Lake Cochituate

Lake Cochituate is a body of water in Natick, Wayland, and Framingham, Massachusetts, United States. Originally a reservoir serving Boston, it no longer serves that function, and is now a local recreational resource and home to Cochituate State Park.

Lake Cochituate
Lake Cochituate
South Pond
LocationMiddlesex County, Massachusetts
Coordinates42°18′20″N 71°22′20″W / 42.30556°N 71.37222°WCoordinates: 42°18′20″N 71°22′20″W / 42.30556°N 71.37222°W
Catchment area17 sq mi (44 km2)
Basin countriesUnited States
Max. length3.76 mi (6.05 km)
Surface area625 acres (2.53 km2)
Surface elevation154 ft (47 m)
SettlementsNatick, Wayland, Framingham


Lake Cochituate consists of three linked ponds known as North Pond, Middle Pond, and South Pond. A large peninsula in South Pond is the site of the US Army Soldier Systems Center, and the eastern shore holds the trails of Pegan Cove Park. Middle Pond is home to Cochituate State Park, which includes boat ramps and a picnic area. North Pond is the site of both Wayland Town Beach and Saxonville Beach of Framingham.

On the edge of Middle Pond is the new MathWorks Lakeside campus[1]. This building was originally a Carling brewery, built in 1957. The former Saxonville Industrial Track runs alongside sections of the lake, which brought supplies to both the Carling Brewery, the ITT Continental Bakery, and a Green Stamps warehouse located on the edge of the lake in an area formerly called an industrial park. The Cochituate Rail Trail will run along the lake on the former track's right-of-way, from downtown Natick to Saxonville, a section of Framingham.

The three ponds and their connector ponds cover a total of 625 acres (2.53 km2). South of Cochituate, the 40-acre (160,000 m2) Dug Pond is the site of Natick High School. The Lake Cochituate watershed, part of the Sudbury River watershed, encompasses 17 square miles (44 km2) in Natick, Wayland, Framingham, Ashland, and Sherborn. This in turn is part of the Concord River and Merrimack River watersheds. Cochituate is also the name of a village in Wayland.

In 2005, a severe thunderstorm occurred that produced a violent microburst that knocked down dozens of trees and injured some visitors, according to the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. Two teens, Ahmie Harman and Valeria Barbier, had a tree fall on them, while another teen, Oliver Barbier, was caught in the lightning storm. Though sustaining injuries, all soon recovered. A memorial plaque, in witness of the event, has been placed there to remember them and others who survived the storm.[2]


Lake Cochituate 1847
Lake Cochituate circa 1847

Lake Cochituate was created by the construction of Lake Cochituate Dam to provide a reservoir for water supply to the city of Boston, via the 14-mile (23 km) Cochituate Aqueduct. Lake Cochituate was the first major water supply system built for the city, and replaced the previous usage of Jamaica Pond. Developed from 1848 to 1863,[3] it supplied Boston's water until 1951, by which time it had been supplanted by the larger Wachusett and Quabbin Reservoir supplies. The surveys and plans for the project were performed by civil engineer James Fowle Baldwin (1782–1862), the son of Loammi Baldwin who designed the Middlesex Canal, and younger brother of Loammi Baldwin, Jr. (1780–1838) who authored the earlier studies for a Boston water supply. Its 1890 dam, replacing two older dams on the lake's northwestern outlet, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The former gatehouse for the Cochituate Aqueduct is located on the east side of the lake.


The following is taken from the local "Natick Superfund" website regarding the toxins currently found in Lake Cochituate.

A solvent-contamination plume is in the groundwater below Building 36. Monitoring well testing found chlorinated solvents leaking from underground into two portions of the Lake Cochituate shoreline. Sensitive tests have detected these solvents in lake waters and sediments.

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in Lake Cochituate and Pegan Cove: PCBs have been found at the Natick labs in soils and in lake sediments near Kansas Street and the T-25 outfall, likely caused in part by a PCB transformer explosion in 1984.

Ecological toxicity testing found that lake sediments were toxic to aquatic life. Oxygen-poor conditions in the sediments were also factor. Bluegill, bass, and eels all show PCB contamination near the Army Labs, at levels up to and greater than 5,000 parts per billion. Animals (including people) eating these fish would ingest enough PCBs to be harmed. A review of Massachusetts Fish and Wildlife data showed that Lake Cochituate fish have PCB levels up to 180 times higher than the statewide average.

A warning against eating bass and eels is in effect for Lake Cochituate due to PCB contamination. Fish from Natick's Lake Cochituate should not be eaten due to the proven PCB contamination. No PCB cleanup is planned because the Army assumes that no one is eating more than 1/3 of an ounce of de-skinned lake fish fillet per day. Those who eat more fish, or any amount of eels, or unskinned fish will receive higher exposures to PCBs. The Army determined that Natick's animal populations were large enough to absorb the deaths of the animals which forage around the Natick Labs.

The Army added three new monitoring wells to the area between the Labs and the Town of Natick drinking water wells beside Route 9 (Worcester Road) near MathWorks Lakeside campus. These wells will improve the odds of detecting chemicals as they are drawn into the Town's water supply wells.


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Leonard B. Dworsky, Division of Water Supply and Pollution Control, United States Public Health Service, 167 pp., 1962.
  • "Lake Cochituate Resource Portal". Retrieved April 12, 2010.
  • "Cochituate State Park". Retrieved November 24, 2007.
  • "Cochituate Rail Trail". Retrieved April 28, 2017.
  • Report on Introducing Pure Water Into the City of Boston. By Loammi Baldwin, Jr., published 1834, 78 pages.
  • Report on Introducing Pure Water Into the City of Boston. By Loammi Baldwin, Jr., published 1835, 143 pages.

External links

Beacon Hill Reservoir

The Beacon Hill Reservoir (1849-c. 1880) in Boston, Massachusetts provided water to Beacon Hill from Lake Cochituate. It could hold 2.6 million US gallons (9,800 m3). By 1876, the reservoir no longer distributed water, but rather functioned as a storage facility; it was dismantled in the early 1880s.

Cochituate, Massachusetts

Cochituate (; koh-CHIT-choo-it) is a census-designated place (CDP) in the town of Wayland in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 6,569 at the 2010 census.

Cochituate Aqueduct

The Cochituate Aqueduct was an aqueduct in Massachusetts that brought water to Boston from 1848 to 1951.

Cochituate State Park

Cochituate State Park is a Massachusetts day-use state park located on Lake Cochituate in the town of Natick. The park is managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation.

Dorchester Heights

Dorchester Heights is the central area of South Boston. It is the highest area in the neighborhood and commands a view of both Boston Harbor and downtown.

Dudley Pond, Cochituate Massachusetts

Dudley Pond is an 84 acre Great Pond in the Cochituate census-designated area of Wayland, Massachusetts. The Pond is a shallow glacial landform fed primarily by rain.Dudley Pond was used in the mid-1800s as a stand-by water source for Boston. At the time it was connected by pipe to the nearby and much larger Lake Cochituate. In the 1920s and 30s the Pond became center for nightlife and Prohibition-breaking, with a concomitant decline in habitat and sanitation. Efforts to restore the environment beginning in the mid-century returned the Pond to a high standard of water quality.

More recently Dudley Pond has been primarily a vacation spot, residential area, and community recreation site. Notable residents of the Pond area include the late Ted Williams and current resident George Howell. The Pond currently has one eatery, The Dudley Chateau. Recreation activities include public fishing and boating.

The Pond is owned by the Town of Wayland, on a long-term lease. Since 1968 its health and habitat have been monitored by the Dudley Pond Association, a non-profit corporation.

Dug Pond

Dug Pond is a small body of water in Natick, Massachusetts. Most notably it is home to Memorial Beach, one of few swimming beaches in Natick, and its eastern shore is the site of Natick High School.

Historic places in Framingham, Massachusetts

This is a list of historic sites in Framingham, Massachusetts. There are several notable historic sites in Framingham, according to the Framingham Historical Society. This local society asserts:

While there are many historic spaces in Framingham, the Centre Common is the focal point for the town's past. Three of the town's most historic buildings on the Centre Common face "demolition by neglect." The Village Hall, the Edgell Memorial Library, and the Old Academy building not only house over 10,000 artifacts spanning four centuries of the town's history, but they are symbols of Framingham's commitment to educational excellence, civic engagement, and community pride.

One historic site is Shopper's World which opened on October 4, 1951 (as Shoppers' World), making it one of the earliest suburban shopping malls in the country.

James Fowle Baldwin

James Fowle Baldwin (April 29, 1782 – May 20, 1862) was an early American civil engineer who worked with his father and brothers on the Middlesex Canal, surveyed and designed the Boston and Lowell Railroad and the Boston and Albany Railroad, the first Boston water supply from Lake Cochituate, and many other early engineering projects. He was the first president of the Boston Society of Civil Engineers and served one term as a Senator from Suffolk County to the Massachusetts Senate, then served as a Boston Water Commissioner.

Lake Cochituate Dam

The Lake Cochituate Dam is a historic dam on the southwestern side of Lake Cochituate in Framingham, Massachusetts. The 62-foot (19 m) dam was built in 1890, replacing two earlier wooden dams, dating back to the 1846 construction of the Cochituate Aqueduct. The core of the dam is granite rubble laid in concrete. Lake Cochituate was taken out of service as part of Boston's public water supply in the 1930s, and the lake and dam were eventually turned over to the state, which established Cochituate State Park.The dam was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.

List of rail trails in Massachusetts

This list of rail trails in Massachusetts details former railroad right-of-ways in Massachusetts that have been converted to trails for public use and proposed rail trails where trails exist but have not been fully established.

Massachusetts Route 126

Route 126 is a north–south state highway in Massachusetts.

Nathan Hale (journalist)

Nathan Hale (16 August 1784 – 9 February 1863) was an American journalist and newspaper publisher who introduced regular editorial comment as a newspaper feature.

National Register of Historic Places listings in Framingham, Massachusetts

Framingham, Massachusetts, has 18 locations listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

This National Park Service list is complete through NPS recent listings posted June 14, 2019.

Old Connecticut Path

The Old Connecticut Path was the Native American trail that led westward from the area of Massachusetts Bay to the Connecticut River Valley, the very first of the North American trails that led west from the settlements close to the Atlantic seacoast, towards the interior. The earliest colonists of Massachusetts Bay Colony used it, and rendered it wider by driving cattle along it. The old route is still followed, for part of its length, by Massachusetts Route 9 and Massachusetts Route 126.

In lean years of the early 1630s, when the Massachusetts Bay Colony ran short of grain, Nipmuck farmers in the valley of the Connecticut River loaded some of their abundant surplus maize into birch-bark backpacks and trod a familiar route to the settlements at the mouth of the Charles River, where they traded food for European goods made of copper and iron and woollen cloth. Fur traders and the exploratory party of John Oldham (1633) penetrated this first of the trails west into the continent's interior. In 1635, some settlers from Watertown took this route when they removed to Wethersfield, Connecticut.

In 1636, the outcast Thomas Hooker and a hundred of his congregation, with 160 cattle, whose milk they drank en route, followed the Old Connecticut Path in a two-weeks' journey to the Connecticut River. There they settled in a place the native Lenape people called Suckiaug, because of the blackness of its earth. They founded the English settlement of Hartford. By 1643, documents in the village of Sudbury called this trail the "Old Connecticut Path." In 1672, with the establishment of a postal system, it became the first colonial post road.

Long native usage had emphasized the easiest route, skirting the water meadows of the river bottoms and crossing streams at the most dependable fords. The Path led west along the north bank of the Charles River from New Town (Cambridge) to newly settled Watertown and passed through what are now Waltham and Weston, curving southward where it entered the southeasterly section of the new town of Sudbury, now set apart as Wayland, where a section of the route still bears the name "Old Connecticut Path". At Wayland, the Bay Path, later the Boston Post Road, diverged from the Connecticut Path, headed west through Marlborough, Worcester and Brookfield straight toward the Connecticut River. In Sudbury the Connecticut Path was known as "the road from Watertown to the Dunster Farm", for after passing along the north side of Cochituate Pond, it crossed the tract beyond that was granted to Henry Dunster, president of Harvard College, and the lands of Edmund Rice and Philemon Whale. The trail crossed the Sudbury River at "Danforth's Farm", since 1700 incorporated as Framingham, where another section (Route 126) retains the name "Old Connecticut Path", threading past the northern shore of Lake Cochituate. The Connecticut Path headed west, threading between the Charles and Sudbury rivers on its way to the Connecticut River. "From Framingham the Old Connecticut Path runs southward through South Framingham, Ashland (Megunko), Hopkinton (Quansigamog), then through Westborough and over Fay Mountain, to the praying town of Grafton (Hassanamesit/Hassanamisco), through Sutton and then beyond to Woodstock, Conn.", and west to the bank of the Connecticut River opposite Hartford. During the trip to Connecticut the Path crosses the Blackstone River, that crossing was known as the North Bridge and the Quinebaug River crossing was known as the South Bridge, both Northbridge and Southbridge were named after those well-known landmark locations.

Quabbin Reservoir

The Quabbin Reservoir is the largest inland body of water in Massachusetts, and was built between 1930 and 1939. Today, along with the Wachusett Reservoir, it is the primary water supply for Boston, some 65 miles (105 km) to the east as well as 40 other communities in Greater Boston. It also supplies water to three towns west of the reservoir and acts as backup supply for three others. It has an aggregate capacity of 412 billion US gallons (1,560 GL) and an area of 38.6 square miles (99.9 km2).

Reservoir Park (Massachusetts)

Reservoir Park is a historic park on Boylston Street in Brookline, Massachusetts. Its principal feature is Brookline Reservoir, formerly an element of the public water supply for neighboring Boston. The reservoir was built in 1848 as the main terminus of the now-defunct Cochituate Aqueduct, which delivered water from Lake Cochituate in the western suburbs. The reservoir covers 21.1 acres (8.5 ha), and is roughly kidney-shaped. A gravel path extends around the perimeter of the reservoir. The park is bounded on the north by Boylston Street (Massachusetts Route 9), on the west by Lee Street, on the south by Dudley Street, and on the east by Warren and Walnut Streets.There are two structures in the park. At the western end of the reservoir stands the Influent Gatehouse, the endpoint of the Cochituate Aqueduct. This is a modest utilitarian structure built out of dressed granite, about 11 feet (3.4 m) by 12 feet (3.7 m) and 11 feet in height. Its interior houses equipment for managing the flow of water from the aqueduct into the reservoir. The Principal Gatehouse, in contrast, is a more elaborate structure. It is located at the northeastern end of the reservoir, and is a two-story building partially buried in the embankment. It is built, like the Influent Gatehouse, of dressed granite, but was designed to be a public space. Its main facade has Renaissance Revival elements within a Greek-style temple front. The corners of the building have quoins in a paler shade of stone, and there is a course of that same stone in between the two floors. It has a gabled roof with a fully pedimented gable end, decorated with dentil stonework. The facade is three bays wide, with a centered entry on the lower level. The entry is recessed behind an arch that is flanked by round columns supporting an entablature. The entry is flanked by small elongated round-arch windows. The upper level consists of three larger equal-sized round-arch windows. The upper level of the building also has a facade facing the water; this also has three round-arch windows.Because the Principal Gatehouse was intended as a public space, its interior was also finished, unlike that of the Influent Gatehouse. The walls were plastered, and there were stairs, constructed of wrought iron, which were used to reach a platform giving a view of the water. These staircases are believed to the oldest surviving example of wrought iron stairs intended for public use in the United States. (They are predated by surviving stairs in lighthouses and a prison, and by public stairs in other countries.) The building's roof is also believed to be the only surviving period roof supported by wrought iron trusses.The park was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. The architectural significance of the gatehouse and its status as the best-preserved element of the Cochituate Aqueduct were recognized in its designation as a National Historic Landmark in 2015.

Sudbury Reservoir

The Sudbury Reservoir (2.02 square miles) is an emergency backup Boston metropolitan water reservoir located in Framingham, Marlborough, Southborough, and Westborough, Massachusetts. Nearly 5,000 acres (2,000 ha) in the Sudbury Reservoir watershed are administered by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation as a limited-access public recreation area.The reservoir was first begun in 1878, as part of a system of reservoirs fed from the Sudbury River to supplement the Lake Cochituate system in Natick. Today's reservoir was created by excavation from 1894-1898, with construction undertaken in sections. It was begun by the City of Boston but completed by the newly formed Metropolitan Water Board (predecessor to the modern Massachusetts Water Resources Authority). All told, construction required moving about 4.5 million cubic yards of soil and boulders. Water began to fill the reservoir on February 8, 1897, with construction of the reservoir's new Sudbury Dam on the Stony Brook Branch of the Sudbury River completed later that year.When completed, the reservoir's surface area was 2.02 square miles (5.2 km2), its average depth was 17 feet (5.2 m) and maximum depth was 65 feet (20 m), and its capacity was 7.253 billion US gallons (27,460,000 m3). The reservoir was fed from the Wachusett Reservoir on the west by the Wachusett Aqueduct (1898), and by local streams. To improve the water quality of the local streams, filter beds were constructed adjacent to the reservoir. The reservoir's water was delivered to the Weston Reservoir to the east by the Weston Aqueduct (1901), or via a channel to the Framingham reservoirs and the Sudbury Aqueduct to the Chestnut Hill Reservoir.

In 1947 the obsolete Whitehall, Hopkinton, Ashland and Cochituate reservoirs became state parks, and in 1976 the entire Sudbury System was officially reclassified as an emergency water supply. Today only the Sudbury Reservoir and the Foss Reservoir (Framingham Reservoir No. 3) remain as reserve drinking water supplies with the Weston and Sudbury aqueuducts serving as reserve transmission. In an emergency the Sudbury and Foss reservoirs can be placed into service either as a primary source, as an alternate pass-through for Quabbin/Wachusett reservoir water in the event of a transmission problem blocking the normal transmission pathways, or as a supplemental source in a major drought. In all cases the water would be untreated and would likely require boiling for consumption.

United States Army Soldier Systems Center

The United States Army Soldier Systems Center (SSC) is a military research complex and installation in Natick, Massachusetts charged by the U.S. Department of Defense with the research and development (including fielding and sustainment) of food, clothing, shelters, airdrop systems, and other servicemember support items for the U.S. military. The installation includes facilities from all the military services, not just the Army, and is so configured to allow cross-service cooperation and collaboration both within the facility and with the many academic, industrial and governmental institutions in the Greater Boston Area.

The SSC is sometimes called the Natick Army Labs, although this designation more properly refers to one of its tenant units, the United States Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC).


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