History Corner: Devil’s Den

A Stony Brook mill.


If you are on Facebook, please make sure you head over to Weston Historical Society’s page which is newly envigorated and the Owl can’t keep up with all the good stuff. Here’s one post that caught her eye–we had a Devil’s Den in Connecticut (Weston, of all the ironies) which is actually protected parkland that the Owl has hiked (and got lost) in as a child. CT won this one. Sorry, Massachusetts. Wish we had saved this one from the mining crapola (technical term).

From the WHS post:


Random Weston History: Devil’s Den

At the present-day Biogen-Idec site was once a place of great, natural beauty along Stony Brook and a wild legend. Col. Lamson set the scene: “…a little canon, enclosing the pool out of which the cascade fell from above, the waters of the brook came down the rapids white with foam, the banks covered with mosses and ferns, the oaks and hemlocks overarching the stream. Altogether it formed one of the most beautiful bits of natural scenery to be seen this side of the white mountains.” And the place of legend – Devil’s Den, “a place of refuse and deposit for thieves and their plunder” and where highwaymen would hide in the den and swoop down on unsuspecting stagecoaches.

A Waltham newspaper described Devil’s Den: “…rising almost perpendicularly to an altitude of nigh three hundred feet, is a hill of some forty acres composed of immense boulders, deep and perilous chasms, and all covered with a venerable growth of oak and walnut. A hundred feet back from, and perhaps sixty above the grade of the country road leading into Weston, is the entrance to Devil’s Den – a huge subterranean cavern under this hill which tradition says was the abiding place of the evil one in the days when ‘Old Nick’ is supposed to have perambulated this mundane planet…”

Central Avenue is now Boston Post Road. You can see Devil’s Den near the bottom of map


In the late 1890s, town leaders became concerned that Devil’s Den would be turned into a quarry. This was following the years when the City of Cambridge was taking water rights in Weston. So, the Selectmen petitioned the Metropolitan Park Commission to take the land for park purposes. The Park Commission was amenable to the request provided Weston shared the cost; however, as the petition work was occurring the land was sold and the Waltham Trap Rock Company began operating a stone crusher. This eventually led to the Mass Broken Stone Company taking over the site. Devil’s Den was part of the front pit operations.

Ah, progress. Route 20 at the bottom, Rte 128/I95 at the far right corner

All images credit: Weston Historical Society.

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