Mill Pond Preserve webpage
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About Mill Pond-Charlestown Land Trust
Mill Pond is an 80 acre property owned and managed by The Charlestown Land Trust (CLT). Mill Pond is a special part of our region’s history as well as a place for quiet walks set in woodland on the edge of a pond. The remnants of a once thriving trout hatchery are also present. The CLT has built a trail system on the property which was opened to the public on Earth Day, 2005.
Originally this land was part of The American Fish Culture business (AFC) and was called the Cross’ Mill Hatchery. fish hatchery AFC was based 10 minutes north of Cross’ Mills in Carolina, RI. Between 1900 and 1950, the business expanded to include the Carolina Hatchery, Tanner Trout Farm, Perryville Hatchery and a Berkshire-based hatchery. The Cross’ Mills Hatchery was their last acquisition added about 1950. Cross’ Mills drew water from Mill Pond which has springs that are up to forty feet deep and ten feet wide. These springs produce 200 gallons per minute at a steady temperature of 48 degrees year round – perfect for raising rainbow trout. During the 1940’s-1950’s, AFC was New England’s largest private hatchery, shipping two hundred thousand pounds of trout to fishing clubs region wide and to the Fulton Street Fish Market in NYC.
Running a hatchery was not always easy, however. Poaching by both humans, otters and birds of prey had to be dealt with, and the meandering flow of the water under Rte 1 between the hatchery and the ocean was a worry for AFC. A caretaker’s house was built by Charlie Dyson, and today houses equipment belonging to Crystal Springs, a company selling spring water.
Over time there was a steady decline in private hatchery business so that in 1995 AFC was ready to sell. According to Oliver Hazard, the then President of AFC, the property was within an “eyelash” of being sold to the Suntory Group of Japan. With 6 hours to go, the Nature Conservancy stepped in and the land was saved. Ultimately, the land was transferred to the CLT and was opened to the public on Earth Day 2005.
Mill Pond Trails crisscross the Mill Pond land. The trials were created by volunteers during the winter of 2005. The South County Conservancy Board hopes that you will enjoy your visit here. Look elsewhere on our website for opportunities to join “work” days to keep the trails clean and clear for all to enjoy.
Mill Pond Preserve is located on RI-2, just north of the US-1 intersection. Going north it is the first driveway on the right after the entrance to Simple Pleasures. Look for signs. Visitors should wear sturdy shoes and are encouraged to bring binoculars. No restroom facilities on site.
From Mill Pond Preserve webpage