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Another Indian Name for the Charles River

When the Puritans came to Salem in 1629 some of them soon moved to Mishawum where lots of Indians, named Aberginians lived. The Puritans called this settlement Charlestown and the adjacent river was named the Charles River. The Aberginians had called it the Mishaum River.

The Quinoben tribe which also lived along the Charles River about 10 miles away in what in Waltham today called the river the Quinobequin which means crooked river. Other tribes along the river as in Nonantum or Natick had these names or their own name for this river.

Recently, John Maynard asked the Waltham Museum for the name of the Indian tribe which lived on the west side of Hardy Pond, which the Indians called "The great Pond In The Woods." No name could be found for this tribe.

According to Crossroads to the Charles, a history book on Watertown most Indian tribes like the Nonantums were subtribes of the Massachusetts Indians. The Pequossette Tribe of Watertown was another such subtribe.

The Massachusetts Tribe was closely related to the Wampanoags.

The Totem Pole II

Take a ride on Totem Pole II which is a boat that goes from the Moody Street Bridge to the Auburndale Boat House area. It's a wonderful trip and the round trip takes 1 1/2 hours. On Saturdays, Sundays and holidays the boat leaves Cronin's Landing and Ciro's Restaurant by the Moody Street Bridge at 12:00, 1:30, 3:00 and 4:30 PM. The price is $6.00 for adults; $5.00 for Seniors; and $4.00 for children. The boat is also available for charter. Call 781-894-8604.

A Short History of Boat Service on the Charles River

Boat service on the Charles River goes way back. Cronin's Landing was once the site of Maple Grove Harbor before it was filled-in. In 1859, two years before the Civil War, Colonel John A. Mason operated this harbor and conducted passenger boat tour parties to Lily Point or Harrington's Grove, a favorite place for picnics at that time. This is the area of Riverside and Edgewater Drives today. In the August 5, 1859 issue of the Waltham Sentinal, is the story of the "Wild Rover," a two-horsepower steamboat carrying 25 men and 6 women on the Lily Point cruise.

With the death of Colonel Mason in 1873 came the announcement that Gibbs & Illingsworth had begun to operate the "White Swan" a side-wheel steamer, between Steamboat Wharf at the Moody Street Bridge to Auburndale. Earlier the White Swan was operating as a pleasure boat on Fresh Pond in Cambridge.

The White Swan

When the White Swan came to Waltham, it had a larger steam engine installed by George F. Shedd and an upper deck installed. The White Swan was 53 feet long and carried over 100 passengers.

Colonel Gibbs, who had founded the Gibbs Express Company off of Newton Street in 1846, was captain, and Eben M. Illingsworth was the engineer. Departures were announced for 2:30, 4:30, and 7:00 PM with brief stops at Lily Point where picnics and social events were held.

The old Prospect Street footbridge was erected in 1977. It had a drawbridge section which allowed the White Swan to go through, but in 1889 when the Prospect Street bridge was built, the White Swan could not get under the bridge and ceased to operate. It was beached at Auburndale where she slowly decayed over the year. Her engine was removed earlier and used in a nearby refrigeration plant.

More on Charles River Boats

In 1879 Harvey Bartlett bought Gibbs' interest in the White Swan. So Bartlett and Illingsworth operated the boat until 1889 when the Prospect Street bridge was built. Also, it is reported that, when the White Swan was over capacity with 150 passengers, it became top heavy and that was always a worry to its operators. If you remember an upper deck was added to the boat when it came to Waltham.

In 1890, Potter & Carr operated the Elcho passenger boat. Later in 1898 the Active and the Adelle were two other boats operating on the Charles River. Finally in 1900 we heard about the Marjorie passenger boat operated by C. P. Nuttings from the old Moody Street bridge.

When the White Swan ceased to operate in 1889, Harvey Bartlett acquired a boat known as the Forrester and operated it from Maple Grove to the new Forest Grove swimming area that he also owned. During the 20th century people's interest shifted to bicycles, cars and canoes. The day of the passenger boats were over. Over for ninety years until Captain John Connor started the Totem Pole II six years ago.

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