The Walpole Town forest was dedicated in May of 1916. The Lieutenant Governor, and future US President, Calvin Coolidge attended the dedication ceremony and planted the first tree. After all the speeches had been given, some 800 children planted over 1000 white pine saplings in an acre of land. Over the next several months, 11,000 more saplings were planted. Its creation was the brain-child of Charles Sumner Bird, Jr. He convinced his friend George A. Plimpton to donate land to make this dream a reality. Plimpton, who a few years earlier donated approximately 30 acres of abutting land to build the Plimpton Elementary and a new high school, donated 57 acres to establish the forest. About the same time Bird convinced the town to set aside money for the purchase of more acreage. Bird envisioned a forest that would become 800 to 1000 acres. Not only would this forest become a space for Walpole residents to recreationally enjoy, but also if managed correctly, it could be a source of income for the town with the sale of lumber. The expansion of the forest was put on hold until 1939 when two parcels of land were purchased, totaling approximately 101 acres, and by 1975 another 26-acre parcel was added. It should be noted that early articles on the opening of the town forest state Plimpton gave 150 acres, deeds show the donation was much less. Initially the forest was to have an outdoor amphitheater, miles of walking trails, a playground and a swimming pool in the Neponset River.
Over the years, more parcels of land have been added to the town forest, the most recent was the acquisition of Jarvis Farm in 2014. Today the forest has approximately 365 acres, although a swimming pool, an amphitheater and a playground were not built, the forest does have it has multiple walking and biking trails and visitors can enjoy such past times as birding and fishing. The forest does generate around $5,000 annually with the sale of lumber. The Walpole Recreation Department has hosted fishing derbies in the forest, plus they run a summer day camp at Jarvis Farm. For the most part, the Walpole Town Forest embodies Charles S. Bird original vision.
Photo credit on this page:
Walpole Historical Society