The weather should be good today. Take a three minute walk from Massachusetts Avenue, north along the Alewife Brook. And check out the kid-friendly Alewife GHOST FISH art installation and Somerville’s sewer outfall!
Before there was a sewer outfall at this location (behind the Homewood Suites Hotel), there was a second brook that met the Alewife Brook. 19th Century Cantabrigians called it the “Tannery Brook“. The Tannery Brook was used to discard hog bodies and other tannery waste products which polluted the water. Nowadays, the Tannery Brook is (un)dead and buried in a pipe that is attached to the sewer outfall. In 2021, this sewer outfall dumped 17.98 million gallons of untreated sewage pollution from Davis Square into the Alewife Brook.
A century before Cantabrigians polluted the Tannery Brook, the Alewife Brook was known by the native people as the Menotomies River. And it was the best place to catch Alewife fish! So plentiful were the Alewife fish, that the fish were used mainly for agricultural purposes, to fertilize soil for growing crops. The colonial settlers sited a fish trap, which is known as a weir, at this location. The settlers likely sited their fish weir on the remains of the native Pawtuckeog people’s fish weir.
Can you see the GHOST FISH? Can you hear the Pawtuckeog people and the sound of their Menotomies River?
The native people and their lost river are here, too.
How to get to there:
Take the Alewife Greenway behind the Homewood Suites Hotel at Mass Ave and Rte 16. The brown “x” marks the spot of the Ghost Fish Halloween Installation. This is a three minute walk from Massachusetts Avenue.