Tuesday, March 30, 2021

SCT February 2021 E-newsletter Featuring Brady's Island

Dear Members and Friends,

I can only begin by hoping that you are well and managing through these extraordinary times. It has been a long, difficult year since we came to realize that Covid-19 was a particularly dangerous threat. Small non-profit organizations are among the many groups working hard to figure out ways to keep active and in touch with members. On-line meetings are now the norm and digital communications of all sorts are so valuable, enabling board members and volunteers to keep in touch and keep at least some useful projects moving ahead. 

As always, we are very thankful for our members and their financial support even in difficult times. Please note that there are two ways to send your 2021 dues: wait for the envelope that will be coming soon with the paper SCT newsletter, or you can download and mail the membership form from our website. 

Your dues are important and help pay for technical assistance from the Compact of Cape Cod Conservation Trusts, for liability and other insurance, for field and trail maintenance, supplies, printing and postage. Thank you for being a member of the SCT! 

You’ve heard this theme from us before: a walk in the woods can do wonders for each of us in reducing stress and letting our enjoyment of the natural world take the place of the heavy thoughts of the day. Sandwich and all of Cape Cod is blessed with a variety of preserved lands with intriguing trail systems waiting to be discovered and enjoyed, a great gift. Also, keep an eye out for notices of future SCT sponsored walks. 

Stay well, 

John N. Cullity, President, and the Trustees of the SCT 

Land Through Time: Brady’s Island 

By John N. Cullity 

This column takes a look at a Town of Sandwich conservation parcel that is quite small, tiny, as preserves go, but uniquely placed within Sandwich Village itself. The article to acquire Brady’s Island was presented at town meeting in May, 1967. It passed, but not without some lively debate. There was, for example, a desire by some to build a new town hall on the island, just across Route 6A from the police and fire stations. Citizens interested in parks and conservation noted the unique opportunity to preserve this little gem, which at that time was a beautiful grassy rise with a few big trees, nearly surrounded by open salt marsh (no phragmites yet!) which overlooked a wide panorama of central Sandwich Village in a most appealing way. 

The island (actually half an island, as Rt. 6A was built across the middle of the original island) was kept mowed by the town for many years, and used rather lightly. For whatever the reasons, the effort to keep the area mowed diminished, and by the late 1990s invasive vegetation, notably Multiflora rose, was well established. In addition, the salt marsh edges all around the Sandwich Village inner marsh were filling in with phragmites, a sad loss of attractive views, from stretches of Route 6A and Tupper Road in particular. 

There has long been a desire to restore the island’s beauty and usefulness, and the Sandwich Department of Natural Resources presented an interesting plan to the public last year. Simply described by DNR Director David DeConto: “We are trying to return the area into a meadow with ample parking, signage, gazebo and kayak dock/launch area. So far we have cleared the area of invasive vines, established the parking area and we will be installing the information kiosk soon.” 

Here are some images of Brady’s Island: 

A portion of a U.S. Coastal Survey of 1861 showing Sandwich Village 

and what was then known as Tobey’s Island, unconnected to other upland.  It 

was very likely mowed for hay and probably saw some cultivation as well. 

At some time either side of 1870, the island was purchased by Hugh Brady (1831-1925), 

who worked for the Boston & Sandwich Glass for 40 years, then for the railroad. 

In this portion of Poole’s aerial drawing of Sandwich Village published in 1884, 

we can see the house and buildings built by Mr. Brady, accessed by a bridge. 

This circa 1900 view from Tupper Road, then known as Franklin St., shows 

part of the attractive small homestead and farm where the Brady’s raised at 

least some of their 10 children. Note the porch facing the town to the south. 

An early 1930s view of Brady’s Island framed by the village center to 

the south, and the expanse of undeveloped Town Neck and the bay 

to the north. Also visible is the newly-constructed Rt. 6A. 

This view from Moody’s field was taken by Rosanna Cullity 

in 1959, just before the Brady buildings were removed. 

This 1969 aerial shows how the island was bisected by Route 6A construction 

in 1930. In the early 1950s a combination fire and police station was built north 

of the highway. Some filling of the marsh for business development is evident. 

This 1985 aerial by the author shows the island before being overrun by invasive 

vegetation. The Sandwich DNR plans to restore the area back to this open 

appearance. Note the phragmites growth beginning along Tupper Road. 

John Ohman (1910-2000), who lived at 101 Tupper Rd.  In 1967 he worked with 

Conservation Commission member Dr. Shirley G. Cross in the effort to save Brady’s 

Island. John later played a significant role in land preservation during his 

chairmanship of the Sandwich Environmental Task Force during the mid-1980s. 

The Ohman Preserve. In 1987 John and Edythe Ohman donated 2.67 acres 

of marsh adjacent to Brady’s Island to the Sandwich Conservation Trust. 

The map is from Town of Sandwich website. 

One of several big trees on Brady’s Island, a small-leafed linden. 

Lynn Cullity photo. 

Stay well, stay in touch, and walk in the woods! 

If you would like to view and/or download the E-newsletter, click on the link below:

SCT February 2021 E-newsletter featuring Brady's Island

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Nature Run, Saturday, March 27, 2021

What is the Nature Run Club?

This running club is inspired by the beautiful trails and landscapes we are so lucky to have all across Cape Cod. To support these beautiful spaces, we ask for a $5 donation from each runner every week, which we donate to the land conservation organization that protects the areas we run through, or operates in the Town we run in. We run (and walk!) every other Saturday at 7:30am along a nature-inspired route. The upcoming run will take place on March 27 at 7:30 a.m. at Shawme-Crowell State Park, 42 Main St, Sandwich, MA 02563. We'll grab a post-run coffee from Cafe Chew. Our beneficiary this Saturday is the Sandwich Conservation Trust.
  • The route will be approximately a 5K.
  • Masks and social distancing are required.
  • We will postpone the run by a week if there is poor weather such as heavy rain, snow, or extremely low temperatures.
  • We are asking for a $5 donation per runner, which will be given to the nonprofit whose land we run on, or the one that supports land conservation in the town we are running.
  • We'll grab coffee and chat at a social distance after!
Click here to sign up for the run. Space is limited, so sign up early.

Questions?  Email Lillie, the Nature Run Club leader, at:  lilliepeterson@gmail.com

Shawme-Crowell State Park
Address for GPS: 42 Main St, Sandwich, MA 02563

From Hyannis
Follow Bearses Way to Route 28/Iyannough Road
Take Route 6 West towards Boston for about 9 miles
Take exit 59 for MA-130 N toward Sandwich
Turn left onto MA-130 N/Water St and follow for about 2.4 miles
Continue to follow MA-130 N. The park will be on your left.

From the Bourne Bridge
At the Bourne Rotary S, take the 5th exit onto Sandwich Rd E
Continue onto MA-6A E and follow for about 4.5 miles
Slight right onto MA-130 S/Main St. The park will be on your right.

Hope to see you getting into nature with a group graciously donating to our cause.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Mosquito Control at Elinor's Woods

The Cape Cod Mosquito Control Project (CCMP) visited Elinor's Woods (http://www.sandwichconservationtrust.org/p/elinors-woods.html) to assess and address ponding issues on the property in early February. The small pond by the first bridge on the Eagle Trail was cleared of debris that had fallen in the vicinity and the creek. This debris was causing overflow onto the trail. Mosquitos develop in standing water, so restoring a healthy flow to the Cow River is a great benefit. Thank you CCMP!

The CCMP is funded through our state taxes. To learn more about them, visit their website https://www.ccmcp.net.

Elinor's Woods Trailhead Sign

Map of Elinor's Woods

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Osborne-Sherman Vegetative Control, November 2020

Osborne-Sherman Vegetative Control

A vegetative control project at the Osborne-Sherman property on Gully Lane was made possible with the major assistance of AmeriCorps Cape Cod Supervisor for the Upper Cape, Dan Flockton, and his able assistants, Alaina, Ally, Mattea and Nicole.  Rather than being overwhelmed at the sight of our "jungle," these four young women, and Dan, dove right into the Rosa rugosa briars, tackled sumac and brought the bittersweet into submission, in their efforts to clear both sides of the northern fence line.  They had an excellent work ethic and proficiency in using hand tools and power equipment to accomplish their goals.

Thank you to AmeriCorps Cape Cod for helping to improve an SCT property!

Overgrown fence

Property in need of vegetative control

Assessing the work

Tackling the fence

Finished product!

AmeriCorps Cape Cod team

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

SCT Annual Meeting

The Sandwich Conservation Trust will hold its annual meeting at 2 p.m. Sunday, November 1, 2020, in the parking lot of the Maple Swamp Conservation Area, 75 Service Rd., E. Sandwich, MA 02537.  A brief meeting will include election of Trustees.

* Rain date is 2 p.m. Sunday, November 8, 2020.

Due to the current pandemic, there is no guest presentation, and no food or beverages will be served.  This a a contactless event.  All attendees must follow CDC guidelines regarding social distancing and wear masks.

For more information, please contact:
John Cullity 508-888-7629 or Joe Queenan 508-833-0861

Monday, September 7, 2020

SCT E-newsletter, August 2020

 Dear Members and Friends,

Greetings to you once again from the SCT trustees, and we hope that you are staying safe and well.  At least we’ve got the summer weather to enjoy, though drought conditions exist as I write this.  We can, however, be comfortably outdoors, active, a little safer, and as we pointed out in our last newsletter, we can visit our many and varied conservation lands.

In this issue I continue the theme of looking at conservation land through history, as much as available maps, photographs and information allow.  I’m thinking of it as a recurring column, and I’ve chosen what I think is an appropriate name:  Land Through Time.  This approach hopefully makes the lands more interesting and meaningful.  

We last looked at the Goodell Preserve in East Sandwich, 16 acres of marsh that lie along a straight, fast-moving stretch of Route 6A; a preserve that has no trail system but offers visual refreshment, valuable habitat, and which was donated in honor of a beloved parent.  In this issue we will examine another SCT preserve that shares all of these qualities, but is very different in character – the Cross Preserve.

Before we begin, I want to thank the members who responded to our recent dues reminder letter during this difficult time.  We had a good response – a needed boost!  I will also take this opportunity to thank the SCT Board of Trustees – a devoted and hard working group of volunteers.


                                                                                                John N. Cullity
                                                                                                President, SCT

Land Through Time

By John Nye Cullity

The Cross Preserve by the Two Ponds

Route 6A is a wonderful old road, with interesting scenery and a good share of the attractive antiquity that we associate with Cape Cod.  It has been through some changes (read: straightening) that are bound to come with population and tourism growth, but it still more or less follows the route of the County Road laid out in 1684 by the colonists.  This early “highway”, as it was sometimes referred to in town records, was itself based on the very ancient Native American pathway that led down the Cape. This path had very little straightness to it, for it had to follow what the untouched topography dictated: around hills, swamps large and small, and salt marsh inlets.  As civilization progressed, with animal power and iron tools the way became straighter: a cut into a banking here and there, a simple wooden bridge, earthen causeways across swamps and salt marshes.  More on this later.

The Cross Preserve is located on the north side of Route 6A just west of the busy intersection with Quaker Meetinghouse Road, and adjacent to the water feature commonly called “the Two Ponds”.  It is bounded on the north by the railroad. The preserve is 2.56 acres, much of it wetland, and provides 518 feet of forest edge along this straight stretch.  My guess is that in the interest of safety few drivers turn their heads to look at these woods, or study the green SCT sign tucked into the edge.  Even so, it’s a nice bit of undeveloped woods and it will stay that way.

We are thankful to Peter N. Cross of Boxford, MA, who donated this parcel to the SCT in 2006 in honor of his parents Dr. Shirley G. Cross and Dr. Chester Cross, both remarkable citizens of Sandwich. They moved to Sandwich in 1941, with an interest in cranberries.  Their home was at 10 Spring Hill Road, in the ¾ Cape built by Joseph Nye in 1837.  They also purchased three cranberry bogs near Hoxie Pond in East Sandwich, which they farmed into the mid-1980s.


The Crosses had many talents, were hard workers, charmingly old-fashioned, and active in town committees.  Shirley specialized in botany, and began the wildflower garden named after her at the Green Briar Nature Center.  For some years she served as president of the Thornton W. Burgess Society.  Chet worked for, and in time was head of, the Cranberry Experimental Station in Wareham. 

He served on the Sandwich Planning Board for many years.  Shirley joined the Conservation Commission in the 1960s.  They were both passionate about preserving land and worked together on some important acquisitions.  At the first town meeting I attended in 1972, I was impressed with their effort to convince the meeting to purchase 27 acres of Sandy Neck lying in Sandwich.  They also fought hard (and there was resistance!) for the Briarpatch, the Ryder property and other important parcels.  They were my inspiration to become involved with land preservation.  I drive by the Cross Preserve nearly every day, and I often glance at the woods and the sign and think of Chet and Shirley and how much they loved this town.

Shirley Cross 1916-2008

This preserve was once part of a wetland referred to as “the Canoe Swamp” in 17th century town records.  Unsuitable for farming, it may have served as a woodlot connected to the farm at the corner of 6A and Quaker Meetinghouse Road.  It was acquired by the Overseers of the Sandwich Monthly Meeting of Friends (Quakers) at some point, and it is from that group that Peter Cross acquired this piece in 1976.

It’s now time to consider an important question about the “Two Ponds”: When were they created by putting the main road through and where did it run previously?  

The Cross Preserve is outlined on this map taken from the Town of Sandwich website.  Note how
Quaker Road (now partially discontinued) makes a large bow north of the Two Ponds.  At the top of the map is the 1810 Quaker Meetinghouse and associated buildings. This was the original path of the
County Road – all traffic – pedestrians, horse and oxen drawn vehicles, even herds of cattle with their market-bound drovers used this route by the Friends meetinghouse, to avoid the Canoe Swamp.

This portion of the U.S. Coastal Survey of 1861 shows the Two Ponds area when it was 
meadow and swamp. According to the late Sandwich Archivist Barbara Gill, the earthen 
causeway supporting the road was built in 1832 to make travel easier. A related question 
would be, where did the large amount of fill come from?

The Two Ponds were likely created in the 1880s or 90s when cranberry bogs were constructed in the wetlands leading from Spring Hill Road out towards the beach. The upper part of the Two Pond area had many springs. At some point a reservoir for flooding the bogs below was created by raising the water level at the culvert that runs under the railroad. The constant flow of the springs made this operation possible. This portion of a 1951 aerial photo shows what was then still an agricultural landscape. Sandwich Archives photo.

In 2007 the cranberry bog owner drained the Two Ponds, probably to flood the bogs below for water-picking. This shows one of the springs, which in colonial times undoubtedly served the William Allen house, which was built a short distance uphill in 1672. It was taken down in the 1880s. The land south of the Two Ponds is the 46 acre“Sullivan Piece”, purchased by the town for conservation in 1986.

This 2013 view looking towards the Cross Preserve shows the ponds drained again (left). 

The same view in 2020, with the pond in place but quite full of water lilies (right).

This view is from a pre-1910 postcard looking towards East Sandwich. 

The end of the Cross Preserve can be seen. Note the early telephone poles.

In July I visited the Cross Preserve and took a few pictures in the thick growth. I was impressed by the
variety and size of trees growing on the higher land at the west end. I found white and black oak, red
maple, pitch pine, white pine, a black willow, a big multi-trunked holly and one tall, straight aspen. As
stated earlier, there is no trail system, no parking, just a nice piece of woods and wetland, with some
scenic water-frontage.

Once again, our thanks go to Peter Cross for his gift, and to his worthy parents who did so much for the
Town of Sandwich.

In the moist shade, this Indian Pipe or Ghost Plant (Monotropa uniflora) was found 
at the Cross Preserve. Instead of utilizing sunlight and chlorophyll to grow,  
it is a parasite, obtaining nutrients from tree roots via a particular fungus host.

Except as noted, images were taken by or owned by the author.

If you wish to learn more about the SCT, visit our website, where you can also download a membership form. We also gratefully accept donations to our Land Maintenance Fund. Thank you!



John N. Cullity


(508) 888-7629

Vice President, Membership

Joseph A. Queenan, Jr.


Brian Kelly


Deborah A. Gannett


Cliff Irving

Peter Thomas

Nancy McHugh

Jack Vaccaro

Robert O’Connor

Steven C. Touloumtzis


John N. Cullity

Webmaster, Facebook

Nancy McHugh

You can download the PDF version of the SCT E-Newsletter here: