The Oxbow (Connecticut River)
Historically, the Oxbow was connected directly to the Connecticut river as a large U-Shaped bend. In 1840, flood waters cut through the narrow section, separating the Oxbow from the main river and the current. In the early 1900s, the Oxbow was used extensively for logging operations, as a holding area for logs sent down river. The northern end was later cut off to build Interstate 91, which runs between the Oxbow and the Connecticut River. The Connecticut River is still accessible by a channel made under the Route 91 and Route 5 bridges.
The Oxbow is habitat for many migratory and resident bird species. The Arcadia wildlife sanctuary (a project of Mass Audubon) protects a total of 776 acres (314 ha) of land which forms the outer shore of the Oxbow. Among these species include Bald Eagle, Snowy Egret, Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Osprey, Kingfisher, Swifts, gulls, Canadian Geese, and ducks.
The Oxbow is used today primarily for pleasure boating, and is home to one of the largest marinas on the Connecticut River in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation operates a state boat ramp facility accessible from Route 5 in Easthampton, Massachusetts. Because it is partially separated from the main river body, boats are protected from strong current and floating debris. Other uses include flat water paddling and fishing. The Oxbow also facilitates Northampton Youth and Community Rowing (also known as "Hamp Crew"), one of the larger scholastic and masters rowing clubs in western Massachusetts. The club offers competitive rowing programs for many schools in the area, including Northampton High School. The Oxbow water ski show team also shares facilities.