Archaeological studies indicate that the area was an important encampment for Wampanoags some 1,800 years ago. Those who camped at Red Brook used clay cooking pots, sharpened stone blades, and ate seafood, deer meat, and other game.
European settlers had different uses for the land. Pitch pine was processed into tar, herring and alewife were caught during their spring runs, and bogs were mined for iron ore then planted with cranberries. The land was finally settled by Uriah Nickerson in the 1830s. The Lyman house, located across the street from the parking lot, was built in 1840 by the Nickerson family.
The Theodore Lyman Reserve honors the naturalist who, in 1867, first experienced Red Brook during a site visit for the Massachusetts Board of Inland Fisheries. For the next 30 years, Theodore Lyman III (1833 – 1897) worked to protect Red Brook by purchasing parcels of land on both sides from source to mouth. He eventually acquired a total of 638 acres, and for six generations the Lyman family used the area as a fishing camp, drawn by the “salters” that still run this course. In 2001, the Lyman family generously donated the entire Red Brook property to ensure its protection in perpetuity.
Lyman’s legacy is preserved in the form of the 638-acre Red Brook Reserve, which is comprised of the 210-acre Trustees reservation, and the 428-acre Red Brook Wildlife Management Area, supervised by the Mass. Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. Management for the entire reserve is overseen by The Trustees, Mass DFW, and our conservation partner, Trout Unlimited.