Cotuit Project: The Santuit River

I spent an hour roaming the woods of Mashpee off of Newtown Road before yesterday’s football games and discovered the headwaters of the Santuit River, the stream that forms the border between Cotuit and Mashpee.

This inspired me to return to the Cotuit project I started earlier this month and begin a work in progress on the Santuit River. That post can be found here on the Cotuit blog. The Santuit is more stream than river, but then again the Cape is known for calling its streams “rivers.” My first memory of the Santuit was as a youngster when my father took me to see the herring migrating upstream one spring near the intersection of Routes 130 and 28 where Cotuit/Santuit bumps into Mashpee. The torrent of alewives fighting upsteam to spawn in Santuit Pond was unforgettable, as was the tale of my father’s cat Willy who would disappear every April to camp out by the river and gorge on the fish. Today the river is a sad memory of its former glory, done in by over-development along its banks and the befouling of Santuit Pond by the many subdivisions that abut the waters that now turn a bright pea-soup green every summer.

The area I traipsed around is now conservation land, snatched from a golf course development scheme, but rich in Wampanoag lore and history. I highly recommend it to any one in the area who wants to experience one of the more remarkable wilderness areas left in the area. I also scrambled around in the brush at the culvert on Sampson’s Mill Road (also known as Old King’s Road) where a grist mill once operated grinding the locals grains into flour. The only evidence remaining is the old mill’s foundation stones used to build the bridge over the stream.

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