Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Forgotten Sturbirdge: The Old Service Station

Mary and I enjoy taking long morning walks on the weekends.  On a recent walk, here in town, we came across more bits of "Forgotten Sturbridge".  I have seen these little pieces of hidden history many times before, and have always wondered about them, and that is where you come in.

I would like you to give a bit of history to the objects.  Don't ask me for hints, or help.  Except for the location, I am totally clueless on this one.  They are simply relics of another time that have been left undisturbed, and are slowly slipping away, like a hand beneath the waves.

This is all that remains of an advertising sign that is
slowly being swallowed by the tree.  Do you know
what this side says?

The other side of the metal sign shows a logo, and most
of the word "gas", and possibly a company name at the

This area is in front of a house.  Note the raised concrete "island", and
metal pole.  This is where gas pumps stood long ago on a road
long since closed to through vehicular traffic.

These remnants are located on Old Mashapaug Road.  Click here for a Google Map of the area.  Once you are at the map you choose the street view, and view the house, and the roadway where the tree that holds the sign is located.  

Old Mashapaug Road, at one time, ran from River Road along the Quinebaug River, and crossed the river on an bridge built in 1956, just before the Army Corp of Engineers took over the land for the construction of the Westville Dam.  That bridge, and a bridge at the intersection of Wallace Road, and Breakneck Road where Mashapaug Road ends further down river at the entrance to the seasonal park at Westville are also relics of the past.  Only used by the public for a couple of years before they were closed by the Corp of Engineers to through traffic, they look as strong as they did when first constructed in the village of Westville.  

Time moves very slowly here.

One of the walks we enjoy is to start the walk at the parking lot on Wallace Road, and walk on Old Mashapaug Road along the river, and over that 1956 bridge to the other side.  We then follow the road to a yellow pipe barrier gate that blocks the abandonded old road as it winds high over the river, and onto River Road.  At the end of the Corp of Engineers land, the old road returns to its lost life, and there are several houses along the open part of the road with the old service station being the first on the road near River Road.  

At River Road, we take a right, and walk along the road for a ways until we come to another one of those yellow barrier gates on the right blocking vehicular access to an old road that leads to the Ed Calcutt Pedestrian Bridge that has connected both banks of the river since 2002.  We cross the bridge, and follow the trail until we reach the parking lot again at the intersection of Wallace and Breakneck Roads.  The walk is three miles long, and has no steep hills, but a lot of views that you cannot see anywhere else in Central Mass. The views of the river from high above on the both sides of the river are simply amazing, you would think you were in the deepest parts of New Hampshire, or Maine.

We'll be walking again this weekend, and most likely will head to Westville again with a follow up cup of coffee at the Publick House Bakery.  Take the hike yourself, and check out some lost pieces of history along the way, and the wonderful views.  There are other relics along the way, but I won't spoil the surprises for you.

If you know anything about the old service station on Mashapaug Road, or anything else about this piece of "Forgotten Sturbridge" leave a comment, or drop an email to

1 comment:

  1. Wally: Although when the garage was there is well before "my time" my best
    guess is it was owned by a Curboy.....

    Will you be joining us on Saturday's trail day at Westville?

    Tom C


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