SOME REMINISCENCES OF WEYMOUTH

IRON WORKS


By Q. L. DUNN


Three separate lines of manufactures have served to put Weymouth "on the map," and through them our town may justly claim to have contributed its share of the necessities and comforts of life: first, the iron works, whose nails helped to build the houses over our heads; second, the shoe factories, whose products keep men's feet from the ground; third, the phosphate works, which help to grow the food for our interiors.

The iron works have come and gone, just as have the industries of the neighboring town of Hingham; her rope walks, bucket factories, salt works, her big fleet of mackerel schooners (handliners) all crowded out by the march of progress.

Fifty years ago the iron company was the biggest industry in town, and a strong, if not the greatest, factor in building up East Weymouth. To the older natives these are moving landmarks showing plainly the changes made by its coming. Let us try to picture in our minds the Back River and Herring Brook before its coming. Whitman's Pond was then less than one-half its present size,and in the spring the spawning herring ran directly into the Pond. There was, or had been, a tack factory across the private way from the garage on Water Street, and earlier still a grist mill on what was called Herring Island. Ever hear of it? It is the triangular piece of land between the bridge on Pleasant Street at the beginning of Iron Hill Street and the one opposite the junction with Water Street, the two streams uniting near the garage on Water Street. The old gambrel-roofed house and the old Urban Rice house opposite are on Herring Island.

Early in the forties came the "Company," as we will henceforth call it. At that time, except for the houses on Pleasant Street (few in number) and a part of Broad Street to the west of Jackson Square, all west was pasture and meadow. The outlet of the pond found its way down between the hills, now partly dug away, and through the meadow to the salt marsh. There was no railroad then, and the fresh and salt meadows extended from the rear of the Peake's building to Hockley Gut. The Company had before it a big job, for those days, at least. First, they had to buy a strip of land from the pond to Back River and land or flowage rights about the pond. The first flowing did not enter Humphrey's Cove that was bought and flowed some years later. Then the building of a the several dams and the canal, taking from the hillsides the material