Babcock Preserve
North Street, Greenwich, Fairfield County, CT
297 acres


Directions:

07.1 from Hastings-on-Hudson to US 287
12.6 Merritt/Hutchinson Parkway exit
13.3 exit 9N for Merritt Parkway
16.5 exit 30s Rye Brook/Greenwich
16.7 Connecticut line
20.0 exit 28
20.8 exit 29
22.4 exit 31 Greenwich Business District
turn right at stop sign
23.1 turn left into entrance for Babcock Preserve


Geology/ Topography:

The East Branch of the Byram River transects the property on the west.

Horseneck Brook is on the east. Both streams contribute to Putnam Lake, one of the Town reservoirs.


History:

Pre-Colonial times nomadic native Americans used these woods as a seasonal hunting ground.

c. 1720 the land cleared for farming., and the forests.

Mid-19th century farming abandoned.

1880 the Greenwich Water Company bought the land to protect the watershed of Putnam Reservoir.

1908 Mary Reynolds Babcock (whose father was R. J. Reynolds of the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company) born. She attended a private school at Reynolda, the family estate.

1929 she married Charles Henry Babcock, an investment banker from Philadelphia. They lived for a time in Greenwich, Connecticut.

She was the mother of Mary Katherine, Barbara, Betsy Main, and Charles Henry, Jr.

1934 they moved to Winston-Salem where she acquired Reynolda.

1936 Mrs. Babcock inherited $30 million from her father making her one of the richest women in the world. She became an outstanding philanthropist.

1937  the Merritt Parkway separated the Putnam Reservoir from its watershed. The land was sold to Mary Reynolds Babcock and Charles H. Babcock, Jr.

1951 she and her husband gave three hundred acres at Reynolda to Wake Forest College and the college moved from Wake County to Winston-Salem where a completely new campus was built.

1953 Mrs. Babcock died. Her will left funds for what became the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation helping people get out of poverty.

1972 the Town of Greenwich acquired the property, partly by purchase and partly by gift from two Babcock heirs, Mary Babcock Mountcastle and Betsy Babcock, both keenly interested in conservation.

1975 - an exercise trail built. (It fell into disrepair and has largely been removed.)

1980 a rock shelter, spear flints and a millstone dating to 2500 BC, were found on the property.

1983 the Conservation Commission completed a use and maintenance plan for the Preserve. To attract more townspeople to make use of the Preserve, the plan suggested such improvements as a picnic area, footbridges and boardwalks.


Habitats:

mountain laurel hills, oak forest with black and yellow birch, vernal ponds, some swampy areas, small ponds, brooks


Wildlife:

Mammals white-tailed deer, mice, rabbits, chipmunks, bats, squirrels, river otter, and woodchucks.

Birds hooded warblers, great horned owl.


Sources:

Dictionary of North Carolina Biography: Mary Reynolds Babcock. http://www.wfu.edu/academics/history/HST_WFU/mbabcock.htm

Town of Greenwich, Department of Parks and Recreation: Babcock Preserve.  http://www.greenwichct.org/ParksAndRec/prFABabcockPreserve.pdf


Trails:

2/26/2002.  Made an somewhat oblong walk. Took the yellow-blazed Yellow Birch Trail that heads between west, northwest and north and came back on the red-blazed Red Maple Trail heading between south, southeast, and east. Connecting the Yellow Birch Trail on the south with the Red Maple Trail are a lot of east-west trails that one passes and that can be used to shorten the walk: from east to west the White Oak Trail, the Mountain Laurel Trail, the White Ash Trail, the Flowering Dogwood Trail, and the Blueberry Trail. I walked out on they Yellow Birch Trail then took the blue-blazed Blueberry Trail that connected me with the Red Maple Trail. Got tired of the constant mountain laurel areas and shortened the walk by transferring back to the Yellow Birch Trail by taking the connecting gray-blazed Mountain Laurel Trail.


PLANT LIST:
Dr. Patrick L. Cooney
February 26, 2002


Trees:
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Betula alleghaniensis (yellow birch)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Carpinus caroliniana (musclewood)
Carya ovata (shagbark hickory)
Carya sp. (hickory)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Ilex opaca (American holly) a few
Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree)
Picea alba (Norway spruce)
Pinus strobus (white pine)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus prinus (chestnut oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)

Shrubs:
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
Euonymus alatus (winged euonymus)
Gaylussacia baccata (black huckleberry)
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)
Ilex crenata type? (holly bush)
Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel)
Ligustrum sp. (privet)
Lindera benzoin (spicebush)
Lonicera morrowii (Morrow's honeysuckle)
Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)
Rubus phoenicolasius (wineberry)
Rubus sp. (blackberry)
Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry)
Vaccinium sp. (a low-bush blueberry)
Viburnum acerifolium (maple leaf viburnum)
Vinca minor (periwinkle)

Vines:
Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet)
Dioscorea villosa (wild yamroot)
Smilax glauca (sawbrier)
Smilax sp. (greenbrier)

Herbs:
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)
Allium vineale (field garlic)
Cypripedium acaule (pink lady's slipper)  supposed to be in the park
Veronica officinalis (common speedwell)

Sedges:
Carex laxiflora type (sedge)
Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)

Ferns:
Dennstaedtia punctilobula (hay-scented fern)
Dryopteris marginalis (marginal woodfern)
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Polypodium sp. (rock cap fern)
Thelypteris noveboracensis (New York fern)

 

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