Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Paddling to Quaboag Pond

This morning, I continued my exploration of "Nipmuck Country" by paddling the Quaboag River a short distance into Quaboag Pond in Brookfield, MA.  My recent reading of The Indians of Nipmuck Country in Southern New England by Dennis A. Connole inspired me to see some of these locations first hand.  According to Connole, the Quaboag tribe of Nipmucks lived in this region that lies roughly between the Menemeseek (Ware River) to the north and the Quinebaug River to the south. Between those rivers lies the westerly flowing Quaboag River starting at where it exits the 545 acre Quaboag Pond.  The opening photo is looking into the pond from the river.  A little further along the full size of the pond can be seen...
 Josiah H. Temple's History of North Brookfield written in 1887 provided information as to where some of the larger villages may have been located: at south end of Quaboag Pond (east of canal to Quacumquasit Pond), Quaboag Old Fort (Ashquoach), other fort near confluence of Five Mile and Seven Mile Rivers, and the largest village at the south end of Wekabaug Pond.

So, after digesting a lot of this information, and the additional tidbit that the great Wampanoag (Pokanoket) sachem Massasoit came here in 1657 to live out his final years, I found myself driving on the Springfield Road (Rt. 9) to do some exploration by water on this beautiful early spring morning.  Equipped with a map dating to 1665 (Plan of Shattoockquis Land from Temple's book), I launched into the Quaboag River where it passes under Fiskdale Road (Rt. 148) and headed upriver towards the pond.  Note: Anyone using this launch site should take care when driving in as ground clearance under vehicle can be an issue.  Otherwise, it's ideal.
Also running alongside the river this morning was this large CSX freight train...
The train is heading west on the old Boston and Albany line.

On the way to the pond, I passed several humble abodes of the resident creatures such as this musquash hi-rise...


And this beaver lodge...


Later, the residents were seen out and about.  The musquash...
And the beaver...
Who exited with a little fanfare...
In addition to these guys there were tons of ducks, seemingly of every variety, on the water or in the sky.  Also in the sky were red-tailed hawks, turkey vultures, red-winged blackbirds, and majestically patrolling the skies above the pond, a bald eagle. 
Upon reaching the southern area of Quaboag Pond, I found snow-covered ice blocking access to the canal leading to Quacumqausit Pond...
Exiting my boat here allowed for a lunch break near the spot where, perhaps, a raccoon had recently enjoyed feasting on freshwater clams...
After lunch, I returned to the river and began heading back to the west.  One stream entering from the NE caught my attention and after a little debate, I pushed myself up and over a small beaver dam to gain entrance.  On the 1665 map the stream is named Nacumuck and on more recent maps, Moore's Brook from Dunn Brook.  I was able to go about 250 yards before coming to one of the best constructed beaver dams I've ever seen...
The dam ran about 100' in a semi-circle.  In the small pond above it were 2 green wood duck boxes?
As I turned back towards the river, a bald eagle flew overhead.
When I reached Fiskdale Road, I decided to paddle downstream another mile or so and looking to the SW was this ridge in the distance...
I'm not sure if it is far enough back to be Quaboag Old Fort (Asquoach) but it is in the right direction.

If Massasoit, then known as Ousamequin, did spend his final years here he must have enjoyed them greatly.  It is said he died in the 1660's before the war that ended the Quaboag people's happy times in this region.

Very little trash was encountered while on the water today.  Most of what is seen next to my boat was recovered from the launch site upon my arrival...
The stuff on the right is from the launch site.  Combined, there were 23 recyclable containers (1 redeemable) and 22 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as plastic bags, nip bottles, styrofoam, and a mylar balloon.  YTD = 1054





11 comments:

Chris said...

You're getting closer to my neck of the woods. The Quabog river down stream to Lucy Stone Park is a nice trip especially mid week when there aren't many people around. If you want to head out to Western Mass for some paddling I'd be happy to join you, I can show you some nice ponds.

Suasco Al said...

Chris, I sure am enjoying getting acquainted with some of these beautiful waterways to the west. The Willimantic, Quinebuag, and Quaboag sure are great to, now, know about.
Linking up for a mid-week paddle sounds great to me. I could also reciprocate on waters in my neck of the woods.

Erik Eckilson said...

I've been wanting to do the section of the Quabog above Lucy Stone Park - I hear its nice. I did the whitewater section last year for the first time

http://eckilson.blogspot.com/2011/05/i-finally-ran-quaboag-april-30th.html

I hear that there are a lot of trees in there now, but people are working to clear them out.
Depending when you go, I might be able to make time for a midweek paddle.

Suasco Al said...

Erik, Sounds good to me. I'd like to take a peek into Wekabaug Pond if possible to paddle in from the river.
At the moment, my engine is in the shop for a couple of weeks for air intake work. Maybe early April.

Pete said...

I stumbled upon your blog a while ago while researching the Northeastern Canoe Trail. You have a very engaging writing style and an innovative "hook" in the inventory of collected detritus. Enjoyed the keg return story. I'm afraid there are a lot of people out there acting with malice towards the Earth - so many, that picking up after just a few of them seems inadequate. I'm now inspired not to paddle by litter in future. I'll feel better chalking it up to the actions of ignorant slobs and cleaning up after at least a couple of them..

Suasco Al said...

Pete, Thanks for dropping in and also for your comments. It's good to hear that others feel the same way about littered waterways.
Fortunately, not much is seen on the NFCT!

Chris said...

I'll try and get out to scout the section down to Lucy Stone Park. I'll get back to you. The storm last October was REALLY bad out here so the river could be a mess.

Chris said...

I drove over to Ware and Brookfield to have a look at the Quaboag on Sunday morning. While i couldn't see alot of it my guess is that it should be pretty clear down to Lucy Stone Park. The upper section will be no problem because it is treeless flood plane. The closer you get to the take out at the park the more trees there are. I did get a pretty good look at the river below the park and there were a lot of downed trees and strainers.

Suasco Al said...

Chris, Thanks for the update on the Quaboag. I hope to paddle the stretch down to Lucy Stone Park the week after next, or thereabouts.

reed said...

Glad to find this blog site the wife and I are going out today for a paddle. I hope you all have taken in the Holland river out of the Holland pond in Welll,,, Holland Hope to read more from yopu all. Oh yea I'm an avid garbage man myself. Reed

Suasco Al said...

Hello Reed. Always good to hear from a fellow "garbage man"! Hope you and your wife enjoy your time on the Quaboag today.
By Holland River might you mean the Quinebaug in Holland, MA? I have paddled from Holland Pond to E. Brimfield Lake and it is a nice stretch of water.