Millbrook Preserve is a Little Weird

98 Prospect Street, abandoned a decade and a half ago, sits overlooking the pond at the Millbrook Preserve.

I personally spent Halloween of 2020 at a pretty basic costume party, but I heard that some of you spent that particular Halloween partying in the abandoned house in the Millbrook Preserve. The preserve is a little swatch of woods that curls around the north edge of town, just 134 acres in total (one quarter square miles!). Tiny, really, for so many weird spots and stories. People get lost in the woods overnight, you find trails and landmarks that you can’t ever seem to find again and you run into a whole lot of weird trailside attractions. Here are a few such oddities hiding in our local nature preserve!

Weird thing one: The boot and the upturned car

If you walk along the yellow trail and head towards the big beaver dam, you’ll pass some funny things. There’s a car, to start with, but before the car there is a boot. A single boot that has been there, gently being taken over by plants, for as long as I can remember. I like the boot ­— but boots don’t usually last that long in nature without being picked up by an animal or tossed away in a storm. But the boot isn’t the main event on the yellow trail. It’s the marker that you’re on the right track to find the upturned car. The style gives you the sense that it ended up here, overturned in the Millbrook Preserve, several decades ago. The car has been there so long that it’s half sunken into the earth, melting into the forest around it. The whole undercarriage is rusted to heck, as you’d expect. Except for one part, the muffler, last I checked it is as shiny and clean as you can expect any brand new car part to be.

Weird thing two: The junkyard

If you manage to get lost enough, you might end up finding the old dump. If you’re not looking for it, you’ll walk right past it. But if you remember, keep a lookout for metal bits and old bottles. When those appear, turn off the trail and follow them past the treeline. In the woods, you’ll find every sort of decayed appliance — washing machines, sinks, ovens, rusted bits of an old computer — all decades decayed into the earth. You’ll think the first spot of junk you find is it, but it’s bigger than you think. Keep poking around past that first pile.

It’s worth noting that this tiny preserve also boasts a second dumping ground, by the Harrington Street entrance, but that one tends to be mainly students dumping their mattresses when they move out.

Weird thing three: 98 Prospect Street

98 Prospect Street is the address of the abandoned house that hosted the 2020 Halloween celebration. The house is set past the tree line of where the road ends and forest begins — but once upon a time, Prospect Street continued past where it does now. The house was abandoned in 2009, and documents inside tell the story of a Jewish couple spending decades of their life in it. They left bookshelves full, documents in drawers, shoes in closets and address books on the bedside table. Why this couple’s beautiful home was suddenly deserted without even having time to clear off the mantle, and why it was left abandoned, is a mystery.