Sturbridge, MA
57 acres
Bird Watching Cross-country skiing/Snowshoeing Hunting Walking/Hiking (Moderate) Horseback Riding Picnicking

About Tantiusques

Follow a loop trail through quiet woodlands then visit the site of a former lead mine used by Native Americans and, later, European settlers.

What make Tantiusques a special place?
Tantiusques (“tan-te-us-quays”) – a Nipmuc word meaning “to a black deposit between two hills” – was the center of one of New England's first mining operations.

A short loop trail leads through quiet woods; a spur trail passes through the Leadmine Wildlife Management Area and ends at the Robert Crowd Site. Visitors can view the foundations of the house and barn of the African-American and Native American man who worked at the mine in the 1850s.

The Nipmuc originally mined here for graphite to make ceremonial paints. In 1644, John Winthrop, Jr., son of the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, purchased the mine with hopes of extracting lead and iron. In the early 19th century, Captain Joseph Dixon and his son worked here before founding the J. D. Crucible Company of New Jersey, famous manufacturers of pencils.

Today, careful observers can see the mine cuts, ditches, and tailings piles made by the various mining operations. The mineshaft that tunnels into the face of the low ridge is the most recent of all the excavations, dating to 1902. Most of the mining at Tantiusques was of the open trench variety. The cut along the top of the ridge is the partially filled-in remainder of what was once a several thousand foot-long trench, 20 to 50 feet in depth and roughly 6 feet in width, which followed the vein of graphite.

1.5-mile loop trail. Moderate hiking, strenuous in places.

When to Visit
Year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of 1 hour.

Regulations & Advisories

The Trustees reserves the right to photograph or video visitors and program participants for promotional use, and usage of our properties implies consent. Find the full policy here.


Leadmine Road
Sturbridge, MA 01566
Telephone: 978.840.4446
Email: central@thetrustees.org

Latitude: 42.0599
Longitude: -72.1292

Get directions on Google Maps.

From Mass Turnpike (I-90), take Exit 9 to merge onto I-84 West. Take Exit 1 toward Sturbridge. Turn right at stop sign onto Mashapaug Rd. and follow south for 1.5 mi. Turn right onto Leadmine Rd. and follow for 0.9 mi. to entrance and parking (4 cars) on left.


When to Visit
Year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of 1 hour.

FREE to all

Property History

In the days before the arrival of European colonists, Tantiusques was mined for graphite, also called “black lead,” by the Nipmuc. The Nipmuc used the material to make ceremonial paints.

In 1644, John Winthrop, Jr., son of the first Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, purchased the mine and the surrounding land from the Nipmuc and began the first commercial mining operation on the site. In addition to its known graphite deposits, John Winthrop, Jr., apparently also anticipated the extraction of lead and iron. The mine stayed in the hands of the Winthrop family until 1784 despite difficulties extracting minerals and its poor financial return.

The mine’s subsequent ownership is vague until 1828, when Frederick Tudor, a Boston merchant, purchased the property. He successfully mined the graphite for more than a quarter of a century. He employed Captain Joseph Dixon and his son who later would found the J.D. Crucible Company of New Jersey, famous manufacturer of pencils. Graphite was also a key ingredient in the manufacture of crucibles that were used to heat other substances to high temperatures. Later attempts to mine the area failed, and, by 1910, all mining operations had ceased.

Professor George H. Haynes of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, a Sturbridge native, had a great interest in the history of the mine. In 1902, he published The Tale of Tantiusques - An Early Mining Venture in Massachusetts. In 1983, through the efforts of the Sturbridge Historical Commission, the mine was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Tantiusques was acquired by The Trustees through the generosity of Roger Chaffee, in memory of Haynes, his professor.

Property Acquisition History
Gift of Roger B. Chaffee in 1962 in memory of Prof. George H. Haynes. Crowd Site purchased in 2002.

Conservation and Stewardship

Management Planning for Our Properties

Since 1891, The Trustees of Reservations have worked to protect special places in Massachusetts and maintain them to the highest standards. To ensure these standards are met, a program of careful planning and sound management is essential. Comprehensive property management plans are created for each reservation and are completely updated approximately every ten years. We often work with volunteers, property users, and members of the community to carry out this planning, which typically involves several steps:

  • Describing in detail the site’s natural, scenic, and historical resources; identifying management issues related to the protection of those resources. 

  • Describing how visitors use the property; outlining the opportunities that the property provides for people to become involved in the work of conservation and caring for their community.

  • Developing a detailed list of management recommendations, a work plan, and a description of financial needs for implementing the actions.

  • Developing a prescribed routine management program for the reservation that will guide staff work plans, volunteer involvement, and the allocation of human and financial resources.

Maps and Resources

Trail maps are distributed free from bulletin board in parking area. Please understand that supplies periodically run out. We recommend that you download a trail map before you visit.

Planning Your Visit

Before You Go
We encourage you to visit as many Trustees properties as you can.

Wherever your travels take you, please observe all posted regulations, follow special instructions from property staff, and keep in mind the Stewardship Code:

  • Protect wildlife and plants.
  • Guard against all risk of fire.
  • Help keep air and water clean.
  • Carry out what you carry in.
  • Use marked footpaths and bridle paths.
  • Leave livestock, crops, and machinery alone.
  • Respect the privacy of neighboring land.
  • Enjoy and share the landscape with others.

Click on links below for further visitor information:

Before Setting Out

Enjoying Trustees Reservations


About Hunting on Trustees of Reservations Land