Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Stone Rows of South Watuppa Pond, West Shore
South Watuppa Pond lies south of Fall River, MA, and is divided from North Watuppa Pond by the narrows and I-195. It is drained by the Quequechan river, which flows through Fall River and empties into the Taunton River at Battleship Cove. An 1812 map shows the Quequechan flowing in a nearly straight line to the Troy dam which was near present-day City Hall. In 1826, the Troy dam was raised two feet to provide reliable water power to the Fall River mills. The Quequechan flooded many properties, creating ponds and islands. South Watuppa Pond also rose, covering walls and a causeway.
In March 2010, heavy rains caused South Watuppa Pond to flood lakeside properties. The water even crossed Martine Street and Brayton Avenue extension in Fall River. The Fall River Water Department lowered the Quequechan river floodgate, and left the gate down all summer. The pond fell to a level not seen for years, and walls and structures that were once known only as boating hazards were seen in detail.
Most of the South Watuppa shoreline is covered with houses. However, interesting stone rows remain at marshes and other undeveloped areas. Here are photographs from my visits to these areas by kayak in 2010 and 2011. Some of these photographs appeared on Larry Harrop's blog two years ago.
The boulders appear to have been carefully placed in this stone row, and not just pushed aside. There are few boulders inside the enclosure, suggesting that the stone row was created by land clearing. I used to think this was an old wharf foundation, but wharves have level tops, and when the pond was two feet lower, this structure would have been out of the water.
The second wall is mostly submerged, and begins at a large puddingstone directly south of the stone row.
The shoreline to the north of this site is marshland, and has a few low, curving stone rows.
The west shore site may have been an Indian summer campsite used by Pocasset Wampanoags. The boulders in the stone rows would have been placed there when the site was cleared. The water at the end of the submerged wall is about 3 feet deep, so this wall may served to keep back pond water after heavy rains. The low curving stone rows could have surrounded gardens.
Here is how this site may have looked in summer. The wigwams are facing east. Corn is growing in the garden to the right.