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Historical Sites

Sea Street Bridge

2 Sea St, Marshfield, MA 02050, USA

Owned By: Town of Marshfield

Sea Street is the main road connecting Humarock to Marshfield. It crosses the South River and becomes  Marshfield Avenue. The bridge was officially named in 1998 to honor Captain Frederick Stanley, who was the keeper of Scituate’s first life saving station, near Fourth Cliff. At the western end of the bridge, look for the historical marker for White’s Ferry. One of the earliest shipyards on the North River was located near this spot, as well as a ferry service (1638-1881/1882).

Features

The Sea Street Bridge was originally constructed in 1888, and fortified during WWII to sustain heavy equipment going to the military base on Fourth Cliff. Then in 1952, it was rebuilt entirely – still as a wooden structure. It was formally dedicated in 1998, to mark the 100th Anniversary of the Portland Gale, and then replaced entirely in 2007-2008, with state funding. At the same time, the channel under the bridge was dug deeper and wider, to improve conditions for boat traffic. While the 1952 bridge was made of wood, the current version is an eight-span pre-cast concrete structure.

The bridge is named for Captain Frederick Stanley, who was keeper of Scituate’s first federal life-saving station. The Fourth Cliff Lifesaving Station (part of The Humane Society, which later became the United States Coast Guard,) was located in a remote spot on the south side of Fourth Cliff, just under the big bluff. Built in 1879, it burned down in 1915 or 1919. It was not rebuilt, because by then the Coast Guard was using different boats and different ports.

In 1638, a ferry boat employed in transporting both people and cattle operated between Marshfield and Scituate here at the narrowest place in the North River (now the South River). At the time, the location was known as New Harbor Marsh. Jonathan Brewster was the first ferryman. He was the son of Elder Brewster of Mayflower fame. He sold the ferry service in 1641 to Barker and Howell. Ralph Chapman later ran the ferry service, and then in 1712 Benjamin White, grandson of Peregrine White, took over. From that point on, it was known as White’s Ferry.

There was a shipyard at White’s Ferry as early as 1705. The sloop Mary & Abigail (40 tons) was built that year. Simeon Keene built ships in 1787, beginning with the schooner Neptune (64 tons). Then from 1825-40 the Hall Family (mostly Luke, plus William and Samuel) built ships there. The only steamboat built on the North River was built there in 1839, the Mattakeesett (21 tons). The steamboat was intended to be put to use towing new vessels downriver, but this proved to be difficult because the winding course of the river did not permit an ample length of tow line. The Mattakeesett was sold and put to use in Boston Harbor instead. White’s Ferry Shipyard also produced spars, sails, cordage and rigging. Ships built upstream were often rigged here, and many also had their masts stepped, before setting out to sea.

The ferry was replaced in 1881-1882 by the bridge from Marshfield to Humarock Beach. The bridge was constructed by The Fourth Cliff Land Company, to whom the town gave a quitclaim deed to “all the land or Hummocks below Fourth Cliff between the North River and the ocean to low water mark.” The bridge was built to service the resort hotel, Hotel Humarock. Over the bridge from Marshfield, it was on the right.

In the early days of Plymouth Colony, the Pilgrim Trail, also known as Green Harbor Path, was the main route from Plymouth to Scituate. From North Plymouth, it followed the coastline through Kingston, crossing the Jones River near Rocky Nook at a location known as the Wading Place. It continued through Duxbury along a route west of today’s Tremont Street/3A, and crossed into Marshfield at Careswell Street. Heading north through Marshfield, it crossed the Green Harbor River near today’s Bourne Park Ave. and crossed the South River at a spot called Valley Bars. From there it proceeded along the base of Snake Hill (Telegraph Hill) to White’s Ferry. After the ferry crossing at what was then the North River (now the South River), it proceeded along Humarock’s barrier beach, crossing into Scituate’s mainland between Fourth and Third Cliffs (the present location of the North River mouth). From there, it led to the Scituate First Church. This road was formally designated by Plymouth Colony in 1637. It was probably the first court-ordered road in America.

This land is within the region of the Massachuseuk (or Massachusett) Native American tribe.

Trail Description

No trails but you can walk across the bridge.

Habitats and Wildlife

The South River, like the North River, is a beautiful tidal estuary where wildlife abounds! Paddling or boating on this estuary allows you to go shellfishing, fishing or just exploring. Downstream there are salt marshes and numerous creeks, host to egrets and blue heron. You might even see a bald eagle!

2 Sea St, Marshfield, MA 02050, USA

Historic Site: Yes

Park: No

Beach: No

Boat Launch: No

Lifeguards: No

Hours: Dawn to Dusk

Parking: Limited public parking on Sea Street and across the bridge on Marshfield Ave.

Cost: Free

Trail Difficulty: Easy

Facilities:

No

Dogs: Dogs must remain on leash. Scoop the poop!

Boat Ramp: No

ADA Access: Yes

Scenic Views: Yes

Waterbody/Watershed: South River

Other Things to Do at This Site