Red Brook at Century Bog

Those who are fans of Ernest Hemingway will recall that ‘An End to Something’ is the title of one of Hemingway’s Nick Adams stories. In the frame work of the story, the end refers to the end of the relationship between Nick and his girlfriend. However, the ‘end’ that I’m talking about here is not a love story. In fact, one can say that there is no love between a cranberry bog and a salter brook trout stream. But relief is coming at last to Red Brook. This autumn will mark the last harvest of cranberries at the Century Bogs.

Writing a 1954 entry to the Red Brook Journal, Charles Lyman complains…”Nothing the cranberry bogs do helps the fishing.” By 1954, cranberry bogs had been impacting Red Brook for almost 100 years. As early as 1871, Theodore Lyman III wrote…”The heated water from Bartlett’s Marsh [draw down of bogs] has thrown back the trout…”

The first cranberry bogs to be established along Red Brook were built in the brook’s headwaters around 1860 by the Crowell family, and were named the White Island Bogs. This was the first large cranberry bog complex to be established in Wareham. In 1900 the bogs were purchased by A.D. Makepeace (hence, Century Bogs) whose descendents would eventually own 12,000 acres of land in Plymouth and Wareham.

When the Century Bog property (245 acres) was purchased by the Massachusetts Dept. of Fish and Game, the agreement allowed the A. D. Makepeace Company to lease the bogs for a number of years in exchange for restoration construction at the site after the needed permits were acquired by the Mass. Div. of Ecological Restoration and the Mass. Div. of Fisheries and Wildlife.

So yes, this is indeed an end to something, and some might call it the end of an era – but the decommissioning of the Century Bog is also the beginning of something. It marks the winning back of a salter brook trout stream – and this event may help to spark a new era.


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