Follow a loop trail through quiet woodlands, then visit the site of a former lead mine used by Indigenous peoples and, later, European settlers.
Tantiusques (“tan-te-us-quays”)—a Nipmuc word meaning “to a black deposit between two hills”—was the site of one of New England’s first mines. The Nipmuc tribe originally mined graphite here to make paints. In 1644, John Winthrop, Jr., son of the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, purchased the mine with hopes of extracting lead and iron. Between 1829 and 1860, Frederick Tudor, who made his fortune selling New England ice around the world, shipped around 30 tons of graphite a year to Boston to manufacture crucibles used in foundries. Captain Joseph Dixon worked with Tudor before leaving to produce the first wood and graphite pencil in the country and founding the Dixon-Ticonderoga Company.
A short loop trail leads you through quiet woods; a spur trail passes through the Leadmine Wildlife Management Area and ends at the Robert Crowd Site. Watch for the foundations of the house and barn of the African American and indigenous man who worked at the mine in the 1850s. Further evidence of the site’s past rewards the careful observer: the mine cut along the top of the ridge is the partially filled-in remainder of what was once a several thousand foot-long trench—20 to 50 feet in depth and roughly 6 feet in width, which followed the vein of graphite.
Free to all.
Sturbridge, MA 01566
From Mass Turnpike (I-90), take Exit 9 to merge onto I-84 West. Take Exit 1 toward Sturbridge. Turn right at stop sign onto Mashapaug Rd. and follow south for 1.5 mi. Turn right onto Leadmine Rd. and follow for 0.9 mi. to entrance and parking (4 cars) on left.
We recommend that you take a photo of the map on your phone so you can refer to it during your visit, or download a trail map before you head out.
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In the days before the arrival of European colonists, Tantiusques was mined for graphite, also called “black lead,” by the Nipmuc. The Nipmuc used the material to make ceremonial paints. In 1644, John Winthrop, Jr., son of the first Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, purchased the mine and the surrounding land from the Nipmuc and began the first commercial mining operation on the site.
Old lead mine
Forest scenery at Tantiusques
Snowy entrance to old mine
This is a quick little hike, shouldn't take more than 20min ... Beautiful views and a little bit of terrain. Recommended any time of year.
– Tyler Bulak, Google Review
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