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RIVER CROSSINGS by John Quist
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River  Crossings       In the early colonial era in New England, and across the country, river crossings were the hubs of business and commerce. Where there is commerce there are coins and artifacts.
  The rivers (and canals) were the lifeblood of transportation in early colonial America. If you look at a map of any state the major cities
and towns were founded as close to moving bodies of water as possible.   
  Rivers provided drinking and irrigation, power for mills, and a means of transporting people and commerce. In New England, two rivers were dominant in economic terms, the Connecticut and the Merrimack.
The Connecticut River runs from the Fourth Connecticut Lake in northern New Hampshire, bisects New Hampshire and Vermont before entering Massachusetts and Connecticut and finally emptying into Long Island Sound. All along the  Connecticut are major cities, a state capitol, farms, mill towns, and various tributaries that bring goods from the surrounding areas. We are told that the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth in 1620, just three short years later, the Dutch moseyed up
to present day Hartford and only 15 years puritan William Pynchon formed one of the early successful colonies in the Springfield-Holyoke area. Up and down river, the great early industrial towns of Bellows Falls, White River Junction, New Haven and New Britain dotted the river with wealth and commerce. The Merrimack River begins at the headwaters of the Pemigewasset and is fed by the Squam and Winnipesaukee, and also fed by the lower feeder rivers: Contoocook, Souhegan, Nashua, and Concord. This artery of commerce transported various goods from the heart of New Hampshire to Newburyport, Massachusetts. The great New England mill towns of Nashua and Manchester are legend in the early industrial age for their cloth, wool, furniture, and various commodities. The masts of the schooners that crossed the Atlantic were hewn from the enormous eastern white pine, felled and transported to the ocean on the vein of commerce known as the Merrimack.
   What’s the metal detecting point in all this history? Think about it...Before there were bridges there were ferry crossings near the slow moving parts of these great rivers. At these crossings, goods and people were transported, money was exchanged and dropped. The logging camps where the workers stopped to rest and camp have great
possibilities of having artifacts and the coinage of the times. The early bridges were few and far between. Those that built them often charged a toll for the privilege of crossing. On either side of the river where these old bridges once were, camps were pitched, taverns and inns were built, and dances were held. The islands and sand bars were places where people relaxed and played. One of my best finds was an 1860 Seated Liberty Quarter that I found on an island in the middle of the Che mung River in Corning, NY. From researching places to hunt, I found a single sentence in a history book of the area that told of dances and parties that were held on a nondescript island that was a virtual sand bar. That sand bar was still there. When the water was low in the summer, I waded out there and voila! It wasn’t in great shape but it brought a good price during the silver boom of the 80’s
both for its silver and intrinsic value.
Often, many of these crossings and areas are covered with feet of cement but if you look deeper into the history of the area you are
researching you will find and old abandoned crossing that has been unused for 100’s of years. In your home turf there is just that
place, waiting for you to swing that electronic marvel over it and have something to brag about.    By John Quist,
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