Westfield River

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Coordinates: 42°05′03″N 72°35′08″W / 42.08417°N 72.58556°W / 42.08417; -72.58556
Westfield River
Agawam River (archaic)
Westfield River, Huntington MA.jpg
Westfield River in Huntington ("The Main Stem")
Country United States
State Massachusetts
Region Metropolitan Springfield
District Hampden County, Massachusetts
Municipality Westfield, Massachusetts
Tributaries
 - right Middle Branch,
West Branch,
East Branch,
Main Stem
Source North Branch Westfield River
 - elevation 1,734 ft (529 m)
 - coordinates 42°34′09″N 73°01′54″W / 42.56917°N 73.03167°W / 42.56917; -73.03167
Source confluence debouch of the Swift River
 - elevation 922 ft (281 m)
 - coordinates 42°26′39″N 72°51′31″W / 42.44417°N 72.85861°W / 42.44417; -72.85861
Mouth Connecticut River
 - elevation 39 ft (12 m)
 - coordinates 42°05′03″N 72°35′08″W / 42.08417°N 72.58556°W / 42.08417; -72.58556
Length 78.1 mi (126 km)
Basin 517 sq mi (1,339 km2)
The Westfield River and its major tributaries.
Website: http://www.westfieldriverwildscenic.org/map.html

The Westfield River is a major tributary of the Connecticut River located in Metropolitan Springfield, Massachusetts. With four major tributary branches that confluence in the City of Westfield, it flows 78.1 miles (125.7 km) before its confluence with the 410 miles (660 km) Connecticut River at Agawam, across from the City of Springfield's Metro Center district, and beside Six Flags New England.[1][2] Known for its whitewater rapids and scenic beauty, the Westfield River provides over 50 miles (80 km) of whitewater canoeing and kayaking, in addition to one of the largest roadless wilderness areas remaining in the Commonwealth.

The Westfield River is the Connecticut River's longest tributary in Massachusetts, although the Chicopee River's basin is much larger, and contributes more water to the Connecticut. The Connecticut's northern tributary, the Deerfield River, is nearly as long as the Westfield—only 2.1 miles (3.4 km) shorter than the Westfield.

During the mid-20th Century, the Westfield River was so polluted that it would change color based on the nature of the contaminant. Today, the river is clean enough for swimming.[3] It is a state and locally managed river featuring native trout fishing and rugged mountain scenery in the context of a historical mill town settlement, (at Westfield.)

History[edit]

On its initial discovery by Massachusetts Bay Colony explorers John Cable and John Woodcock in 1635, the area stretching from the Westfield River's confluence with the Connecticut River to Westfield itself—which, the next year, would all be encompassed in the settlement that came to be known as Springfield—was named The Agawam River, after the name of the Native American tribe then occupying the area. Historical literature often refers to the City of Springfield as sitting at the confluence of the Connecticut River with the western Agawam River and eastern Chicopee River. This Agawam River is now known as the Westfield River, and should not be confused with Agawam River in southeastern Massachusetts, which was named in tribute to Springfield's peaceful Natives.

The Westfield River's Four Branches[edit]

The Westfield River runs for a total of 78.1 miles (125.7 km). Rising in the Berkshire Hills region of the Commonwealth, it flows southeastwardly to join the Connecticut River at Agawam, Massachusetts—directly across from Springfield's Metro Center.[1]

The Westfield River has a 497 square miles (1,290 km2) drainage area consisting of several tributaries. From Huntington, they flow as the Main Branch through Russell into Westfield. These include the Main Stem from Huntington; the North Branch (sometimes called the East Branch), which has origins in the Berkshire Mountain hamlets of Savoy, Windsor, Cummington, Worthington, and Chesterfield; the Middle Branch, which has its origins in the Berkshire hamlet of Peru; and the West Branch, which has its origins in Washington and Becket.

Three of the four tributaries converge in Huntington: The East Branch, the West Branch (designated National Wild and Scenic), and the Middle Branch. From Huntington, they flow as the Main Branch through Russell into Westfield. Every April, the Westfield River in Huntington is the home of the Westfield River Whitewater Races, the Oldest Continuously Run Whitewater Race in America.

Portions of the river's watershed have been designated the Westfield Creek Wild and Scenic River, and form part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

External links[edit]

  1. ^ a b National Wild & Scenic Westfield River [Map & Segment Descriptions]. Westfieldriverwildscenic.org. Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
  2. ^ U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed April 1, 2011
  3. ^ http://www.westfieldriver.org/archive/taylorhistory2.html