I have always loved helping out at cleanup events–so much more fun than housework, those repetitive chores that quickly become undone. There’s usually a sense of fun, working together, and then the job is done, at least for a while.
When I got the invitation to participate in the clean up of the Blackstone River bikeway in Millbury, I was interested for several reasons. One was to figure out where the heck the parking for this 3-mile section of paved railtrail actually is. Another was to be part of a group of folks doing something to make the trail better. And another reason was that I had only been on part of this trail several years ago and I wanted to see what was there.
What I found? A great group of folks from the Blackstone River Heritage Corridor. I met up with one of my walking buddies, Bonnie, so I gave her a “thank you” copy of the latest Easy walks 2nd edition.
Congressman Jim McGovern came in his work clothes and after thanking everyone who came, he headed out to take part in the cleanup. As he said, “I helped get the money to pay for this trail. I love to see people out here enjoying it.”
While the noise of Rt. 146 is pervasive, there are a number of bridges with great views that get travelers across the Blackstone River.
The river is quite close to the trail and while shallow, still provides habitat for birds, turtles, and more.
Fox News sent out a cameraman, who covered Congressman McGovern’s short talk, but then walked along the trail a ways. He took some footage of me tromping along in sandals and walking sticks, no trash bag or “picker” to grab trash. Perhaps this was to add some “color” to the newscast. I was there to spend a little time on my feet while my injured toe continues to heal. I also wanted to get pictures and see the trail. My job was to be the cheering section for all the hardworking folks who came to help in the cleanup effort today.
Millbury DPW guys joined in to help. These guys love the outdoors and were glad to be outside walking the trail and working to make this a nicer environment.
Liz Myska and Jack Peacock came down the trail as I was on my way back. Liz walked with a white cane, a pretty universal sign that she is sight-impaired. Jack walked beside Liz. We stopped in the shade to talk and found we had lots to share with each other. I look forward to seeing how this chance encounter develops into ways we may be able to work together on projects in the future.
Thankfully the heatwave of the past several weeks has broken so most folks were pretty comfortable with temps that were in the 70s.
But it was still warm in the full sun, and I saw folks sweating as they worked to remove small shrubs that were attempting to grab a foothold in the pavement along the edge of the trail. Those shrubs didn’t stand a chance in the face of volunteers’ determined efforts!
This is still a short section of trail, 3 miles in length, but there are some pretty views of the river along the way. To get to the start in Millbury, travel north on rt. 146 to exit 9, Rt 122A and hang a right onto 122A.The parking is almost immediately on the right, parking for about 15 cars. This is right at the edge of Millbury, near the Worcester town line. There is additional parking in Worcester.
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and editor of Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed. Just out is her latest book, Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress. She is a co-author of the recent community history, Bellingham Now and Then.