HCT Speaker Series: Harvard’s Stone Wall Mysteries Solved

Join Geologist and New England’s expert on stone walls, Dr. Robert Thorson, as he decodes mysteries from the thousands of stones that make up stone walls laid by colonists, Native Americans & enslaved people. Thorson writes “[Stone walls are] a visceral connection to the past. They are just as surely a remnant of a former civilization as a ruin in the Amazon rain forest.” Professor Thorson reveals why New England is uniquely situated to be the quintessential landscape for stone walls and the work that communities are doing to preserve them.

Have questions about Harvard’s old stone walls? Professor Thorson will join us on September 28, 2021 at 7:00 pm for an interactive Zoom presentation. During the second half of his presentation, he will examine several evocative images from Harvard, showing what local “wall-watchers” might see that “bird-watchers” might not. A question and answer session will be offered at the end of the presentation.

Click here to register for Harvard’s Stone Wall Mysteries. This is a free event, but you must register by September 25 to attend. You will receive an online invitation with Zoom login details two days prior to the event.

About Professor Robert M. Thorson
Dr. Robert M. Thorson is a Professor of Geology at the University of Connecticut, the author of seven books including Beyond Walden: The Hidden History of America’s Kettle Lakes and Ponds; The Guide to Walden Pond, Walden’s Shore: Henry David Thoreau and Nineteenth-Century Science, Exploring Stone Walls, and Stone by Stone: The Fascinating History in New England’s Stone Walls, and the coordinator of the Stone Wall Initiative, New England’s premiere resource for historic stone walls.

Hike HCT’s Storybook Trail featuring The Gruffalo

Experience “The Gruffalo” at HCT’s Storybook Trail!

When: August 13th – September 6th from dawn ’til dusk

Where: Start at the Burgess-Brown Land trailhead entrance at the end of Murray Lane in Harvard, MA

Cost: Free of charge


Ideal for young readers of all skill levels, the storybook trail at Brown Burgess Land offers an opportunity to experience a children’s story while wandering along a ½ mile path through the woods. Join us for the first time or return to experience this trail again and again in all its summer glory!

About the Gruffalo
The Gruffalo, written by Julia Robinson, is a playful and beloved story about a clever little mouse and a monster in the woods. When mouse goes for a walk in the forest, he invents tales of a fantastic creature called a Gruffalo to scare off his enemies. Imagine his surprise when he meets a real Gruffalo!

Walking The Burgess-Brown Trail
The walking loop at Brown Burgess land (http://www.harvard-trails.com/brown.html) is an enchanting one for hikers of all ages, offering new discoveries around every corner. The trail begins by crossing a meadow with vestiges of old apple trees and a small pond. You then enter piney woods and pass by a spectacular glacial erratic rock structure which triggers the imagination of young ones. Mysterious stone piles and stone walls along the walk remind us how this forest was once farmed land.

Tell Us About Your Experience
We hope that the story book trail offers a new adventure and way to experience our beautiful town for you and your little ones! Please share your feedback and photos by emailing us at sights@harvardconservationtrust.org.

Hike the Storybook Trail at Burgess-Brown Land

Introduce your children to the wonders of spending time in the woods with HCT’s inaugural storybook trail, featuring Owl Moon, the children’s book by Jane Yolen. Now open from March 15th – April 2nd, you’ll find the start of the walk at the Brown-Burgess Land trailhead entrance at the end of Murray Lane in Harvard, MA. Ideal for young readers of all skill levels, the storybook trail offers an opportunity to experience Owl Moon while wandering along a ½ mile path through the woods. Each station contains two pages of this children’s book, chosen to help build connection between your children and the natural world around them.

About Owl Moon

Owl Moon is a gentle and poetic story about the companionship of a young child and her father as well as our relationship as humans with the natural world. The 1988 Caldecott Medal winner for John Schoenherr’s stunning illustrations, the book has been translated into nine languages, been an ALA Notable Book, a Reading Rainbow book, a Junior Literary Guild selection, and on dozens of state award lists.

Walking The Burgess-Brown Trail

The walking loop at Brown Burgess land (http://www.harvard-trails.com/brown.html) is an enchanting one for hikers of all ages, offering new discoveries around every corner. The trail begins by crossing a meadow with vestiges of old apple trees and a small pond. You then enter piney woods and pass by a spectacular glacial erratic rock structure which triggers the imagination of young ones. Mysterious stone piles and stone walls along the walk remind us how this forest was once farmed land.

Tell Us About Your Experience

 We hope that the story book trail offers a new adventure and way to experience our beautiful town for you and your little ones! Please share your feedback and photos by emailing us at sights@harvardconservationtrust.org.

New Year’s Day 2021 Poetry Walk

This year our traditional HCT New Year’s Day Walk will be modified in keeping with best practices for safety during the pandemic. We are hosting a Poetry Walk on the Burgess-Brown land, and participants are advised to walk alone or in small groups that maintain appropriate social distance.  A favorite HCT trail traverses this landscape and scattered along the path you will discover, among the trees, poems about winter and new beginnings. We hope that the self guided and reflective nature of this activity helps us all to confidently step into a bright and hopeful new year, when we can breathe a little easier and look forward to positive changes.

To access this wonderful piece of property for your first steps into the New Year, park at the turnaround at the end of Murray Lane. The poetry walk will be well marked. Happy New Year!