67 Bridge St, Norwell, MA 02061, USA
Owned By: Town of Norwell, Town of Marshfield
The Union Street Bridge spans the North River from Union Street in Marshfield to Bridge Street in Norwell. On the Marshfield side, there is a launch for canoes and kayaks. On the Norwell side, there is a Town Landing with a ramp for boats (residents only). This is also the starting line for the NSRWA’s annual Great River Race.
Tide Math: High tide at the Union Street Bridge is about 60-90 minutes after the Boston high tide.
On the water in this area, be aware of swift currents and low bridge clearance.
For related information, please see the listing for Norwell Town Landing and Marshfield Launch / Brooks & Tilden Shipyard.
Set off from here to go clamming. See the North River Shellfishing Map for locations.) The clam flats in both the North and South Rivers are open from November 1 to May 31st. If there is a Red Tide, they may close sooner.
Beginning around 1644, Elisha Bisbee of Scituate operated a ferry at this site. His son kept a tavern nearby. Bisbee's Ferry was also known as The Upper Ferry. Later, when the Oakman family took over, it was known as Oakman's Ferry (1760-1770). John Tolman was the last person to operate the ferry, beginning in 1770. The site was also a landing for packet ships.
Tolman became the toll keeper when the first bridge at this site was constructed, in 1801. It was a drawbridge, which was necessary to permit the passage of the large vessels built in the shipyards upriver. After Tolman, Hatch Tilden became the toll collector. He lived in a house to the east of the bridge on the Marshfield side, and held this position for 40 years.
In 1850, when sufficient tolls had been collected to settle any remaining construction debts, a jubilee was held, and crossing the bridge became free of charge. The bridge was replaced in 1898, and rebuilt again in 1917, after sustaining significant storm damage. A subsequent bridge, constructed in 1961 or 1972, stood for many years. It was a drawbridge, but the draw mechanism did not actually work! Today's bridge was constructed in 2010.
The remains of a North River ferry boat are visible from the northern bank of the river, just upstream from here on the Norwell side, at dead low tide. (Water access only.) The landings on both sides of the Union Street Bridge are ideal places to launch your canoe or kayak. Be aware that there is a tide delay -- 1 to 1.5 hours after the Boston high tide.
Bisbee's Ferry/Union Street Bridge was also a packet landing -- one of many on the North River. Packet ship lines were established prior to 1670, and thrived until railroads came to the South Shore in the mid-to-late 1800s. Over time, White's Ferry, Little's Bridge, Union Bridge, Hobart's Landing, Foster's Landing, Job's Landing, Brick-Kiln Yard, and the North River Bridge in Hanover became regular stops. Farmers would meet the packet ship and barter their home-grown vegetables and dairy products for goods from China and Mediterranean, such as coffee, sugar and spices. In addition to home-grown goods, packet pilots also bought wood, fish, pot iron, and charcoal from locals, and sold them lumber and ship supplies.
Boat ramp on the Norwell side. No trails.
Historic Site: Yes
Boat Launch: Yes
Hours: Bridge is always open. Launch sites on both sides are open dawn to dusk.
Parking: Limited parking on Marshfield side. Limited on-site parking on the Norwell side with Norwell residents with green recycling sticker.
Cost: Free on Marshfield side. Free with sticker on Norwell side.
Trail Difficulty: No trails.
Boat Ramp: Yes
ADA Access: No
Scenic Views: Yes