Nick’s Rock

Published in 1899 by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Topographical Survey Commission, The Atlas of the Boundaries of the Town of Kingston describes the 18 corners marking the town limits and the seven “triangulation stations” used to locate the corners. The Atlas includes the statutes that formally defined the boundaries, textual descriptions, a scale map of the town along with details of each corner, two tables of geographical data and nicely captioned photographs.

The witness stone at corner 17, near Kingston Bay, 1899
The witness stone at corner 17, near Kingston Bay, 1899

Among the readily identifiable landmarks, such as Monk’s Hill, the Kingston Unitarian Church and the Standish Monument, is one known to many but now gone: Nick’s Rocks.

In the 1920’s Emily Drew wrote

Nick’s Rock on the line between the towns of Plymouth and Kingston, not far from Monk’s Hill is one of three rocks in Kingston which “testify” to the visits of the Devil as imprints of his feet and hooves prove “conclusively” that such visits were really made. The other two rocks are both called Devil’s Rock. One lies near Bay Farm and the other in the brick-kiln pasture near C. Drew and Company on Stony Brook.

Nick’s Rock was also used as a boundary marker for the town line between Plymouth and Kingston. Originally the rock marked the way for Nick’s Rock Road, which was the main road from the early Plymouth settlement. The road branched at the rock with one direction heading towards Plympton and the other towards the Flaxing Place at Smelt Pond.

Nick's Rock, 1899
Nick's Rock, 1899

The 1899 Atlas locate Nicks’ Rock on the line between corners 17 and 18, at latitude 41 57 35.95 and longitude 70 42 59.64,  and describes the landmark as

situated in the boundary line between Kingston and Plymouth, in a thick growth of low scrub oaks, with scattering yellow pines, about 75 feet west of a wood-road.  It is a well know point being marked by a rock about 10 feet high and measuring 12 x 15 feet on the top, which slopes to the southwest.  A good view is obtained for miles to the south and west.

The witness stone at corner 18, 1899
The witness stone at corner 18, 1899

Nick’s Rock is gone now, though a marker in the median strip of the new Route 44 just west of the Cherry Street overpass commemorates this bygone stone.


8 thoughts on “Nick’s Rock

  1. Enjoyed your “pique of the week” about Nick’s Rock. I’ve been hunting and photographing the local town boundary corners and line marks and found the one’s that bracket the rock mentioned in the article (17 and 18). Corner 18 looks much the same, perhaps leaning a little more. Corner 17 WM has been replaced with anewer marker in the same location.

  2. Thanks for the info! I’ve been driving by the sign that says “Site of Nick’s Rock” for a few months now on my way home from work. Today I finally remembered to Google it!

  3. From Emily Drew’s description, that was a pretty big rock and landmark. I am looking at a 1977 topographic map of the area, which shows Nicks Rock. What happened to it?

    1. It was a big rock, and the mystery is that no one seems to know what happened to it. There is some speculation that there were two rocks known as Nick’s Rock and that one was demolished when the new Route 44 was built.

  4. If you actually go to the location where Nick’s Rock was, it’s fate will become clear. The area is a very large sand and gravel operation and it’s location has been cleared and graded. The exact location of the Rock plots to the edge of a sand cliff. It seems very likely to me that the rock was simply “in the way” and was demolished.

  5. Although Nick’s rock is known for its legend associating with the Devil, at least once source (Ancient landmarks of Plymouth: Part I. Historical sketch and titles of estates
    William Thomas Davis 1883) mentions Nick s being an Indian.

    BTW: excellent job with the blog. I only discovered it because I’m visiting the library. I’ve been researching the geologic sites of Kingston’s history for several years now and the library staff has been an enormous help.

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