Joseph Driebeck Way, Marshfield, MA 02050, USA
Owned By: Town of Marshfield
Harbor Park is a small, grassy town park, located directly on Green Harbor itself. The Harbor Walk is a wide, 1-mile long, sidewalk-type walkway. It connects Harbor Park to the Marshfield Town Pier, the Brant Rock Esplanade, and Peter Igo Park. It extends along Route 139, crossing the Green Harbor River, and continues to Careswell Street. Stroller-friendly.
The Marshfield Kiwanis Club maintains the town-owned Harbor Park.
Some Green Harbor history: Ever since the Pilgrims settled in Marshfield, there have been efforts to improve the Green Harbor River’s navigability. In 1633, a canal was dug to better connect the river to the bay. In 1636, this canal was widened and deepened per order of the court.
The original mouth of the Green Harbor River, which was located on the Marshfield/Duxbury line, more than a half mile south of the present mouth, was closed by a storm in 1806. The present mouth opened in 1810, probably via the combined effects of nature and manpower.
According to Joseph C. Hagar’s Marshfield, 70’40” W, 42’5” N: The Autobiography of a Pilgrim Town, in 1806, a group of Marshfield landowners successfully petitioned the court for permission to dig a more direct canal from Green Harbor to Duxbury Bay. Known today as the Cut River, this canal flowed through the marshes and meadows behind Green Harbor Beach, and out to sea near present-day Canal Street on the Duxbury line. But soon after the canal was complete a November storm closed off its mouth completely.
An even more direct outlet was cut in 1810 – and remains to this day. While prior attempts to improve the river’s navigability had been permitted — or even decreed — by the court, this was a case of townspeople taking matters into their own hands. Hagar’s writes, “This labor was done under cover of night and about forty men were engaged in the undertaking.” (This was not an uncommon practice – similar attempts were made to improve the outlet for the North River.)
By eliminating the narrow last leg of the river, the 1810 cut dramatically increased the incoming tidal flow to the Green Harbor River. This was a boon to local fishermen, as it improved the harbor’s navigability. However the owners of farms bordering the river saw things differently. The increase in both the volume and the frequency of saltwater flooding to their lands was a big problem, as crops don’t like salt water.
So in 1871, a group of farmers petitioned the court to construct a dike, or tide gate, that would block the flow of saltwater upstream, and create more arable land. The dike was constructed in 1872, with the condition that “Should shoaling take place above the level of mean low water in the channel in consequence of dike construction, it was to be removed by the Marsh proprietors.” Shoaling did occur, and thus began the “Brant Rock Dike Feud.” Read all about it on our blog.
A wide, ADA-accessible concrete walkways extend across, and around the perimeter, of Harbor Park. The Harbor Walk, which is basically a sidewalk, extends between the roadway and the edge of the marsh from the Marshfield Town Pier, past Harbor Park and a parking lot for Brant Rock Beach, and onward to Peter Igo Park, up Route 139, across the Brant Rock Dike to Careswell Street. Next to the Water Treatment Plant, there is a spur trail to the Brant Rock Esplanade. The total length is about 1 mile.
Habitats and Wildlife
Harbor Park is situated right at the edge of Green Harbor itself. The Harbor Walk extends along the edge of the salt marsh from one side the harbor to the other. This is a prime location for spotting shorebirds. Snowy egrets are often seen in the marsh.
The Green Harbor River finds its source in springs and ponds in Duxbury. It twists and turns through Marshfield via a large cranberry bog complex, the Green Harbor Golf Club, the Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary, property owned by the Marshfield Municipal Airport, and Peter Igo Park. Just downstream of the Dyke Road bridge (and dike) it flows into the Atlantic Ocean at Green Harbor.
Historic Site: No
Boat Launch: No
Size: 2.3 acres
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Parking: Small parking lot across the street on Joseph Driebeck Way (Town Pier Road).
Trail Difficulty: Easy
At Harbor Park: benches, covered picnic area, trash receptacles.
Along the Harbor Walk: benches on the Brant Rock Dike (at Green Harbor River)
Boat Ramp: No
ADA Access: Yes
Scenic Views: Yes
Waterbody/Watershed: Green Harbor River