Did you know that the Taunton River drops only 20 feet in elevation over 44 m iles from the confluence of the Town and Matfield tributaries to Mount Hope Bay?

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Photo Credits:
Greig Cranna-Photographer, Mass GIS for the study map, Bill Taylor- local historian, and the 1998 Rivers and Trails Brochure.

The Taunton River Study Area Click for Full Map (139kb)

The Taunton River in Southeastern Massachusetts is a hidden treasure. Beside providing a multitude of recreational activities from camping and canoeing to snowshoeing and birdwatching, this little known river resource is both rich in history and environmental resources.

Situated just 30 miles south of Boston, the Taunton is within easy reach of the majority of the state's poplation including the cities of Taunton, Fall River and New Bedford

The Taunton River Greenway flows for approximately 40 miles from the confluence of the Town and Matfield Rivers in the Towns of Bridgewater and continues through the towns of Halifax, Middleboro, Raynham, City of Taunton, Towns of Dighton, Berkley and Freetown to the confluence of Mt. Hope Bay at the City of Fall River and Town of Somerset.

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Summary of Historic Resources

Photo of the North Middleborough
Congregational Church built in 1747
located near the Titicut Green along
the Taunton River in
North Middleborough.



The Taunton is rich in history. The area served as a vital waterway for Native American settlements as well as Colonial settlements. Paleo Indian artifacts have been found in the Taunton River area dating back as far as 12,000 years.

The river played a central role in battles between the Native American Wampanoag people and English settlers in the historic King Philip's War in 1675. This battle is statistically considered the bloodiest war in America's history.

There are historic sites of Native American trails, river crossings, and settlements including the Wampanoag Commemorative Canoe Passage connecting Massachusetts Bay with Narragansett Bay. The remains of colonial grist mills, ship building yards, industrial iron works, as well as paper and textile mills are also found along the Taunton River.

The rich historic diversity of the Taunton can be studied in more detail by visiting the history section of the web site.

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Summary of Natural Resources and Ecology

The Taunton River is home to an incredible diversity of vegetation and wild life habitats. It is considered by most local authorities to be the most ecologically diverse waterbodies in the state.

A recent natural resource assessment conducted the Wildlands Trust, a local land preservation organization located in Duxbury, Massaschusetts, identified 31 different vegetational communities along the river which included more than 360 plant species within the river's floodplain wetlands.

Over 154 species of birds were also documented along the river during the breeding season as well as 29 species of native fish. Canoeists and Kayakers have sited majestic great blue herrons, spotted sandpipers, muskrats, horned owls, river otters and even an occassional seal.

Read more about the Natural Resources of this beautiful river by checking out our Ecology section.

 

 

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Summary of Recreational Resources

Because the land along the Taunton River is largely undeveloped, and the drop in elevation very small, the Taunton provides a beautiful place for everyone to enjoy and provides many wonderful opportunities for recreation.

Canoeing, kayaking, fishing, bird watching, photography, hiking, snowshoeing, and camping are among the most popular along the Taunton.

There are few roads or public paths close to the river. Because most of the river corridor is privately owned, the river is visible and accessible to the public primarily at bridge crossings or on the few publicly owned parcels. There are several recreational outfitters and suppliers along the river that allow greater access for planned recreational activities from canoeing to Native American storytelling.

Please take a moment and read more about the Taunton River recreational opportunities in our recreation section as well as our "Just for Fun" section.

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Summary of Development along the Taunton River

The Taunton River Greenway flows for approximately 40 miles from the confluence of the Town and Matfield Rivers in the Towns of Bridgewater and continues through the towns of Halifax, Middleboro, Raynham, City of Taunton, Towns of Dighton, Berkley and Freetown to the confluence of Mt. Hope Bay at the City of Fall River and Town of Somerset.

The pristine natural beauty of the small towns within the Taunton River watershed are at risk for development. They are a sought-after commodity. Improved access to each of our river communities from new roads and rail lines is ushering in a new era of rapid growth, which may forever change the Taunton River and its tributaries. This is a critical time to protect the lands along this pristine urban river.

As greater efforts are being made to acquire open space by towns butting the river, by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and by conservation organizations, a potential for long term protection of the Taunton River may be realized.

The Wild and Scenic Study will assist in this effort and allow a managed approach to the need for local awareness of this noble cause. Please read about existing land use on our web site as well as a summary of existing protected lands, for more information about how properties are currently developed along the Upper Taunton River. Also take a moment to see what you can do to help protect our river in the Public Outreach section.

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