Straits Pond Dam, Nantasket Ave, Cohasset, MA 02025, USA
Owned By: Town of Hull
Stop here for views of Straits Pond as it enters the Weir River Estuary. New tide gates were installed in 2010. Located at West Corner, where the towns of Hull, Hingham and Cohasset come together. Also known as the Straits Pond Dam.
In 2010, the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, the Weir River Watershed Association, and the towns of Hull, Hingham and Cohasset worked together at this location on a major improvement project. The bridge was rebuilt, the failing tide gates were replaced, the culvert was enlarged and replaced, and the utilities located under the bridge were protected. The Lawry Reid Tide Gates are named for founder and president (2000-2008) of the Straits Pond Watershed Association.
Prior to European contact, a subset of the Massachusett tribe maintained a village on Straits Pond — a summer camp for fishing, shellfishing and agriculture. The tribe moved inland during the winter. A widespread plague decimated the area’s Native American population around 1616.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, European colonists harvested salt hay from the flats around Straits Pond to feed their livestock. A grist mill stood at West Corner, the western end of the pond, until it burned down in 1800. During Prohibition, the houses around the pond served as private drinking establishments, with alcohol rowed in from Canadian ships anchored a few miles off shore.
According to the Straits Pond Watershed Association, in 1900, the State Board of Health began to investigate issues regarding weed growth and foul odors at the pond. While recommendations were made, no action was taken.
A tide gate was installed in the 1940s. Problems persisted, in part because of polluted water being discharged to the pond at various locations. Some of these were addressed in the 1950s with chemical treatments including DDT and lead arsenate. In 1952, the State Board of Health was called in. While concerns about sewage and storm drain runoff entering the pond were identified, they were not addressed, beyond seasonal chemical treatments. Complaints about odors, weed growth, and bugs persisted.
Things began to shift in 1980. A study by an environmental consulting firm concluded that faulty septic systems, direct discharge of sewerage, and run off of lawn fertilizers were contributing to the eutrophication of the pond, and that minimal water exchange in the pond exacerbated the issues. In the 1990s, water quality issues were resolved by repairs and regulation of the tide gates, as well as connecting pollution sources to town sewer systems.
A 2017 study indicated that Straits Pond is now recovering from many decades of degradation. Some problems persist, but state and local agencies continue to collaborate to address them.
No trails, but walk across the Joseph W. McNamara Bridge and down the hill on the south side of the pond, where a bench offers a spot to enjoy the view.
Habitats and Wildlife
Straits Pond was formed 20,000 years ago by retreating glaciers, and sits atop the Ponkapoag Fault. Going back even father, there was once an active underwater volcano there, which formed the outcroppings at Gunrock and Black Rock Beaches, and Atlantic Hill, nearby. The pond empties into the Weir River here at West Corner in Hull. The tide gates control its flow. The Weir River flows through Hingham. Its mile-wide estuary forms the border between Hingham and Hull, and empties into Hingham Bay.
Some of the birds commonly viewed at Straits Pond include mute swan, blue jay, snowy egret, great egret, great blue heron, black-crowned night heron, double-crested cormorant, red breasted merganser, bufflehead, greater black-backed gull and ring-bellied gull. Aquatic residents include three-spine sticklebacks and mummichogs. As water quality in the pond improves, species such as eels, horseshoe crabs, soft shell and razor clams, and small fish are returning.
Historic Site: No
Boat Launch: No
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Parking: Limited roadside parking.
Trail Difficulty: Easy
Informational kiosk, bench.
Dogs: Dogs must remain on leash. Scoop the poop!
Boat Ramp: No
ADA Access: No
Scenic Views: Yes
Waterbody/Watershed: Straits Pond (Weir River watershed)