You’ve seen it at the movies. They are always trying to kill James Bond and Indiana Jones. Why? To keep them from finding out some great secret.
Well, thankfully, I don’t have that kind of problem. Mine is more of the misdemeanor type, trespassing! Instead of my life cut short, I end up with threats of fines and having dogs sic’ on me or coming face to face with a bull or a bull terrier!
Instead of a desire to keep a secret hidden, it’s just a bunch of irate citizens with wild, fevered imaginations. (I swear it gets worse as you get closer to the Interstate!)
Well, this adventure was to locate and photograph the headwaters of the Little River. Yes, that one! The bringer of floods and property damage and all types of havoc on the Common Pasture with businesses and homes suffering millions of dollars. It also is a key contributor to the Parker River Watershed and a crucial contributor to the health of the Great Marsh and such a vast area as the Gulf of Maine!
I was seeking the humble birthplace.
Directly behind the Newburyport Veterinary Hospital and the Kingdom Hall is a roughly rounded basin of trees. Inside this area is a pond and just south of this pond is a marshy area where the Little River begins to flow. Well I found the pond.
It actually flows under the streets until it gets close to the homes up against Route 95.
I was doing just fine until I tried to find out how the stream began to flow. I found two drains. One on the north that was moist but no water on the surface and a second one on the south with barely a trickle. Well, all that trampling around brought out the neighbors. They were hopping mad and it wasn’t even me they were mad at. Apparently, they were all mad at some conservation officer. They mentioned the name but I have no idea whom they were referencing. I checked with Mary Reilly, the conservation administrator at City Hall and she knew nothing of some over-reaching person or even an issue in the area.
A very nice neighbor told me that the conduits were becoming blocked, causing the basin to overflow during flood times and causing erosion on several homeowners’ properties. Sure enough, there is a grate in front of one of the conduits that certainly would make it easier to be choked shut.
As large as this basin is, I was surprised at how small the openings were. I further checked near Route 95 to find out how large the conduits get to pass the water over to the east side. One is rather small, obviously designed to take in overflow – but the main stream even in this dry season is pretty steady. Thankfully, the opening is pretty adequate.
There is a third conduit down near Hale Street but its a small tributary that eventually flows into the Little River. Presently, a beaver has blocked it on the Little River Nature Trail side.
Well, I was pleased to be able to see the ‘the Beast’ in its humble beginnings. Strangely enough, the water originating near Storey Avenue and flowing past the Landfill is often called the Little River also and eventually crosses Hale Street and joins with the Little River proper on Myette’s farm.
This one REALLY gets swollen, causing havoc. And that Little River has an uncertain origin.
Stay tuned for that adventure.