Wednesday, May 15, 2024

North Branch of the Pawtuxet – May 14, 2024

Heading upstream
I joined the Blackstone Valley Paddle Club for its season opener with the Southern New England Paddlers on the North Branch of the Pawtuxet above the Hope Dam. After what seems like weeks of cold, rainy weather, it was nice to get out on a relatively warm evening. There is no gage on this section of the river, but the gage downstream at Fiskeville was at .75-feet, 150 cfs.

The North Branch of the Pawtuxet River originally arose at the confluence of the Ponaganset and Moswansicut Rivers in what is now the Scituate Reservoir. Today, the river emerges from the bottom of the massive Scituate Reservoir Dam and flows south for approximately 9-miles to West Warwick where it joins the South Branch of the Pawtuxet River to form the main stem of the Pawtuxet River.

Water coming down the spillway
The main stem then flows east for approximately 12-miles to empty into Narragansett Bay at the Pawtuxet Cove. Collectively, all three branches played an important role in the development of the textile industry in Rhode Island, and numerous dams still block their course.

We put-in at Hope Landing above the Hope Furnace Dam (15 Hope Furnace Road in Scituate). From there it is an easy 2-mile paddle upstream to the base of the massive earthen dam that creates Scituate Reservoir. The first part of the paddle took us through the winding marshland created by backwater from the Hope Dam. Eventually the river narrowed and we followed its tree-lined course up to the Scituate Reservoir Dam.

At the base of the dam
The Scituate Reservoir was formed by the construction of this large earthen dam in 1925. The Scituate Reservoir is now the largest artificial body of water in the state and provides water to more than 60-percent of the state’s population.

With all the rain, there was water flowing down the spillway from the top of the dam. While there were some trees down in the channel, we were able to paddle up to the base of the massive dam. From there, it was a quick trip back down to the put-in.

The crew at the put-in
My Pictures
Fiskeville Gage
Hope Landing from Rhode Island Blueways

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