Neponset River

Neponset River
Neponset River

Neponset River with Granite Avenue in background
Basin countries United States
Length 29 mi (47 km)

The Neponset River is a river in eastern Massachusetts in the United States. The headwaters of the Neponset are at the Neponset Reservoir in Foxborough, near the Gillette Stadium. From there, the Neponset meanders generally northeast for approximately 29 miles (47 km) to its mouth at Dorchester Bay between Quincy and the Dorchester section of Boston, near the painted gas tank.[1]

The Neponset River forms the southern boundary of the city of Boston, through the neighborhoods of Readville, Hyde Park, Mattapan and Dorchester, with the northern border of the city of Quincy. In addition, the Neponset touches the towns of Foxborough, Walpole, Sharon, Norwood, Canton, Westwood, Dedham, and Milton.

The Neponset River is fed by a drainage basin or watershed of approximately 130 square miles.[1] The Neponset River watershed includes numerous aquifers, wetlands, streams and surrounding upland areas. In addition to the towns listed above, the watershed includes portions of Stoughton, Medfield, Dover, and Randolph. Altogether some 250,000 people live in the Neponset River watershed.



The falling waters of the Neponset provided the energy for the country's first water-powered grist mill, gunpowder mill, paper mill and the Revere Copper Company, among others.[1]

The river's recorded history begins in 1619 when fur trading started by the English on Thompson's Island, and Native Americans used the Neponset River to bring skins for sale.[2]

The upper stretch of the Neponset River, in Foxborough, Walpole and Norwood, is steeply sloped, however, dropping about 228 feet (69 m) over its first 12 miles (19 km) and so the earliest years of the Industrial Revolution truly brought the Neponset to prominence. In 1635, Israel Stoughton built the first dam on the Neponset (only the second dam in entire New World) for his grist mill. It was the first of three mills for flour, gun powder and paper making. In 1640 shipbuilding began at Gulliver's Creek Wharf, and in 1673 John Trescott built a lumber mill on the river.

In 1765, a chocolate mill was established by Dr. James Baker and Irish immigrant John Hannon (later known as Baker's Chocolate) in the Lower Mills section of Dorchester, and in 1770 Daniel Vose's Wholesale Shipping Warehouses at the second Milton Town Landing at Lower Mills were at the peak of their operation. Ship building and commercial shipping were the major river industries at the estuary. In 1773 George Clark built a paper mill on remnants of Trescott's Lumber Mill, which became the Tileston and Hollingsworth Paper Mill in 1836. And in 1826, the river became the terminus of the Granite Railway, the first commercial railway in the United States. This river was central to the establishment of the town of Walpole.


A tributary of the Neponset River located in Canton, Massachusetts, is called the Canton River, which flows under the Canton Viaduct.

Pollution and cleanup

After much remediation, the Neponset is now cleaner than it has been for almost two centuries. At present two dams block fish from entering the river; there is some pressure for their removal.


Today the Neponset River and its watershed are increasingly being protected and opened up as a recreational destination for the benefit of local residents. Several recommendations of the 1966 Lower Neponset River Reservation Master Plan have been implemented, including the reclamation of the former Hallet Street landfill and the old Neponset Drive-In to provide the 66-acre (270,000 m2) Pope John Paul II Park, which opened to the public in 2001. At Squantum Point in Quincy, phase one of Squantum Point Park, 25 acres (100,000 m2) of a 50-acre (200,000 m2) former U.S. Navy Airfield, was developed as waterfront parkland with assistance from National Grid plc and dedicated in the spring of 2001. Also 2.4 miles (3.9 km) of the Lower Neponset River Trail opened in 2003.[3]


  1. ^ a b c Neponset River Watershed Association, Watershed,, retrieved 2009-10-17 
  2. ^ MassBike, Neponset River: A History,, retrieved 2009-10-17 
  3. ^ DCR Neponset River Reservation page

External links

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