Owned By: Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Site of the early Stetson Shipyard. Now the location of the Route 3 bridge over the North River. In earlier times, a prehistoric Native American encampment was location here. Records indicate that the hill was in fact bald, although now it is well-forested. No public access from the land, but the view can be amazing as you drive over the bridge! To set your feet on the ground nearby, visit the Masthead Drive Trail in Norwell, just upstream.
The Stetson Shipyard was located just southwest of the Route 3 bridge, on the Norwell side. It was not included in the iconic Briggs “History of Shipbuilding on North River,” but from Stetson family papers, it is evident that this was an early, busy shipyard.
Benjamin Stetson may have been the original owner. Three generations of Stetsons worked the shipyard, which was eventually taken over by Nathaniel Church, who built vessels here in 1746. The farm and shipyard were eventually sold to Michael Ford, a shipbuilder farther upstream at Fox Hill. Three generations of the Ford Family succeeded him here. Both the Stetson and the Ford shipbuilding enterprises began with small open boats called shallops. Usually about 30 feet in length, these were ideally suited for coastal travel, which was the best way to get around in those days.
Michael Ford was born in Marshfield at Gravelly Beach on the North River. He married Roda Copeland in 1778 and settled on the farm purchased from Ebenezer Stetson. His son Michael succeeded him. Michael Ford Jr. had sons – Michael, William, and David. He died in 1877 at an advanced age.
No trails, but very close by is the Masthead Drive Trail, which extends through the woods for 0.4-mile, ending at the North River, just west of the Route 3 Bridge.
Habitats and Wildlife
Swamp and woodland have taken over the land once cleared for agriculture and shipbuilding.
This property is located directly on the North River. The North River rises from marshes and springs in Weymouth, Rockland and Hanson. It is approximately 10 miles in length, with its source at the confluence of the Indian Head River (Hanover) and Herring Brook (Pembroke). From there it flows through the towns of Hanover, Pembroke, Marshfield, Norwell, and Scituate to the Atlantic Ocean between Third and Fourth Cliffs, draining approximately 59,000 acres along the way.
Historic Site: Yes
Boat Launch: No
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Parking: No public parking.
Trail Difficulty: No trails.
Boat Ramp: No
ADA Access: No
Scenic Views: Yes
Waterbody/Watershed: North River