The Squaw Sachem and Her Red Men (cont'd)

Winchester itself lies some eight miles from the salt water of Boston Harbor, but so gradual is the descent thereto that the center of the village is scarcely twenty-five feet above sea level. The hills that lie about the town rise some two hundred feet above it; in the case of Horn Pond Mountain about four hundred feet.† The houses of the town fill most of the level floor of the valley, which varies from a mile to a mile and a half in width, and they creep up the hillsides as well, especially on the side toward the Middlesex Fells. Those which stand on the high ground of Highland Avenue or of Myopia and Andrews Hills command prospects as wide and as attractive as can be found anywhere in the immediate neighborhood of Boston. In the Fells themselves the people of Winchester share with those of the neighboring towns and cities of Melrose, Stoneham, Malden and Medford the advantage of having at their very doors a lovely forested park, whose striking beauties of hill and dale, bold ledges of rock, sparkling ponds and melodiously running brooks have been, as far as is possible, preserved for the enjoyment of those who love the charm of nature unspoiled by the artifices of man.

This Mystic Valley of which we speak has a very interesting geological history. Thousands upon thousands of years before any man, white or red, looked upon it, it was the course of the great river which today we call the Merrimac, then a much wider and deeper stream than it is today.† There was then no great bend at Lowell; the river flowed in a nearly straight line southeastward from the mountains and lakes of New Hampshire. It poured its flood of water right down the valley where Winchester now stands, through the bed of the present Mystic Lakes, and then directly across the ground where Cambridge, Allston and the south end of Boston were later built, and so into Boston Harbor and the sea, the shores of which lay several miles further to the eastward than they do today. Geologists can trace that old river bed through almost every foot of its course by the deposits of gravel and silt that the water laid down.

Then-perhaps forty thousand years ago-came the Ice Age. All this part of New England was buried for ages under an immense sheet of ice. Eventually conditions changed again; the glaciers melted and disappeared; but as they did so they left behind

† See Notes and Comments

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