The Piscataqua River (/pɪsˈkætəˌkwɔː, -kwə/) is a 12-mile-long (19 km) tidal river forming the boundary of the U.S. states of New Hampshire and Maine from its origin at the confluence of the Salmon Falls River and Cocheco River. The drainage basin of the river is approximately 1,495 square miles (3,870 km2), including the subwatersheds of the Great Works River and the five rivers flowing into Great Bay: the Bellamy, Oyster, Lamprey, Squamscott, and Winnicut.
The river runs southeastward, with New Hampshire to the south and west and Maine to the north and east, and empties into the Gulf of Maine east of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The last 6 miles (10 km) before the sea are known as Portsmouth Harbor and have a tidal current of around 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph). The cities/towns of Portsmouth, New Castle, Newington, Kittery and Eliot have developed around the harbor.
|State||New Hampshire, Maine|
|Source||Cochecho and Salmon Falls rivers|
|⁃ location||New Hampshire/Maine border, United States|
|⁃ elevation||0 ft (0 m)|
|Portsmouth Harbor, New Hampshire/Maine border, United States|
|0 ft (0 m)|
|Length||12 mi (19 km)|
|⁃ left||Salmon Falls River|
|⁃ right||Cochecho River, Great Bay|
Named by the area's original Abenaki inhabitants, the word Piscataqua is believed to be a combination of peske (branch) with tegwe (a river with a strong current, possibly tidal). The first known European to explore the river was Martin Pring in 1603. Captain John Smith placed a spelling similar to "Piscataqua" for the region on his map of 1614. The river was the site of the first sawmill in the colonies in 1623, the same year the contemporary spelling "Piscataqua" was first recorded.
Once salmon, sturgeon, oysters, clams, scallops, lobsters, mussels, eels, seals, and many others species of marine life were common in the river, evidenced by such tributaries as the Salmon Falls River, Sturgeon Creek and Seal Rock in Eliot, Maine, the Oyster River in Durham, New Hampshire, and the Lamprey River in Newmarket, New Hampshire. All but the salmon and sturgeon remain, with fishing for striped bass and bluefish common recreational sports.
In the mid 1630s some of the region's earliest settlers built a sawmill in what is today's Berwick, Maine, on a tributary above the head of tide of the Piscataqua. Thought to be the first over-shot water-powered site in America, it became known as the "Great Works", giving name to today's Great Works River.
After the Allies' European victory in the Second World War, four surrendered German U-boats traveled upriver to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, with their captains and crews interned as POWs at Portsmouth Naval Prison. U-805 was the first to arrive, towed up the river to a rendezvous with U.S. officials on a tugboat off the Navy Yard on May 15, 1945. U-873 and U-1228 arrived the next day.
U-234, by far the greatest prize, arrived on May 19, seized off Nova Scotia by the U.S. destroyer escort Sutton. It had left Germany with a cargo bound for Japan of a disassembled Messerschmitt Me 262 jet plane, the most sophisticated fighter of World War II; two top Japanese scientists; and two high-ranking Nazi officers. While this was enough to create a media sensation, it was decades later before the U.S. government revealed that the sub also carried a top secret load of uranium oxide produced by the German atomic weapons program bound for a last-ditch Japanese effort. Instead, the extremely valuable nuclear material was diverted to the U.S.' top secret Manhattan Project, and ended up part of the bomb the U.S. Army Air Corps dropped over Hiroshima to hasten the end of the Pacific war.
The shipyard is located on Seavey's Island in Kittery, Maine, near the Piscataqua's mouth. Long regarded by some as being in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the yard was claimed by that state into the 2000s. However, the Piscataqua River border dispute over ownership of Seavey's Island was settled based upon a 2001 U.S. Supreme Court decision which cited a 1977 decision affirming New Hampshire's claim that the state borders met at the center of the river's navigable channel as described in a 1740 decree, thus placing the island in Maine.
The Piscataqua River and its tributaries, including Great Bay, form a substantial estuarine environment. Two rivers, the Salmon Falls and Cocheco, join to form the Piscataqua on the eastern edge of Dover, New Hampshire, at the northwest corner of Eliot, Maine. Five rivers with tidal stretches flow into Great Bay: the Bellamy, Oyster, Lamprey, Squamscott, and Winnicut, and the Great Works River drains into the tidal portion of the Salmon Falls.
Badger's Island is located in the Piscataqua River at Kittery, Maine, directly opposite Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It carries U.S. Route 1 between the states, connecting to the Kittery mainland by the Badger's Island Bridge, and to New Hampshire by the Memorial Bridge. Now largely a suburb of Portsmouth, the island features houses, condominiums, restaurants and marinas.Bean River
The Bean River is a 7.4-mile (11.9 km) long river located in southeastern New Hampshire in the United States. It is a tributary of the North River, part of the Lamprey River/Great Bay/Piscataqua River watershed leading to the Atlantic Ocean.
The river rises near the summit of Saddleback Mountain on the border between Northwood and Deerfield. The river flows southeast through Deerfield and quickly enters Nottingham, where it picks up the north outlet of Pawtuckaway Lake shortly before joining the North River one mile north of Nottingham village.Branch River (New Hampshire)
The Branch River is an 11.9-mile (19.2 km) long river located in eastern New Hampshire in the United States. It is a tributary of the Salmon Falls River, part of the Piscataqua River watershed leading to the Atlantic Ocean.
The river begins at the outlet of Lovell Lake at Sanbornville, a village in the town of Wakefield, New Hampshire. The river turns south, paralleling New Hampshire Route 16, passes through the village of Union, and turns southeast to reach the Salmon Falls River in Northeast Pond, within the town of Milton.
A significant tributary is Jones Brook.Cochecho River
The Cochecho River or Cocheco River is a tributary of the Piscataqua River, 38.3 miles (61.6 km) long, in the U.S. state of New Hampshire. It rises in northern Strafford County and runs southeastward, through the town of Farmington and the cities of Rochester and Dover, where it provides hydroelectric power. Below the center of Dover, the river is tidal and joins the Salmon Falls River at the Maine border to form the Piscataqua.
Significant tributaries include the Ela River, the Mad River, and the Isinglass River.East Branch Piscataqua River
The East Branch Piscataqua River is a 10.2-mile-long (16.4 km) river in Maine. It is a tributary of the Piscataqua River, which flows to the Presumpscot River and ultimately to Casco Bay.
The East Branch rises between the towns of Yarmouth and North Yarmouth and flows southwest into Cumberland and eventually Falmouth, where it joins the Piscataqua just upstream from that river's mouth at the Presumpscot River.Ela River
The Ela River is a 10.6-mile (17.1 km) long river located in eastern New Hampshire in the United States. It is a tributary of the Cocheco River, part of the Piscataqua River watershed leading to the Atlantic Ocean.
The river begins at Coldrain Pond in New Durham, New Hampshire, four miles east of Lake Winnipesaukee. Flowing south through Club Pond, the river turns southeast and descends to Farmington, where it joins the Cocheco. New Hampshire Route 11 parallels the river for most of its southeasterly course.Fresh River (New Hampshire)
The Fresh River is a 3.2-mile (5.1 km) long stream in southeastern New Hampshire in the United States. It is a tributary of the Piscassic River, which flows into the Lamprey River and is part of the Great Bay and Piscataqua River watershed leading to the Atlantic Ocean.
Nearly the entire course of the river is through freshwater wetlands. The vertical drop of the stream over its three-mile length is less than 20 feet. It rises on the border between the towns of Epping and Brentwood and flows east into the northern corner of Exeter. The river crosses into Newfields just before joining the Piscassic River at the Piscassic Ice Pond.List of rivers of New Hampshire
This is a list of rivers and significant streams in the U.S. state of New Hampshire.
All watercourses named "River" (freshwater or tidal) are listed here, as well as other streams which are either subject to the New Hampshire Comprehensive Shoreland Protection Act or are more than 10 miles (16 km) long. New Hampshire rivers and streams qualify for state shoreland protection (and are listed here in bold) if they are fourth-order or larger water bodies, based on the Strahler method of stream order classification.Little River (Brentwood, New Hampshire)
The Little River is a 7.3 mile long (11.7 km) river in the towns of Kingston and Brentwood in Rockingham County, New Hampshire, in the United States. It is a tributary of the Exeter River, part of the Great Bay/Piscataqua River watershed in the New Hampshire Seacoast region. The river should not be confused with the Little River of Exeter, New Hampshire, another tributary of the Exeter River less than three miles away.
The Little River rises in the northwestern part of Kingston, New Hampshire, and follows a winding course generally northeast through flat or slightly hilly terrain. The river turns north as it enters Brentwood and reaches the Exeter River east of Brentwood's town center.Little River (Lamprey River tributary)
The Little River is a 10.4 mile long (16.7 km) river located in southeastern New Hampshire in the United States. It is a tributary of the Lamprey River, part of the Great Bay and Piscataqua River watershed leading to the Atlantic Ocean.
The river rises in Barrington, New Hampshire as a tributary of Mendums Pond. Upon leaving Mendums Pond, the river enters Nottingham, flowing south through Nottingham Lake and then east, where it joins the Lamprey River near the town center of Lee.Mad River (Cocheco River tributary)
The Mad River is a 5.2-mile-long (8.4 km) river in eastern New Hampshire in the United States. It is a tributary of the Cocheco River, part of the Piscataqua River watershed leading to the Atlantic Ocean.
The river is located entirely in the town of Farmington. It rises in Nubble Pond, between Nubble Mountain and Hussey Mountain, and flows northwest, then northeast, reaching the Cocheco near the town center of Farmington. The river drops more than 500 feet (150 m) over its 5-mile (8 km) route, in places falling over scenic ledges.Neoutaquet River
The Neoutaquet River is a 7.8-mile-long (12.6 km) tributary of the Great Works River in southern Maine. It flows entirely within the town of North Berwick. Via the Great Works and Salmon Falls rivers, it is part of the Piscataqua River watershed, flowing ultimately to the Atlantic Ocean.North River (New Hampshire)
The North River is a 15.1-mile (24.3 km) long river located in southeastern New Hampshire in the United States. It is a tributary of the Lamprey River, part of the Great Bay and Piscataqua River watershed leading to the Atlantic Ocean.
The river begins at the outlet of North River Pond in the northern corner of Nottingham, New Hampshire. It flows southeast through hilly, wooded terrain, crossing the entire town of Nottingham, the southwest corner of Lee, and a northern part of Epping, where it joins the Lamprey. A major tributary of the North River is the Bean River, which joins from the west in the center part of Nottingham.Piscataqua River (Presumpscot River tributary)
The Piscataqua River is an 11.9-mile-long (19.2 km) tributary of the Presumpscot River in the U.S. state of Maine. Via the Presumpscot River, it is part of the watershed of Casco Bay, an arm of the Atlantic Ocean.
It rises at the outlet of Forest Lake in the southern corner of the town of Gray, flows briefly northeast, then turns southeast and enters the town of Cumberland.
Continuing southwest, it enters Falmouth, turns more south-southeast, and reaches the Presumpscot River just north of the Interstate 495 bridge.Piscataqua River Bridge
The Piscataqua River Bridge is a through arch bridge that crosses the Piscataqua River, connecting Portsmouth, New Hampshire with Kittery, Maine. Carrying six lanes of Interstate 95, the bridge is the third modern span and first fixed crossing of the Piscataqua between Portsmouth and Kittery. The two other spans, the Memorial Bridge and the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge, are both lift bridges, built to accommodate ship traffic along the Piscataqua. The high arch design of the Piscataqua River Bridge eliminates the need for a movable roadway.Piscataqua River border dispute
The Piscataqua River border dispute was a dispute between the US states of Maine and New Hampshire over ownership of Seavey’s Island in the Piscataqua River, which forms the border between Maine and New Hampshire. The dispute was settled in 2002 by the US Supreme Court in favor of Maine.Rattlesnake River
The Rattlesnake River is a 3.6-mile-long (5.9 km) river in eastern New Hampshire in the United States. It is a tributary of the Cocheco River, part of the Piscataqua River watershed leading to the Atlantic Ocean.
The river is located entirely in the town of Farmington. It rises north of Hussey Mountain and Chesley Mountain and flows east to the Cocheco River, dropping 500 feet in elevation over its length.Salmon Falls River
The Salmon Falls River is a tributary of the Piscataqua River in the U.S. states of Maine and New Hampshire. It rises at Great East Lake, Newichawannock Canal, and Horn Pond and flows south-southeast for approximately 38 miles (61 km), forming the border between York County, Maine, and Strafford County, New Hampshire.The Salmon Falls River joins the Cochecho River near Dover, New Hampshire to form the Piscataqua River.It provides hydroelectric power at the New Hampshire towns of Milton, North Rochester, East Rochester, New Hampshire, Somersworth, and Rollinsford, and in Maine at Berwick and South Berwick. The final three miles of the river, from South Berwick to the Piscataqua, are tidal.
Local Abenaki Indians called the river Newichawannock, meaning "river with many falls". See Newichawannock CanalWinnicut River
The Winnicut River is a 9.1-mile (14.6 km) long river in the Seacoast region of New Hampshire in the United States. It is the major southeastern tributary of Great Bay, an estuary connected by way of the tidal Piscataqua River to the Atlantic Ocean.
The Winnicut River rises at the northern outlet of Line Swamp in the town of North Hampton, New Hampshire, just west of Interstate 95. The river flows north through gently rolling fields and large-lot suburban development, eventually entering the town of Greenland. It crosses New Hampshire Route 33 and becomes a tidal river for its remaining mile to Great Bay.
|Bay of Fundy|
|Gulf of Maine|
|Gulf of Maine|
|Long Island Sound|