100 Central St, Marshfield, MA 02050, USA
Owned By: Town of Marshfield
Busy commercial harbor. Home to the Marshfield Harbormaster. Launch your boat from the public ramp, fish from the pier, or just sit and watch the fishing boats.
Prior to European contact, this land was within the region of the Wampanoag tribe.
Most of Marshfield’s commercial fishing fleet is based here. These are primarily inshore lobster boats, some of which fish for tuna during the season.
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.
The Harbor Walk, a concrete walkway (much like a sidewalk) extends for 0.8 miles from the Town Pier along the edge of the marsh to Harbor Park, the parking area for Brant Rock Beach, and Peter Igo Park. It is currently being extended to Green Harbor Marina. A spur connects to the Brant Rock Esplanade.
Habitats and Wildlife
The Marshfield Town Pier is located on Green Harbor. A short channel connects it to the open ocean.
The Green Harbor River finds its source in springs and ponds in Duxbury. It twists and turns through Marshfield via 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 Green Harbor.
Historic Site: No
Boat Launch: Yes
Size: 4.24 acres
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Parking: Large public parking area at Central Ave. and Joseph Driebeek Way
Cost: Daily boat launch rate is $7 for MA resident and $21 for out-of-state. Annual passes available from Harbormaster.
Trail Difficulty: Easy
Public launch ramp, pumpout, restrooms.
Boat Ramp: Yes
ADA Access: Yes
Scenic Views: Yes
Waterbody/Watershed: Green Harbor River/Atlantic Ocean