Beaver or Muskrat at Dam 2?

We've all seen the Winter Street Dam and spillway, but the other dam on the Stearns Reservoir is hidden away and a little harder to find.


This dam actually separates reservoir #2 (Bracket) from reservoir #1 (Stearns). Since the Sudbury River flows from South to North, Reservoir #2 is the first of the three Framingham reservoirs. (Confusing, huh?) Here is a picture of the dam and gatehouse taken in 1910. The surrounding area look much different today!

I first glimpsed the dam from the very end of Edgewater Street, and thought there was some sort of mechanical device on the waterfall.

A closer look revealed the remains of a walkway over the dam. I guess no one crosses the dam these days.

To actually get to the dam, you need to find a dirt road on Winter Street between Ardmore Road and Crest Road. The access road is next to a pretty house with stone wall and a nice garden.


The dirt road has a chain across it, but the sign says "no vehicle access beyond this point." It doesn't actually say no people allowed.

As we approached the water, we realized the view was familiar - very familiar. We had seen this dam from the back deck and yard of a house on Ardmore last year. I desperately wanted to buy that house for the view alone! It was a very small house, though, and very expensive compared to other houses on the street. I think it may still be for sale!

dam2 arboro

On this side of the dam you are looking at the Bracket Reservoir. It was quite beautiful the day we visited; calm and serene.

A flock of Canadian Geese were roaming around the gatehouse as we approached. The closer we got, the more nervous they acted. When we kept on coming towards them, they fell into formation and marched right into the water.

One of the geese swam right up to us, as if to show us he was not afraid of us.

dam 2 goose

The water spills over the dam into the Stearns Reservoir, where it spills over the Winter Street dam back into the Sudbury River.

The pattern of the flowing water is impressive and beautiful.

When standing next to the gatehouse, you can just about see the Singletary Street Bridge towards the Northwest. I didn't even know there was a bridge on Singletary!

Then we saw the animal swimming across the reservoir. What kind of animal? We still aren't sure! It's either a beaver or a muskrat. I thought it was a beaver for sure, not only because his tail seemed large, but also because it was so cute. (I've seen a muskrat before. It was crossing the road near Lake Massapoag in Sharon, and it horrified me. It looked like a horrendously large RAT!It definitely had a long, skinny RAT tail!) This animal was adorable. I also loved the circles of water that surrounding him as he swam.


This little guy had a really cute face and very large eyes! His tail appeared quite wide, too - but not at every angle. It could have been an optical illusion.


Even when he dived under water right in front of us, we were at right angles to his tail. It looked thinner, but we may have only seen the side of it.

muskrat tail

He left quite a wake as he swam away from us!

muskrat wake

In the end, we concluded that it was probably a muskrat after all. He disappeared into the rocks at the reservoir's edge, which is where muskrats make their homes. Beavers don't usually live in rocks. There was no hint of beaver activity in the area, either. (I still think it was a beaver, though. If it was a beaver, it would be the first wild beaver I'd ever seen>)


A final look at Dam #2 on a lovely spring day. The Bracket Reservoir is to the left and the Stearns Reservoir is to the right.

dam 2 gatehouse

Reminder: The Sudbury River flows into reservoir 2 (Bracket) in Ashland. Both reservoir 2(Bracket)and reservoir 3(Foss) flow into reservoir 1 (Stearns). The outflow of reservoir 1(Stearns)at Winter Street is the Sudbury River continuing on it's way.


  1. I believe that was a beaver you saw. I have photos of two beaver dams I discovered along the Sudbury Resevoir. One of them is very large. Not to mention a number of trees obviously cut down by beavers.

  2. Correction...the beaver dams are at Foss Resevoir! I think Google Maps labeled it incorrectly.

  3. I'm sure you're right. Now that I've seen both, it is much easier to ID which is which!


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