Weirs Play Hide-and-Seek

On a beautiful spring morning last week I'd paddled against a New England river's gentle current until all sounds of civilization were absent.  Here I found a most peaceful and quiet spot with the only sounds being the occasional rustling of treetops from a gentle breeze and the slightest gurgling sound of water passing over the exposed stones...this was my destination and a special place...

After landing my kayak, I waded out to the middle of the river where the apex of an ancient V-shaped fish weir is clearly visible.  Standing there allowed me to occupy the same space where once, long ago, a Native American likely stood with his spear at the ready.  Standing mid-calf deep and letting the river's cool waters surround my feet, I tried to imagine this weir and the adjacent riverbank eons ago when migrating fish and eels were harvested here.  This was the perfect spot for wiling away the middle of the day.     

Eventually, I did continue my passage on the river and encountered welcome signs of wildness such as this lone sandpiper...
...and this mother wood duck with 10 new editions in tow...

However, my thoughts kept returning to the V-shaped fish weir and how much it reminded me of a similar V-shaped structure seen on a river close to where I live.  Once back home in Massachusetts I began searching for photos I vaguely remembered taking of the structure, and ultimately found them.  They were taken in August of 2016 during a period of drought when the river was as low as I've ever seen it.  It was so low, that I frequently had to get out of my boat and pull it through the shallow sections.  At one very shallow spot this formation of stones caught my eye...

The spot was revisited yesterday and not a trace of the structure could be detected as the water level was approximately 30 inches higher.

These two views are from roughly the same vantage point.

August 2016...

May 2018...

Amazing how 30 inches of water can hide a pile of rocks.

The V-shaped structure mentioned at the outset of this post spent about 150 years hidden from view due to a downriver dam.  When that dam was recently removed the V-shaped weir could once again be viewed.  It has been documented as having been built by Native Americans well before the arrival of Europeans.

I'm left to wonder if the V-shaped structure in my local river was built as a fish weir.  In looking online for any documentation of its existence I did find one link to a book by Robert M. Thorsen The Boatman: Henry David Thoreau's River Years published in 2017.  Thoreau is quoted as saying he found "stones strewn beneath" the bank "in a low wall, as if they had helped form an Indian weir."


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Spirit of Metichawon

A Confluential Place