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A Section of the Charles River You Probably Didn't Know Existed

by Eric Hurwitz. Article created Jan. 25, 2017. All photos by Eric unless otherwise noted.

Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts are not the only ballgames in town when it comes to the Charles River. About 20 miles west of Boston is a completely different version of the Charles River at South Natick Dam Park in South Natick where the peace, quiet and grace of a semi-rural, historic area takes on the look of traditional small town New England. It's truly a great, off-the-beaten path discovery!

Charles River at South Natick Massachusetts

The Park, established in 1903, is located at the site of a former gristmill where you can still see embedded millstones in the paved area. According to the Natick government web site (,"The island in the middle of the river is named for Horace Holyoke, one of the characters from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Old Town Folks;” the character is based on her husband, South Natick native Calvin Stowe."

The real prize in this area, however, is the adjacent Charles River dam with its scenic waterfall. What an ideal spot to sit on a bench, hear the roar of the waterfall, and marvel at the beauty of the Charles River. Within walking distance are big historic Colonial homes, the Bacon Free Public Library dating back to 1880 ( I always liked that name; sounds like no bacon is allowed on the premises!), and the aptly named Charles River Coffeehouse at 57 Eliot St. that serves great coffee, baked goods, sandwiches and salads.

While the Charles River will always be associated with Boston and Cambridge, this South Natick location offers a completely different experience surely worth visiting. The Charles River Dam Park is especially beautiful in the spring and summer when vibrant flowers frame the body of water, as well as in the fall where foliage brings even more color. South Natick Dam Park is located at 9 Pleasant St in South Natick and is open from dawn to dusk at no charge.

Charles River at South Natick MA

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