In the 1948 Annual Report of the Town of Kingston, the Board of Health reported:
On October 20th, 1948, a fin-back whale came ashore north of the town pier [today’s town landing] at the foot of River Street. Measuring 42 ft. in length and weighing approximately 30 tons, this would ordinarily have been a human interest story, but it developed into a Board of Health problem when this Board was forced to dispose of the mammal. Our Highway Department with the assistance of power machinery, loaded the whale on a heavy-duty platform trailer and carried it to the Town Dump where it was suitably buried.
After the dump closed a few years later, the Kingston Drive-In was built on the site. Today this location is occupied by Summerhill Plaza, so yes, indeed, there is a whale buried under the Stop-n-Shop!
Here’s a quick look at one of the first negatives I’ve scanned in the Local History Room. This is Emily Drew’s photograph of Elm Street at the Jones River. The Pumping Station is just out of the frame to the right side.
Meanwhile, somebody’s best friend is nosing around for a treat.
The Pumping Station
Kingston’s municipal water system was proposed at Town Meeting in 1884, legislated in 1885 under “An Act to Supply the Town of Kingston with Water,” and implemented in 1886. The system officially began operations on August 10 that year. While the actual water supply came from wells, Jones River water power supplied the mains and the reservoir (see this earlier post) via “a Blake duplex power pump…capable of…228 gallons per minute…driven by a 30-inch Burnham turbine water-wheel of 17 horse power,” according to the Water Commissioners’ Report, March 1, 1887. Though the station was electrified around 1905, the system relied primarily on inexpensive and traditional water power through the 1930’s, except in times of low water or during repairs to the dam and equipment.
As early as 1704, the water privilege on the north bank of the Jones River at Elm Street powered industry: a grist mill was replaced by a fulling mill, which preceded a shingle mill. Finally, the Town bought the rights to the water power and built the pumping station. Here are two views from the south side of the Jones River. In the 1920’s a new concrete dam replaced the old wooden version, shown in the earlier photo.
Sources: PC-14 Kingston Water Department; Vertical File: Water Department; Life on the River: The Flow of Kingston’s Industries (Elliott, 2005)
The exhibit for April in the Local History display case is a selection of early 20th century color postcards showing Kingston buildings and places.
Stop by and take a look!
Lying at the foot of River Street, the Town Landing provides access for boaters to the Jones River, as well as a lovely place to sit and watch the water flow into Kingston Bay. These two photos were taken by Ted Avery in April 1975.
Forty years earlier, this was the site of one of Kingston’s Emergency Relief Administration (E.R.A.) projects. Between April and August 1935,
The old wharf was raised 18″ and extended 25′ out into the Jones River, 90 cu. yds. of stone was laid and pointed, 28 piles were set and held in place with iron straps, a cement cap 18″ wide 1′ thick reinforced with iron rails using 40 bags of cement was put on top of the extention [sic], 105 cu. yds. of stone was used, 300 cu. yds. of gravel for filling, also 100 cu. yds. of mud was excavated from river and used for filling.
Edgar W. Loring donated the stone, while Dr. Arthur B. Holmes contributed the pilings. When complete, the entire project cost $3191.04. Asked in the final engineering report how the public benefited from the project, George P. Holmes, the Town’s E.R.A. Administrator, replied “This wharf at present is the only public landing place for fishermen and yachtsmen in Kingston and the extension to low water mark is greatly appreciated by same.”
More recently, in 1997 the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management gave $32,000 in Seaport Bond funds to the town, allowing the Waterfront Committee to replace older wooden floating docks (visible in both photos) with 20 modular aluminum versions. In 1999, Chris Tura completed his Eagle Scout project by dedicating the “Independence Memorial Park” at the Town Landing, complete with a historical marker, granite curbing and refinished picnic tables and benches.
Sources: Town House Attic II papers; Town Annual Reports; Vertical File: Independence Park.
Emily Fuller Drew took this photograph “expressly for the booklet” The Story of Jones River, which she and Sara Y. Bailey completed in 1920. The original caption reads “Flat House Dock. The home of Joseph Bradford, youngest son of the Governor. It is said that the name was given because of the flat roof of Mr. Bradford’s warehouse at the wharf.”
The area, known as the “Short Reach,” was also the site of a lumber yard, probably supplying timber for ship builders. Facing north, Emily shot this image standing near the spot where today Route 3 crosses the Old Colony Railroad tracks, seen in the foreground. In the background left, Captain Joyce’s stone house at 5 River Street is visible, with the Bay Farm at right in the far distance. The Jones River takes a reverse S-curve here.
It is one of my favorite landscapes.