About The Taunton River
The network of streams and rivers comprising the Taunton River basin drains five hundred and sixty two square miles of the southeastern part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The river begins in the town of Bridgewater, Massachusetts at the confluence of the Matfield and Town Rivers. It is the second largest drainage area in Massachusetts and has one of the flattest courses in the state. Its level terrain creates extensive wetlands throughout the basin, including the 16,950 acre Hockomock Swamp, one of the largest wetlands in New England. Saltwater intrusion occurs as far as twelve miles upstream (the confluence with the Three Mile River) with tidal changes noticeable eighteen miles upstream. The Taunton remains fairly uniform in width within its freshwater portion, then broadens into an estuary (downstream of the Berkley Bridge).
Critical habitat areas along the Taunton include the Winnetuxet River, the Nemasket River, the Poquoy Brook, the Tidal Oxbow, and the Three Mile River.
The Taunton River is the longest undammed coastal river in New England and provides excellent habitat for all life stages of fish. The river contains warm-water fisheries, including riverine fish (fish that require flowing conditions), habitat generalists (fish that can live in rivers or ponds), and "estuarine wanderers" that move between estuary and freshwater.
The Taunton River provided a wide range of rich natural resources to support a sizable prehistoric population. Records of stone and wooden fish weirs indicate that the first settlers were taught about the use of fishing places by Native People. Throughout the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, iron and other metal related industries grew prosperous in the Taunton area, and it became known as the "Silver City". This area also became the largest textile producing center in the U.S. in 1860. Shipbuilding and commerce were at their height between 1700 and 1900.
With over forty miles of navigable channels, The Taunton River is a great place to canoe, kayak, sail or fish. Since the land along the Taunton River is largely undeveloped, the banks remain naturally vegetated. The numerous types of trees mixed with the golden brush, create a colorful pallet. Many maples reach out over the river, their brilliant foliage reflecting in the water.
Bike trails and walking paths are being developed and greenways are open to public along the tributaries as well. Several recreational sites have been preserved along the river, including camping and conservation areas. Furthermore, Somerset has the only public beach on the Taunton River.
The Taunton River's 2009 designation as a Wild & Scenic River has served as a powerful catalyst for land protection efforts along the river and its major tributaries. Collaborations with private/public entities, state agencies, and land trusts, have resulted in the protection of more than 1,500 acres.