The first important publication in regard to the conversion of the Five Mile Wood into a public domain was an article of nine pages, written by Mr. Wilson Flagg and published January, 1856. This essay was entitled A Forest Preserve: A Proposition to State and City Governments:
“It is proposed that these public bodies should authorize the purchase of a thousand acres or more of wooded land as near as practicable to every large city, to be kept as a ‘preserve’ and to be used as a place for the study of natural history and for summer recreation.”
He then alludes to this wild region extending from Stoneham through Saugus and Lynn, as far as Salem, as a good site for the location of one or more of these “preserves”. This was a plan to be made to extend all over the United States.
“In 1869 Mr. Elizur Wright published a pamphlet entitled Mount Andrew Park in which he recommended to the citizens of Boston to convert this region, then known as ‘The Five-Mile Wood’ into a park…He advised the preservation of the forest upon the hills, and the establishment of school of natural history in connection with it. It is remarkable that Mr. Wright and Mr. Flagg, while working for almost the self-same project, were personally unacquainted and each knew nothing at all of what had been done by the other.”
Boston Evening Transcript, Sat. Nov. 13, 1880
Wright and Flagg founded the Middlesex Fells Association on October 15, 1880, at a meeting on Bear Hill in the Fells, attended by 200 people.