Kayaking the North River 
Marshfield, Scituate, Hanover and more
by John Galluzzo

Oh, there are logistics to consider, as with any on-the-water experience, and we don't mean just packing enough food and water for a few hours' excursion. You'll want to check the tides, as you really want to move with them. And you'll want to arrange for a car at either end of the journey. That means two people, and it's certainly the way that the river should be experienced anyway.

The river, by the way, is the North River, and it has lived many lives. We don't know much about its history with the local Native American tribes - although an 11,000 year-old axe head was discovered just above its banks not that long ago - but due to the river's historic natural abundance, we can guess at it. Anadromous fish, those species that can live in both salt and fresh water, have long called it home, though "our" actions, those of the European settlers who began visiting in the early 1600s, have caused longterm damage. We built dams that blocked the fish from returning to spawning grounds, and as such, we have endangered populations. So it's not the same river today that the early settlers of "Satuit" first saw.

As you paddle in the silence, know that there once was motion and even commotion. Arrows and musket fire sailed from side to side during the time of King Philip's War. A mock battle between Massachusetts' militia and those of other states was decisively fought right over the Old North River Bridge at the beginning of the twentieth century. More than 1000 wooden sailing ships were built on the banks between 1690 and 1870, including some of the most famous vessels in American history. Today, signs marking the sites of the shipyards silently stand where once there was the sound of industry - saws, adzes, hammers, gruff foremen's voices...

The river is laden, too, with historic names like "The No Gains" and "Rocky Reach." The remains of a corduroy road remind us of oxen teams that helped kedge ships to sea. The water rushes through the supports of the Old North River Bridge, shooting one through on a momentary pulse-quickening ride. And the wildlife of the river, the Marsh Wrens, the White-tailed Deer and, at times, even the Bald Eagles, make regular appearances.

The staff members of the North and South Rivers Watershed Association watch over the river as they would their own babies. They protect it from pollutants, and promote it for its natural and historic beauty. They also hold the best map, the best kayaking information and more. Contact them when you visit Plymouth County, if it's on the river you wish to be. And don't forget to pack that food and water.

Canoe and kayak access in Marshfield, Scituate, Hanover, Pembroke and Norwell

For more information:
North and South Rivers Watershed Association



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