Thursday, July 7, 2011

Shawsheen River - Ballardvale

Today was an ideal day to experience a new river.  Having started work at the crack of dawn, I was finished at mid-day and decided to deviate just a bit from my usual route home and pass through the village of Ballardvale situated on the Shawsheen River.  The approach to the river was temporarily blocked by a long freight train.  As I'm a railfan, the delay was not the problem for this driver that it appeared to be for others.  Soon the train had left town and traffic resumed its flow.  Launch spots weren't clearly marked so I improvised in getting my boat into the water.  Once afloat, I looked downriver towards the dam (opening photo), then turned about and headed upriver.   
The Shawsheen is pretty much a mill pond until reaching the first of two railroad bridges...
After passing under this bridge the river starts to look and feel as a river should.

Some say the river's name is a Native American word meaning "serpentine".  Others say the meaning is "great spring".  After paddling 2.8 miles to the point where major power lines cross, I found it was only 1.6 miles as the crow flies.  Therefore, I'm thinking "serpentine" might carry the day.  Regardless of name issues, the river was an ideal place to spend this hot afternoon.  Shade was plentiful and a nice breeze freshened at regular intervals.
This section of the Shawsheen had very little trash in it and there were no blow-downs to impede a boat's progress.  I suspect there are folks who work hard at keeping it this way.
One group advocating for the Shawsheen is the Shawsheen River Watershed Association.  I found their Web site most helpful, especially their interactive map.
Wildlife seen today were turtles, a musquash, swallows, and a red-tailed hawk.
One kayaking fisherman reported catching a couple of bass and a couple of trout.
Everything seemed mellow on the river, even Route 93 looked tame...
Of course it didn't seem so tame, about 2 hours later when my car and I merged into vehicular mayhem!

Here is another view of the railroad bridge (looking downriver)...

 At the takeout, a very modest haul of 28 pieces of trash gathered hullside...

There were 14 recyclable containers (3 redeemable) and 14 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as plastic bags, styrofoam, and nip bottles.  YTD total stands at 3811.

1 comment:

Erik Eckilson said...

Looks nice - great to get on a new river