Sudbury River

The Sudbury River is a 32.7-mile-long (52.6 km) tributary of the Concord River in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, in the United States.[1]

Originating in the Cedar Swamp in Westborough, Massachusetts, near the boundary with Hopkinton, the Sudbury River meanders generally northeast, through Fairhaven Bay, and to its confluence with the Assabet River at Egg Rock in Concord, Massachusetts, to form the Concord River. It has a 162-square-mile (420 km2) drainage area. A 1775 map identifies the river by this name as passing through the town of Sudbury, itself established 1639.

Sudbury River (Massachusetts) map
Sudbury River, lower section, from the 1894 USGS Framingham, Mass. quadrangle)

On April 9, 1999, nearly 17 miles (27 km) of the river were "recognized for their outstanding ecology, history, scenery, recreation values, and place in American literature," by being designated as a part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The 14.9-mile (24.0 km) segment of the Sudbury River beginning at the Danforth Street Bridge in the town of Framingham, downstream to the Route 2 bridge in Concord, is designated as a Scenic River, and the 1.7-mile (2.7 km) segment from the Route 2 bridge downstream to its confluence with the Assabet River at Egg Rock is designated as a Recreational River, along with adjoining stretches of the Assabet and Concord rivers.[2]

Mercury contamination was discovered in the 1970s from the Nyanza plant in Ashland. The EPA subsequently listed the town as a toxic site and led a cleanup effort to repair the damage.[3] It is still recommended that fish caught downriver not be eaten.

Sudbury River
Sudbury River Wayland MA Aerial
Section of the river in Wayland, Massachusetts
CountryUnited States
TypeScenic, Recreational
DesignatedApril 9, 1999


An 1834 book on the history of Concord, Lemuel Shattuck, stated that in Concord the river upstream of the Assabet River was considered a continuation of the Concord River, but also some instances the south branch of the Concord and the Assabet the north branch. In Sudbury town records the river was referred to as the Great River early on, later the Sudbury River. West of Framingham the Sudbury was called the Hopkinton River (it borders Hopkinton, west of Ashland). Not until 1856 maps was it the Sudbury River from Westborough to Concord.


The Sudbury River starts at Cedar Swamp Pond in a swampy area in Westborough and flows northeast 32.7 miles (52.6 km), starting at an elevation of 327 feet (100 m) and descending through the towns of Westborough, Hopkinton, Southborough, Ashland, Framingham, Wayland, Sudbury, Lincoln and finally Concord, where it merges (42.4653°N 71.3584°W) with the Assabet River at Egg Rock to form the beginning of the Concord River, at an elevation of 100 ft (30 m). As of 2017 there are five historic dams on the Sudbury River: two Framingham Reservoir dams, Fenwick Street Dam and Saxonville Dam in Framingham, and Myrtle Street Dam, in Ashland. The river is crossed by 34 road bridges, five railroad bridges and two footbridges. Its watershed covers 162 square miles (420 km2).

Starting in November 1979 the U.S. Geological Survey installed and maintains a gauge for river depth and flow rate on the Sudbury River, downstream of the Danforth Street Bridge, Saxonville, Framingham. The upstream watershed is 106 square miles (270 km2), 65% of the total Sudbury River watershed. The average flow rate for 37 years of complete data (1981-2016) is 201 cubic feet per second (cfs). Flow rate changes with seasons - summer months average 80 cfs while spring months average 375 cfs. Highest recorded flow was 2,570 cfs on March 31, 2010. Water depth at the gauge on that date was 13.95 feet. Any time depth exceeds 13.0 feet the river is considered to be in major flood status. Last major flood before 2010 was April 8, 1987, 13.47 feet.[4]

Invasive Species

Water caltrop, more commonly known as water chestnut, species Trapas natans, is an invasive waterplant from western Asia. The initial introductions in the U.S. were in the 1870s in Cambridge, MA, followed by deliberate introduction into ponds near the Concord and Sudbury Rivers. This is now an invasive, habitat-destroying plant across many of the eastern states. On the Sudbury River, OARS (Organization for the Assabet, Sudbury and Concord Rivers) organizes annual plant pulling events. Volunteers in canoes hand-pull the surface-floating rosettes of leaves and nuts before the nuts mature and fall to the bottom. The infestation on the Sudbury River is particularly bad between the Fenwick Street and Saxonville dams, where the water surface can be more than 80% covered.

Recreational Boating

OARS - the Organization for the Assabet, Sudbury and Concord Rivers has detailed on-line and downloadable maps for six sections of the Sudbury River, including locations and descriptions of put-ins for canoes or kayaks.[5] For those interested in renting, the South Bridge Boat House, on Route 62 west of the center of Concord offers "Rent a canoe or kayak and explore miles of peaceful waterways on the Assabet, Sudbury and Concord Rivers."[6]

Sudbury River, Wayland MA

Sudbury River in Wayland


  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed October 3, 2011
  2. ^ "National Wild and Scenic Rivers - Sudbury, Assabet and Concord Rivers - Massachusetts"; "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-12-23. Retrieved 2010-11-02.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Superfund site: Nyanza chemical waste dump, Ashland, MA";
  5. ^ "River Recreation Map for the Assabet & Sudbury".
  6. ^ "South Bridge Boat House, Concord, MA".
  • McAdow, Ron (2000). The Concord, Sudbury and Assabet Rivers, A Guide to Canoeing, Wildlife and History, Second Edition. Bliss Publishing Co., Inc. ISBN 0-9625144-4-6.
  • Zwinger, Ann & Teale, Edwin Way (1982). A Conscious Stillness: Two Naturalists on Thoreau's Rivers. New York, NY: Harper & Row. ISBN 0-06-015002-5.

Coordinates: 42°27′52″N 71°21′30″W / 42.4644°N 71.3583°W

Ashland Dam and Spillway

The Ashland Dam and Spillway is a historic site at the north end of Ashland Reservoir in Ashland State Park in Ashland, Massachusetts. Ashland Reservoir was constructed in 1885, impounding a portion of Cold Spring Brook, a tributary of the Sudbury River. The dam and spillway were built as part of Boston's second major water works effort, which impounded large portions of the upper Sudbury River. They were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.

Assabet River

The Assabet River is a small river about 20 miles (30 km) west of Boston, Massachusetts, United States. The river is 34.4 miles (55.4 km) long. OARS: the Organization for the Assabet, Sudbury and Concord Rivers, headquartered in West Concord, Massachusetts, is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation, protection, and enhancement of the natural and recreational features of these three rivers and their watershed. The Assabet and Sudbury Rivers merge in Concord to become the Concord River.

Cedar Swamp Archeological District

Cedar Swamp Archeological District is a prehistoric and historic archaeologically sensitive area in eastern Westborough, Massachusetts, and extending into the northwest corner of Hopkinton. Cedar Swamp is an area of more than 2,600 acres (1,100 ha) of wetlands that include the headwaters area of the Sudbury River. Archeological surveys of the environmentally sensitive and critical area have identified many Native American sites of interest. It is believed that Native Americans prized wood from the cedar trees that grew in the area. The archeological district, which encompasses much of the Cedar Swamp area, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

Chestnut Hill Reservoir Historic District

The Chestnut Hill Reservoir Historic District is a historic district encompassing the Chestnut Hill Reservoir and the surrounding water works facilities which were historically used to provide fresh water to Boston, Massachusetts, and surrounding towns. The district is nearly coextensive with the Chestnut Hill Reservation, a state park managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR); those elements of the water works that are still required as an emergency backup are managed by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA). The reservoir is located between Beacon Street and Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, just east of the Boston College Main Campus Historic District and the Boston-Newton city line. Most of the water works facilities are also located in Boston; the terminal house of the Sudbury Aqueduct, which is part of this district, is located just over the line in Newton.The Chestnut Hill Reservoir was built between 1865 and 1870 to supplement the capacity of the Brookline Reservoir, which was then the terminus of the Cochituate Aqueduct. The Sudbury Aqueduct was completed in 1878, providing water to the reservoir from the Sudbury River in Boston's western suburbs. Its terminal chamber, a single-story granite Romanesque structure with a hip roof, stands across Beacon Street from the reservoir, and houses gates for controlling flow into the reservoir from both the Cochituate Aqueduct (now defunct) and the Sudbury Aqueduct (in backup service), and from the reservoir to the Brookline Reservoir. The other major structure in the district is the high service pumping station, a massive Romanesque structure designed by Arthur Vinal in 1887, which is now a museum.The Chestnut Hill Reservoir and pumping stations were designated a Boston Landmark by the Boston Landmarks Commission in 1989.

Cochituate, Massachusetts

Cochituate (; koh-CHIT-choo-it) is a census-designated place (CDP) in the town of Wayland in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 6,569 at the 2010 census.

Egg Rock

Egg Rock is an outcrop of Silurian Straw Hollow Diorite at the confluence of the Assabet and Sudbury rivers, where they form the Concord River in Concord, Massachusetts. The outcrop is located on a roughly oval intermittent island of about 100 by 50 meters. Egg Rock is usually accessible using foot trails over land, but during high river levels the island is separated from the mainland by a narrow channel. The highest point of Egg Rock is about 39 meters above mean sea level and about 6 meters above normal river level.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) includes Egg Rock as GNIS feature 617309, classified as an island. In the GNIS database as of February 2010, the listed position (latitude 42.4645383, longitude -71.3592266) is misplaced by about 125 meters to the southwest, and is not actually located on the intermittent island. A more correct position is latitude 42.4651, longitude -71.3585.

Fairhaven Bay

Fairhaven Bay is a lake located within the Sudbury river in Concord, Massachusetts, United States (US). It was frequented by David Henry Thoreau who, together with Edward Hoar, accidentally set fire to the woods near the bay in April 1844, as later described in Thoreau's journal.In 1895, George Bradford Bartlett, ”well-known in connection with the Manse boathouse”, wrote of the cliffs near Fairhaven Bay on the Sudbury River: "For more than a hundred years these cliffs have been a favorite resort for the nature lover, and the climax of many a Sunday walk or autumnal holiday trip, as no better view can be had of the waving tree-tops and gentle river".To the North, the Bay is bordered by Wright Woods, owned by the Concord Land Conservation Trust. The woods, where Thoreau often walked, link the Fairhaven Bay trails and the Lincoln Conservation land with the Walden Pond State Reservation

Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge

The Great Meadows Wildlife Refuge is a 12-mile-long (19 km) river wetlands conservation area, in two major parcels, stretching from the towns of Billerica, Massachusetts (downstream) to Wayland, Massachusetts (upstream), along the Concord River and Sudbury River.

Part of the National Wildlife Refuge system, the park is a popular destination for bird watchers and tourists. About 85 percent of the refuge's 3,600 acres (15 km2) is freshwater wetlands.

Hopkinton Dam and Spillway

The Hopkinton Dam and Spillway is a historic site at the eastern end of Hopkinton Reservoir in Hopkinton State Park in Ashland, Massachusetts. The western end of the reservoir lies in the town of Hopkinton. The reservoir was constructed between 1891 and 1894 as part of the city of Boston's second major water works project, the impoundment of significant portions of the Sudbury River watershed. The Hopkinton Dam impounds Indian Brook, a Sudbury River tributary, creating the reservoir to its south. The core of the dam is concrete, with earthen embankments that are bermed on the water side, with rip-rap below. The spillway is at the northern end of the dam, and is a 650-foot (200 m) series of steps lined with granite set in concrete. Unlike other dams in the system, this one apparently never had gatehouses built above the chambers from which water flow is controlled.The dam and spillway were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.

List of rivers of Massachusetts

List of rivers in Massachusetts (U.S. state).

All Massachusetts rivers flow to the Atlantic Ocean. The list is arranged by drainage basin from north to south, with respective tributaries indented under each larger stream's name, arranged travelling upstream along the larger stream.

Nancy Lee Gossels

Nancy Lee Gossels is an American artist, editor and poet known for her sculpture and liturgical works. Gossels was named a Copley Artist in 1996 by the prestigious Copley Society of Art. She is also co-editor of the first egalitarian Jewish prayer book, Vetaher Libenu, published in 1980.

National Register of Historic Places listings in Framingham, Massachusetts

Framingham, Massachusetts, has 18 locations listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

This National Park Service list is complete through NPS recent listings posted July 12, 2019.

Old Connecticut Path

The Old Connecticut Path was the Native American trail that led westward from the area of Massachusetts Bay to the Connecticut River Valley, the very first of the North American trails that led west from the settlements close to the Atlantic seacoast, towards the interior. The earliest colonists of Massachusetts Bay Colony used it, and rendered it wider by driving cattle along it. The old route is still followed, for part of its length, by Massachusetts Route 9 and Massachusetts Route 126.

In lean years of the early 1630s, when the Massachusetts Bay Colony ran short of grain, Nipmuck farmers in the valley of the Connecticut River loaded some of their abundant surplus maize into birch-bark backpacks and trod a familiar route to the settlements at the mouth of the Charles River, where they traded food for European goods made of copper and iron and woollen cloth. Fur traders and the exploratory party of John Oldham (1633) penetrated this first of the trails west into the continent's interior. In 1635, some settlers from Watertown took this route when they removed to Wethersfield, Connecticut.

In 1636, the outcast Thomas Hooker and a hundred of his congregation, with 160 cattle, whose milk they drank en route, followed the Old Connecticut Path in a two-weeks' journey to the Connecticut River. There they settled in a place the native Lenape people called Suckiaug, because of the blackness of its earth. They founded the English settlement of Hartford. By 1643, documents in the village of Sudbury called this trail the "Old Connecticut Path." In 1672, with the establishment of a postal system, it became the first colonial post road.

Long native usage had emphasized the easiest route, skirting the water meadows of the river bottoms and crossing streams at the most dependable fords. The Path led west along the north bank of the Charles River from New Town (Cambridge) to newly settled Watertown and passed through what are now Waltham and Weston, curving southward where it entered the southeasterly section of the new town of Sudbury, now set apart as Wayland, where a section of the route still bears the name "Old Connecticut Path". At Wayland, the Bay Path, later the Boston Post Road, diverged from the Connecticut Path, headed west through Marlborough, Worcester and Brookfield straight toward the Connecticut River. In Sudbury the Connecticut Path was known as "the road from Watertown to the Dunster Farm", for after passing along the north side of Cochituate Pond, it crossed the tract beyond that was granted to Henry Dunster, president of Harvard College, and the lands of Edmund Rice and Philemon Whale. The trail crossed the Sudbury River at "Danforth's Farm", since 1700 incorporated as Framingham, where another section (Route 126) retains the name "Old Connecticut Path", threading past the northern shore of Lake Cochituate. The Connecticut Path headed west, threading between the Charles and Sudbury rivers on its way to the Connecticut River. "From Framingham the Old Connecticut Path runs southward through South Framingham, Ashland (Megunko), Hopkinton (Quansigamog), then through Westborough and over Fay Mountain, to the praying town of Grafton (Hassanamesit/Hassanamisco), through Sutton and then beyond to Woodstock, Conn.", and west to the bank of the Connecticut River opposite Hartford. During the trip to Connecticut the Path crosses the Blackstone River, that crossing was known as the North Bridge and the Quinebaug River crossing was known as the South Bridge, both Northbridge and Southbridge were named after those well-known landmark locations.

Old North Bridge

The North Bridge, often colloquially called the Old North Bridge, is a historical site in the Battle of Concord, the first day of battle in the American War of Independence. The current wooden pedestrian bridge is a replica of the one that stood at the day of the battle. It and nearby sites are now part of the Minute Man National Historical Park of the National Park Service, an extremely popular tourist destination.

The current bridge is located in its original location off Monument Street in Concord, Massachusetts. It spans the Concord River 0.5 miles northeast from the start of the river at the confluence of the Assabet River and the Sudbury River at Egg Rock.

Saxonville, Massachusetts

Saxonville is a historic mill village located in the north end of the city of Framingham, in Middlesex County, Massachusetts 01701.

Stone's Bridge

Stone's Bridge is a historic stone arch bridge in Framingham and Wayland, Massachusetts. It is located just north of Stonebridge Road, and partially crosses the Sudbury River. Built in 1858, it is a well-preserved example of mid-19th century stone bridge construction, despite its truncation in 1955 due to a shift in the river channel. The bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. It is closed to all access.

Sudbury, Massachusetts

Sudbury is a town in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States. At the 2010 census, it had a population of 17,659. The town, located in Boston's MetroWest, has a rich colonial history.

Sudbury Reservoir

The Sudbury Reservoir (2.02 square miles) is an emergency backup Boston metropolitan water reservoir located in Framingham, Marlborough, Southborough, and Westborough, Massachusetts. Nearly 5,000 acres (2,000 ha) in the Sudbury Reservoir watershed are administered by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation as a limited-access public recreation area.The reservoir was first begun in 1878, as part of a system of reservoirs fed from the Sudbury River to supplement the Lake Cochituate system in Natick. Today's reservoir was created by excavation from 1894-1898, with construction undertaken in sections. It was begun by the City of Boston but completed by the newly formed Metropolitan Water Board (predecessor to the modern Massachusetts Water Resources Authority). All told, construction required moving about 4.5 million cubic yards of soil and boulders. Water began to fill the reservoir on February 8, 1897, with construction of the reservoir's new Sudbury Dam on the Stony Brook Branch of the Sudbury River completed later that year.When completed, the reservoir's surface area was 2.02 square miles (5.2 km2), its average depth was 17 feet (5.2 m) and maximum depth was 65 feet (20 m), and its capacity was 7.253 billion US gallons (27,460,000 m3). The reservoir was fed from the Wachusett Reservoir on the west by the Wachusett Aqueduct (1898), and by local streams. To improve the water quality of the local streams, filter beds were constructed adjacent to the reservoir. The reservoir's water was delivered to the Weston Reservoir to the east by the Weston Aqueduct (1901), or via a channel to the Framingham reservoirs and the Sudbury Aqueduct to the Chestnut Hill Reservoir.

In 1947 the obsolete Whitehall, Hopkinton, Ashland and Cochituate reservoirs became state parks, and in 1976 the entire Sudbury System was officially reclassified as an emergency water supply. Today only the Sudbury Reservoir and the Foss Reservoir (Framingham Reservoir No. 3) remain as reserve drinking water supplies with the Weston and Sudbury aqueuducts serving as reserve transmission. In an emergency the Sudbury and Foss reservoirs can be placed into service either as a primary source, as an alternate pass-through for Quabbin/Wachusett reservoir water in the event of a transmission problem blocking the normal transmission pathways, or as a supplemental source in a major drought. In all cases the water would be untreated and would likely require boiling for consumption.

Vetaher Libenu

Vetaher Libenu (Purify Our Hearts), is a siddur published by the lay people of Congregation Beth El of the Sudbury River Valley, in Sudbury, Massachusetts, to serve the needs of that Reform Congregation. It is the first siddur to use non-sexist, inclusive language and to refer to God using feminine and masculine pronouns.

Atlantic Ocean
Gulf of Maine
Long Island Sound
Narragansett Bay
Upper New York Bay


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