Matfield River, East Bridgewater
The Matfield River begins at the confluence of the Salisbury Plain River and Beaver Brook in East Bridgewater. It then flows down through East Bridgewater under Route 18 by the Joppa Grill to take in the waters of the Satucket River. From here it flows down to its confluence with the Town River, this is where the Taunton Great River begins.
Like the Salisbury Plain River the Matfield has been terribly degraded. In the future we will be adding much more info on these two rivers, and why they have become and still are in this pitiful state. For the time being the following story and pictures of our kayak trip down these rivers in November of 2001 will have to suffice.
The flowing waters through our own backyards offer the clearest reflection of what we are.
Unlike a forest that has been cleared or a wetland that has been filled to be lost forever, our rivers and their native species have a peculiar way of hanging around to taunt us. To the curious observer they refuse to be ignored.
Salisbury Plain and Matfield Rivers
As I made my way down the Salisbury Plain River past the city of Brocktonís sewer treatment plant, it was very clear something was wrong. The water turned a filthy shade of gray. Thick mats of white and gray algae covered the river bottom. It smelled of chlorine and human waste. The river banks had been ripped away by flooding waste water. Large trees uprooted along the banks lay across the river channel. Huge mats of floating trash clung to fallen trees laced together by the roots of floating vegetation. As I traveled down stream I found more and more of the same.
Through each floating garbage dump and with every breath of the foul smelling air my spirits sank lower and lower. It was as if the river were saying. Look at me! Smell me! If you came here looking for beauty I have none to offer. If you came here to find life in my waters, look again. Would you or could you live here? If you want me to comfort you with some small signs of hope, for your peace of mind then go home now. Go away. You will find none here.
The Matfield was taunting me in the cruelest way.
Traveling downstream the Matfield continued its ceaseless picking and prodding. Then, along the banks of a long rocky riffle through the swamp maples I caught the old river off guard for a moment. It was here that I captured a brief glimpse of the Matfields true character. Along the bank I found a small flake of quartz and then another. Several fragments of scorched fire rocks were scattered about the river rocks. Bits and pieces of an ancient native fishing site. Where they once camped to fish for the wild brook trout, shad and alewives that came up through the clear, cool water to spawn.
For a moment I tried to picture the scene. Young native children scooping at the water, laughing and rolling on the bank trying to get a hold of one of these silver gifts from the sea that flopped at their feet. Across the river a mink rummaging through the leaves brought me back to reality. As I watched her darting and dancing along the river bank it dawned on me that the river was taunting me again, now with purity rather than filth.
Driving home that evening I couldnít shake the views of those floating garbage dumps. I knew that the Salisbury Plain and Matfield Rivers would certainly never be pristine again. But we could surely treat them better than this. They appeared dead!
Should we go back and at least clean up the floating garbage dumps? Would this give us some peace of mind? More importantly, would it help the river? Would it make it habitable for its native species?
No! As unsightly and disturbing as these views of floating garbage may be, they only represent a symptom of the disease we have inflicted on these rivers. This disease is in no way confined solely to the basins of the Salisbury Plain and Matfield Rivers.
For those of you who travel the Taunton River breath deeply as you pass through the riffles at Titicut and smell the Matfield taunting us.
Matfield Salisbury Plain Photo Gallery July 2003
One note on the subject of the name Matfield River. From this point forward the Matfield River will no longer be called the Matfield River. We are officially changing its name back to its original Wampanoag name Ahquannissowamsoo. We have no business naming something we have treated so shamelessly.