also put up photos of Hemlock Gorge to share with us. Click here to see them.

The Silk Mill Dam in 1905



Four Seasons of Hemlock Gorge
  • Panoramic photos of Hemlock Gorge taken by Steve Clark from the top of Echo Bridge show well the splendor of the Reservation and comprise the Friends' Four Seasons of Hemlock Gorge collection. Panoramas were pretty special back in 2000.
  • Click on the small images below to see the Panoramas full size. Note: If you are using Internet explorer, you need to hover your cursor on the image to see it full size. An icon will appear. Click on it, and the image enlarges.

Panorama of Hemlock Gorge in Spring

Spring 2000

Panorama of Hemlock Gorge in Summer

Summer 2000

Panorama of Hemlock Gorge in the Fall

Fall 2000

Panorama of Hemlock Gorge in Winter

Winter 2001, taken during the storm of March 5-6

Doug Cornelius posted a lovely account of canoeing through Hemlock Gorge a few years ago with pictures. Click here to see it.

Another collection of photos of Hemlock Gorge is at Boston Online: Click here to see them.


Publications of the Friends

Makers of the Mold, a full-length illustrated history of the Newton Upper Falls community which borders Hemlock Gorge, is available only on the Web. Authored by Historian, Conservationist, and Friend Ken Newcomb, who passed away in 2002. Copies of the print edition of The Makers of the Mold can be purchased online and are also available at several local restaurants, convenience stores and cafes. The full list of outlets can be found here.

A Walking Tour of Hemlock Gorge

This work is available onl at this Web site.

Schedule of Meetings of the Friends

Meetings are held at the Emerson Community Center on Pettee Street in Newton Upper Falls on the first Tuesday of the month unless otherwise indicated!

For a MAP showing the location, click here.

Other Dates and Events of Interest

The Friends' Resources and Archives

1. Our most important Resource is People!

2. History

3. Contemporary Challenges Facing the Hemlock Gorge Reservation

4. Local Governmental, Civic, and Conservation Organizations Online


Non-governmental Organizations

Our Archives

The Friends were honored with a beautification award from the City of Newton in 1997. Click here for the story. Click on the small picture to see a larger image of the award.