Michael Travis

Piscataqua River

The Piscataqua River, in the northeastern United States, is a 12 mile (19 km) longtidal estuary formed by the confluence of the Salmon Falls and Cochecho rivers. The drainage basin of the river is approximately 1,495 square miles. The river runs southeastward, determining part of the boundary between the states of New Hampshire and Maine, and empties into the Atlantic Ocean east of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The last six miles before the sea form one of the finest harbors in the northeastern United States, despite a tidal current rated as one of the fastest in North America (at Nobles Island across from downtown Portsmouth).[1]

Named by the area's original Abenaki inhabitants, "Piscataqua" combines "peske" (branch) with "tegwe" (a river with a strong current, possibly tidal). "Peske-tegwe", then, describes a place where a river separates into two or three parts, or literally, "a place where boats or canoes ascending the river together from its mouth were compelled to separate according to their several destinations" -- for example, at Dover Point.

The first known European to explore the river was Martin Pring in 1603. CaptainJohn Smith placed a spelling similar to "Piscataqua" for the region on his map of1614. The river was site of the first sawmill in the colonies in 1623, the same year the contemporary spelling "Piscataqua" was first recorded.

The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is located on Seavey's Island in Kittery, Mainenear the Piscataqua's mouth. The dispute between New Hampshire and Maine over ownership of Seavey’s Island was settled by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2001, locating the state border at the center of the river's navigable channel



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