Noanett Garden Club
Noanett has been
A member of The Garden Club of America since 1923 
 The Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts since 1929.  

Noanet Brook

The History of Noanet Brook


[This historical information on Noanet Brook and the description of the course of the brook was compiled in 1981 for the Conservation Committee of the Noanett Garden Club by Frances Converse, Daphne Prout and Rose Weld, who were grateful to Miss Amelia Peabody for information on the restored dam on her property, "Mill Farm."]


Noanet Brook was named for the Indian Chief Noanet, whose tribe originally settled in the Noanet Brook area in the 1600s. According to the book by Frank Smith, A History of Dover, Massachusetts, Chief Noanet lived on the bank of the brook, set his weirs in the Charles River where he caught salmon, shad, and alewives, and taught his methods to the early settlers. Chief Noanet held a distinguished position and was a friend of Reverend John Eliot. Thus, at a later time, the Indian tribe moved to Natick to merge with the Praying Indians of Reverend Eliot.


 The settlement of Chief Noanet's tribe ranged from a village at the "elbow of the river," the present site of what is now called Elm Bank, thence downstream and including the high land east of the mouth of Noanet Brook, later to become known as Noanet Farm. A major settlement during the short span of years between 1650 and 1680 was Noanet's weir, located off Willow Street on a peninsula formerly owned by Mrs. George Weld. Here the brook empties into the Parker Pond, which drains into the Charles River.


 Directly across the Charles River at another peninsula stretching out into the Charles, which is currently Needham Conservation Land, was the site of Chief Noanet's wigwam. In 1680, "Noanet's Weir" along with other land was sold to the town of Dedham and at a later period became a part of Dover.


Noanet Brook is one of two prime tributaries of the Charles River, whose course lies entirely within the bounds of Dover, the other being Trout Brook (Great Brook is its older name). The source of Noanet Brook is just off Walpole Street almost directly across from Paul Fryer's pond. It flows northward through the beautiful land formerly owned by Miss Peabody, encompassing several ponds above the "Mill Dam.” Miss Peabody told us that the brook once had its source in a pond which has since become a cranberry bog.


            When she bought the property, it was originally called "The Widow's Bower." This spot is     the watershed divide between the Charles and Neponset Rivers. The brook eases its way                 through an area behind the John Gray property below Jack Wylde's land off Dedham Street.

Again, delving into the past, the historical significance of Mill Dam, as it is called today, was the site of a major industry in Dover. During the year of 1810, the Dover Iron Works constructed a towering stone dam at the location of Noanet's flume, just below Noanet Pond. This was built by 14 people, six of whom were Dover residents. The Mill rolled out and split iron to make strips for barrel hoops, nails, and supplies for blacksmith shops. The Mill was phased out after 20 years of operation. During the ensuing years, Mill Dam suffered damage, mostly through weather. Not until the 1920s when Miss Peabody purchased her 999, was reconstruction of the old stone dam started.

Mr Roland Wells Robbins, co-author with Mr. Evan Jones of the book Hidden America was giving a talk some 60 years ago before the Dover Historical Society. Miss Peabody was in the audience and told him that on her farm was a breached dam that had once retained a mill pond. She was curious to find out if there was a waterwheel on this stream similar to the ones he had described. Mr. Robbins arrived at her farm to find a great mound of rubble covered with February snow. Here the great stones of the dam spilled down, piling up on the side of the waterwheel and mill, leaving a breach through which ice-encrusted water flowed from the pond above. With two diggers and a mechanical crane with a clamshell bucket, the picture soon changed. In spite of days when the thermometer registered six below zero, they were able to clear away the dam rubble, including 3/4-century old trees that had grown in it, and cut through the frozen soil to find the stone wheel pit and a large section of the 36-foot overshot waterwheel at the bottom. They had unearthed the site of the Dover Union Iron Company, its furnace and warehouse whose foundations were still sharply outlined in the original soil.


(This information is from Mr. Robbins' book. Illustrations in Mr. Robbins' book showed equipment which was uncovered at the dam site on the Noanet Brook and of the restored dam on Miss Peabody's property after the completion of the dig.)