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Property History

Gates of the Charles - our first reservation

The history of Rocky Narrows

Within 30 years of the Pilgrim landing at Plymouth, settlers had migrated inland along the Charles River Valley. By the 1650s, settlers were clearing land for farms, and the river played a central role in the growth of the community to be named Sherborn. Indeed, what we know as Rocky Narrows was called the “Gates of the Charles” in the Colonial era. Both the Wampanoag people and Puritan colonists considered the granite-walled river passage strategically important. This was particularly true during King Philip’s War (1675–76), when Native Americans fought back under the Wampanoag leader Metacomet, called “King Philip” by the Puritans. Visit King Philip’s Overlook off the Red Trail for a great river view – and a glimpse into Massachusetts’ early history.

In 1897, renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., acting as acquisition agent for Augustus Hemenway, deeded to The Trustees of Reservations 21 acres on the river known as Rocky Narrows, the “Gates of the Charles.” It became The Trustees’ first reservation.

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Visit the Rocky Narrows page for photos, information on admission, nearby events, directions, a property map, and more
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