Historical Sites

Bluefish River Firehouse and Grist Mill

645 Washington St, Duxbury, MA 02332, USA

Owned By: Town of Duxbury

This scenic spot features two historic sites. Located across the street from the Reynolds-Maxwell Garden, on the banks of the Bluefish River.


According to Dorothy Wentworth’s Settlement and Growth of Duxbury 1628-1870, the c. 1803 construction of a dam and drawbridge at this site was a contentious issue. But soon after the bridge was built, the Bluefish River estuary became an active shipbuilding center. Six shipyards, as well as related industries such as forges, sail lofts, and a rope walk were all present along the river. Shipbuilders here included Israel Sylvester and Deacon George Loring, who also operated an anchor forge and salt works.

The Bluefish River Firehouse, originally known as Engine Company #1, originally stood on St. George Street, next to what was then the town library (c. 1906). In 1908, the building was moved to its present location on the Bluefish River, to make room for the construction of the Wright Building. It served as a firehouse until the central fire station was built in 1968. It is now used as a boathouse for the Harbormaster.

The Bluefish River Grist Mill dates back to 1766, when a mill and dam were established at this spot. It was a tide mill, powered by the incoming and outgoing tides. During Duxbury’s shipbuilding era, after the construction of a bridge here, mills to power ship smith and gunsmith shops were added. The last mill at this location was demolished in 1877.

This land is within the region of the Patuxet Wampanoag tribe, who for centuries have inhabited the area around the Jones River now known as Duxbury, Kingston and Plymouth.

Trail Description

No trails, but expand your visit by crossing Washington Street and checking out the Reynolds-Maxwell Garden, which offers additional river views.

Habitats and Wildlife

The Bluefish River originates in ponds and springs between Duxbury’s Station & Washington Streets and Partridge Road, and flows north, parallel to the coast, to the Cushman Preserve. From there, it turns east, passing under Washington Street, where it opens up into a broad estuary. The Bluefish River merges with the Duxbury Back River in Duxbury Bay.

645 Washington St, Duxbury, MA 02332, USA

Historic Site: Yes

Park: No

Beach: No

Boat Launch: Yes

Lifeguards: No

Hours: Dawn to Dusk

Parking: Limited on-site parking.

Cost: Free

Trail Difficulty: Easy


Historic markers.

Dogs: Dogs must remain on leash.

Boat Ramp: No

ADA Access: No

Scenic Views: Yes

Waterbody/Watershed: Bluefish River

Other Things to Do at This Site