A Canoe Trip
By Harry C. Atwood
How many of you boys, have ever taken a canoe trip? If not, you have missed a great deal.
There is no better way to spend a two weeksí vacation; nothing you can do, will give you greater pleasure, it will improve your health, better your disposition and teach you self reliance.
You and your chum decide to go on a trip; you will enjoy yourselves planning your trip and listing your supplies.
Your supplies should consist of two sets of paddles to commence with, (for quite often a paddle is broken on one of these trips), then your extra paddle comes in very handy; you should have a 6. By 6. Or a 7. By 7. tent, cooking kit, sleeping bags, rubber blankets, hatchets, kerosene, lantern, flashlights, paper, matches in plenty, fish rods, an oil stove, if possible for rainy days, when you canít make a fire, and your provisions.
It is a good idea to plan your bill of fare, for each day before you start, allowing two meals per day, for your third meal a light lunch will do, for I donít think you will want to cook more than two meals per day. Be sure to include plenty of evaporated milk; it will save you numerous trips to the farmhouse for milk.
One of the best canoeing trips in these parts, is the trip up the Taunton river to the Nemasket and then on to the Lakeville lakes.
Now that the dam is destroyed at East Taunton, the water in the upper Taunton and Nemasket rivers must be much lower, and consequently the trip will be harder.
The "Wanderer" in one of his best articles, told you about a trip down from Assawompsett, winding up with that splendid description of a sunset at Robinsonís Bridge, which, when I read it, made me think of Grayís Elegy, of Stoke Pogis Churchyard.
If you should decide to make a canoe trip to Lakeville, by the Taunton and Nemasket rivers, I should advise taking two days for the trip; though it is possible to do it in one day; I believe that George Bosworth, Sheldon Howard and others started one morning, years ago, from the Taunton Boat Club and reached Long Pond, at sunset, the same day. But that is a strenuous trip, especially, now that the dam is broken down at East Taunton, and therefore, the upper river is much lower.
In the old days, after you had made the carry at East Taunton, you did not have to make another, until you entered the Nemasket river: but I understand that you now have to make one at Robinsonís Bridge, on account of the shallow rapids there.
When you have passed the Pumping Station of the State Farm, at Bridgewater, which is on the left side of the river, you will soon come to the entrance of the Nemasket river; which, is on the right bank of the river; you will have to be on the lookout for it; it is well screened and you may pass it by.
The first obstruction you will encounter will be the N.Y., N.H. and H.R.R. bridge, and as this runs diagonally across the river, it is sometimes hard to force your canoe through.
Next you will come to "Warrenís," where there was formerly an old mill, but that has all been taken down and a new bridge now surmounts the stream; Here, we used to be able to paddle through some swift rapids, but I rather think you will have to make a carry now.
Then as you get nearer to Middleboro, you will arrive at "Muttocks" an old ruined mill, and you will have a carry to make that, you will always remember; then shortly you will come to what was once the "Star Mills," of Middleboro, since called the "Nemasket Mills."
A short distance from this mill is the old "Shovel Works." now the electric light station. You had better hire a wagon or truck to take your canoe round these two mills, for the water is very shallow so as to make paddling impossible.
With your canoe now resting in the river on the other side of the electric light station; you have a five-mile paddle, with no obstructions to Assawompsett Lake.
There is one strong objection to camping on the Nemasket river and spending a night, and this you will have to do, if you take two days for the tip, and that is the mosquitoes.
I remember a number of years ago, I made this trip with a friend, we pitched our tent and made our camp, just a little ways from where the Nemasket enters the Taunton.
We had finished our supper, cleaned up and lighted our pipes and by that time the sun was setting and evening coming on.
The mosquitoes came with it; they became so thick that we crawled inside our tent and put some netting over our heads, but it did not seem to do any good; the mosquitoes were so thick that they covered the walls of the tent and how they did bite, Neither of us slept any that night.
We made up our minds that if "Joe Knowles." would pass one night on the banks of the Nemasket river, among those mosquitoes, he would have all "the back to nature stuff," he would ever need
You will remember that this "Joe Knowles," a number of years ago, did this "back to nature stunt," for a Boston newspaper.
He went up into the state of Maine, to the Wilderness, where his clothes were taken from him; he was to stay so many weeks on a wager; he was to make his own clothes, his shelter, weapons and provide for himself with food.
When the time was up, he won the wager, he had not only made clothes out of birch bark, etc., had built a hut, weapons and had even captured a live bear. He would have failed had he tried the Nemasket.
Now having reached Assawompsett Lake you can camp there or paddle up the little river to Long Pond and spend your vacation there.
I remember a number of years ago, I was camping with my chum on one of those islands on Big Quittacus Lake, (that was before this lake was closed to boating and fishing by the city of New Bedford), we had finished our supper, washed the dishes, tent was pitched, beds fixed for the night and we were enjoying our after supper smoke.
It was the full of the moon and a beautiful night, when from across the waters came the shrill, weird and diabolical cry of a loon.
Have you ever heard their cry at night? Well, if you were alone at night and heard one, you would certainly wish you were among friends. Just then an owl commenced to hoot from a neighboring tree. But that night those sounds were music in my ears; my chum by my side, two weeks vacation before us and no one to give us any orders on the morrow.
Well, the two weeks went all to soon, what with fishing, paddling swimming, etc.
Tomorrow we were to start for home; we got up early in the morning cooked our breakfast, took down the tent and packed our canoe for the homeward trip.
Of course this all took time, and it was 9,a.m. when we got started, the wind that morning was northwest; It did not bother us much through Quittacus nor Pocsha, but when we reached Assawompsett, the wind was blowing strong, right against us and the waves were running high.
It was a long and hard paddle to the Nemasket river and we shipped a good deal of the water and sometimes, it seemed as if we would be swamped, but we finally reached the river.
We had to bail out the water and repack our goods in the canoe. It was about 12.p.m. when we got started for Middleboro, and by the time we had our canoe carted to the other side of the Nemasket Mill in that town, it was 2-30.p.m.
Before long we reached "Muttocks," and had that long carry again; we arrived at the Taunton river, late in the afternoon.
We ate our supper and decided to push on to Taunton, as we did not wish to pass another night amongst the mosquitoes.
Evening was now coming on and the mist or fog was closing over the river and there was no moon that night.
Now a number of years before this trip, I had taken this same canoe trip, with two companions, William Kingman and Frank Deckrow.
On this trip, we each had our own canoe. Kingman had to work at the bank until 4.p.m., so when he got out of the bank he had his canoe and the baggage of all of us carted over to a grove in North Middleboro, where Deckrow and I had agreed to meet him at supper time and pass the night there; we were to continue the trip to the lakes the next day.
Now Frank Deckrow and I left the boat house, here in Taunton, about 2-30 that afternoon and all went well until we got the other side of the East Taunton dam and there we found two young ladies out rowing in their boat; we knew them both well and persuaded them to accompany us to Foxís Hill, where we had a nice picnic lunch.
Then they went along with us as far as Robinsonís Bridge and then they turned back to East Taunton.
We had still a long ways to go before we joined our companion, at our camping place and the night was closing in.
In the day time it seems very easy to paddle up or down a river, but when the shadows of night close it, it is another story.
It grew darker and darker and the fog was settling in; we kept paddling up inlets and bayous and out again.
It was getting later and later; we finally went up into a large inlet and brought up on shore of the marsh; there were some people fishing on the bank, and we asked them. "If we were on the river?"
They said, "no, you have gone up an inlet; turn around and get back into the river." We turned our canoes round and started and in a few minutes the men on the river bank cried, "where are you going, home again?"
As we came out of the inlet, we had headed down stream instead of up. We finally reached our camping place; was Will Kingman glad to see us, after waiting all that time? Ask him. We were glad to see him you can bet and after a good warm supper, we turned in for the night.
My companion on this last trip, Ernest Hayward used to laugh a good deal at this adventure, saying "I should think you could have told whether you were paddling up or down the river, by placing a chip of wood in the water and noting the drift of the chip; you would know whether you were going up or down the river."
This is good logic all right, but the trouble was that when the East Taunton dam was up, the waters of the upper Taunton were held back like the mill pond; there was no drift to the chip, except what the wind might do to it.
Well the night was dark and the fog was thick, Hayward and I paddled up on inlet after another until we were about as disgusted, we had padded the last bridge before you reach Robinsonís bridge; my, how thick the fog was.. Finally we saw a bridge lurking in the fore, but when we drew nearer, we discovered it was the bridge we left an hour ago. We had turned up some inlet and when we came out we headed up the river again.
We turned round and finally reached Robinsonís bridge, made the carry at East Taunton and reached the boat house wharf about 1.a.m.
My companion on this trip, now knows how easy it is to turn round on the upper river at night and take the back track.
Boys if you donít believe me when I say that a canoeing trip on the Taunton river is a good way to spend a vacation at a very slight cost, ask Charles Worthen of this city, an old time canoeist and one who has been up the river many times.
I donít know as he does any canoeing these days but I still see him frequently in his little steamer on the river.
" Let us probe the silent places, let
us seek what luck betide us;
Let us journey to a lonely land I know
There's a whisper on the night
wind, there's a star agleam to guide us
And the wild is calling, calling let us go."