Saturday, July 25, 2009

Down by the Riverside

No kayaking or biking this weekend (sigh), but I would like to share a little about the Nashua Riverwalk we took two weeks ago. The photo above shows a view of the river from the restored Cotton Transfer Bridge (completed in 2007). You can access this "bridge to nowhere" from Water Street, behind Clocktower Place apartments in downtown Nashua. More on the bridge in a minute. For now, I hope you'll keep reading to find out more about the Nashua River and other riverwalks in the state.

A Little History
I've lived in the area long enough to remember back to the 60's and 70's when the Nashua River was a smelly, polluted mess of industrial waste -- in fact it had the dubious distinction of being among the top 10 dirtiest rivers in the United States. We used to hold our noses to avoid the smell of rotten eggs when driving by!

I'm so happy that those days are behind us and the river has been cleaned up so we can all enjoy it. I've learned that the clean-up came about largely through the efforts of one very dedicated and tenacious housewife named Marion Stoddart. She took on the clean-up of the river almost single-handedly and didn't quit until it was done. Thank you, Marion! If you're interested, you can learn more about the Nashua River and Marion's amazing efforts to save it at Work of 1000.

Nashua Riverwalk Project
Now back to our walk. We joined a group led by Kathy Hersh, Nashua's Community Development Director, for an interesting talk about the ongoing work to create a true riverwalk in downtown Nashua. It's been part of the city's master plan since 1983 and is happening slowly (can I say very slowly?) but surely.

The historic 1910 Cotton Transfer Bridge (to nowhere) is part of that effort. Right now it's a pedestrian walk to an abandoned cotton storage building, but eventually the building will be demolished and the bridge will connect the south bank of the river to a boardwalk on the north.

Plans are also underway to improve the safety of the existing (and little known) river walkway behind the Nashua Public Library. For now, if you're in or around Nashua, you can get up close and personal with the river at various points, including from a small park on the west side of the Main Street bridge, or from Le Parc de Notre Renaissance Francaise, accessed from Water Street. From there, you can see (and walk) the Cotton Transfer Bridge. Better yet, you can canoe or kayak the river like we did this summer.
Other River Walks in the State
Here's a list of a few scenic river strolls in New Hampshire. I haven't walked any of these so I can't make recommendations or give specifics. My guess is that none of these are destinations in themselves. But if you're in the area, it's a nice way to slow down and explore the waterfront.

Cocheco River in Dover
Check out Henry Law park which has sidewalks and a covered bridge

Bellamy River Sanctuary
Bayview Road, Dover
Trails through woods along the Bellamy River

Oyster River in Durham
Oyster River Landing, Mill Pond and sidewalks

Lamprey River in Newmarket
Town Landing and Heron Point Sanctuary (off Bay Road)

Squamscott River in Exeter
Swasey Parkway, sidewalks, boardwalk, walking paths

Laconia Riverwalk
This 1.03 mile stretch along the banks of the Winnepesaukee River features several historic buildings and sites. There are many access points, including Rotary Riverside Park on Beacon Street East and Stewart Park on Union Avenue.

Riverwalk of Littleton
Off Mill Street, there is a covered walking bridge that connects to a short walking path along the Ammonoosuc River.

Add to the list?
If you know of others in the state, please send us a comment and let us know. I'm sure there are many more!

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