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Great Woods Entrance 1910

Lynn Woods Reservation - Lynn, MA

Great Woods Entrance Est.1910 - Lynn Woods Res. Lynn, MA

Does this picture look familiar?  Before you scroll your eyes through this paragraph to read the answer, look at the picture closely.  Are there any features and or structures that give you a hint? If you ride Lynn Woods often, you may have already guessed the answer.  The picture is what the Great Woods Entrance looking like at the turn of the 20th century.  This park entrance may be better known to most mountain bikers as the Ballfield entrance just off Lynnfield Street (RT. 129).


The exact date of this picture is unknown, but based upon the City of Lynn transportation records, it places the picture to have been taken between 1905 and 1915 and quite possible during a 4th of July Celebration.  If you were to stand in the same general area this picture was taken from, today you would be standing just in front of the Walden Pond water pump house.


There are still a few noticeable features today that stood the test of time and land developments. First is the fireplace and chimney for the Great Woods Trolley Station.  This structure stands today as a memory of its once existence.  Sadly a fire destroyed the trolley station before the 1920s and with the decline of people using the trolley, the station was never rebuilt.  The second feature still evident today is the large rock that is located just in front of the trolley station, but next to the left side of the last trolley (left trolley) in the above picture.  This is the same large rock that contains a number of drilled holes in the side and many riders use as the first technical jump to begin the ride.  A number of trees in front of the trolley station are now gone and much of the area has changed, but it is amazing these two features have remained intact for over 90 years.


The Great Woods Entrance was a meeting place for games, events and personal celebrations just as today.  Many events were much larger back then, but serve the same purpose.  As the picture shows, the area is filled with people attending some sort of event.  At the time, the photo was most likely taken from the large band stand that overlooked Walden Pond.  Overlooking Walden Pond from the field was possible at that time because the artificial earth dam was not built which raised the height of the pond.  Behind the trolley station existed a chairlift that took patrons up to the top of Sunset Mountain (really just a hill) providing a wonderful view of Walden Pond and the setting sun.  The top of Sunset Mountain is where much of the Ballfield Trail Network exists today and if you look around the hillside on your climb up from the parking lot, you will see the remains of the cement footings for the old chair lift.  There were also a set of stone stairs installed for those who were afraid to ride the lift up to the hilltop.

Great Woods Trolley Station - Picture taken 1892


History exists even for the Trolley line that provided service to Lynn Woods.  The trolleys you see in the above picture were operated by the old Boston, Revere Brach and Lynn Railroad  (B.R.B. & L.).  The B.R.B. & L. Railroad was a narrow gauge rail system that began operation in 1875 and ceased in 1940 after filing for bankruptcy.  The branch line that served Lynn Woods was added sometime between 1889 and 1892 running directly from downtown Lynn near the current MBTA commuter rail station.  With the commissioning of this rail system, The City of Lynn was the first in Massachusetts to operate an electric trolley in 1888. Much of the B.R.B. & L. cease to exist today except for the main line that still currently operates between Boston and Revere Beach. This line is currently operated by the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) and is better known as the Blue Line for us local residents.


Once used as a marshaling area for cattle to graze, it now has become a marshaling area for us mountain bikers to gear up and ride our bikes.  In the past century The Great Woods Entrance has seen a number of changes but today it’s a place for softball games, recreational events and for us mountain bikers to meet and share a day of great riding in one of the greatest places to ride…Lynn Woods!


The pictures used in this article have been released for public use and are not protected by copyright.

By: Diesel

Date Posted: 01/05/2009




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