MYSTIC RIVER HISTORY

17th Century and before: the ‘MissiTuk’ | The Mystic River was home to Native Americans for many years. They named it “MissiTuk,” meaning “great tidal river” in reference to the Mystic’s tidal waters. Both Native Americans, and later Colonists, used weirs to catch alewives (river herring) to fertilize their crops.

 Ten Hills manuscript map created by farm owner, John Winthrop.

Ten Hills manuscript map created by farm owner, John Winthrop.

1631: “Blessing of the Bay” | The first ship built by Europeans in Massachusetts, launched from the shores of the Mystic River. Shipbuilding on the Mystic dates from earliest Colonial times and peaked in the 1840’s. Schooners and sloops transported timber, molasses for rum distilleries, and other products, along the trade route between Medford and the West Indies. Later, railroads and then a system of roadways replaced the River as a transportation route.

 The Mystic River before and after construction of I93.

The Mystic River before and after construction of I93.

1637: Ten Hills | One of the Mystic area’s first European settlers was Massachusetts Bay Colony Governor John Winthrop. He built his summer retreat, the Ten Hills Farm, on the banks of the Mystic.

1734: Slades Mill | Tidal mills were built along the Mystic River to harness waterpower to grind grain and spices, saw wood, and process textiles. Built to grind corn and tobacco, Slades Mill is among the first built in MA.   

 The Amelia Earhart Dam.

The Amelia Earhart Dam.

19th Century: Clipperships | By the 19th century,  10 shipyards along the Mystic River built over 500 clipper ships.  Known for their incredible speed, clipper ships became popular for international trade.

1956-1963: I93 | Construction of Interstate 93 narrowed and straightened the course of the Mystic River.  1955(left); 1969 (right). 

1966: Amelia Earhart Dam | The dam converted surrounding salt marsh into freshwater marsh to allow further development on the coast.