Tablet dedicated to the memory of Glenn Hubbard, killed in action in 1968

Tablet dedicated to the memory of Glenn Hubbard, killed in action in 1968

Mulpus Brook in the Town Forest

Mulpus Brook in the Town Forest

Today it goes by the name of the Henry E. Cowdrey Nature Center, but to locals it’s known simply as the town forest. Town forests may not be unique to New England, but they have certainly been a part of the landscape for as long as anyone can remember.

Located along Route 2A in Lunenburg, near the Shirley town line, the town forest encompasses several hundred acres. Mulpus Brook, a generous-sized stream, runs through it, as does an old stagecoach road, the ancient wheel ruts still clearly visible. Several trails crisscross the area, a favorite with horseback riders, birders, walkers, and pretty much anyone else who enjoys the quiet places.

Years ago, maybe forty years ago, someone undertook the ambitious project of building observation platforms, marking the trails, even building a shelter. These eventually fell to ruin from weather and vandals and the place was pretty much neglected for many years. Then more recently it seems to have gained new life. There’s even a new footbridge across the brook.

Just when it became town property I don’t know. I once read somewhere that at one time the town’s poor could come and get their firewood here. Town forests generally enjoyed a burst of interest at the beginning of the 20th century when residents realized that almost all their forests had been cut down, and forest management drew a lot of interest. But as other forms of fuel became more common, these town forests just became forgotten parcels of town-owned land. They seem to be enjoyinga renaissance of sorts, as recreation areas, places for nature study and contemplation.

This one has a very special place. Tucked away on the edge of a short looping trail, overlooking a broad wetland, is a stone memorial, dedicated to the memory of Glenn Hubbard, an early casualty of the Vietnam War. I was glad to see that someone has been keeping up the spot. There’s a park bench nearby, and the brush has been cut back, providing a beautiful view. When I first came upon it, I was caught off guard. I knew him vaguely. I was 17 when he was killed. He had graduated a few years ahead of me. I didn’t know about this marker. Maybe I was away at college when it was put up. As teenagers, a lot of us used to camp out in these woods. It has always been one of my favorite places. I found myself thinking this must have been a special place for him, too, and wonderful way to keep his memory here.

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