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Red Bridge Pool (aka Chicopee River Reservoir) 

Last Updated: 4/2016
 Fishing
      A large population of yellow and white perch overpopulates this impoundment. These species in the 6 - 10 inch range comprised over 57% of the sample by weight. White suckers accounted for 27% of the sample by weight, with game fish constituting less than three percent. Except for pan-fishing, fishing here would generally be poor. In an attempt to bring the panfish population into balance and provide some sport fishing opportunity, tiger muskies were stocked here in 1981, 1986 and 1991. Northern pike were stocked in 1987. While several large pike have been reported caught, tiger muskie returns have remained low. Anglers should be aware that there is a good possibility of hooking a trophy here. (1993)
 
Description
      This is a 106-acre impoundment on the Chicopee River in Ludlow with access located near the dam off Poole Street. There are approximately two miles of wooded shoreline. The bottom is muck and gravel, and emergent aquatic vegetation is sparse.  The deepest area near the dam may have a limited amount of trout water, but for all practical purposes this is warm water habitat. The area of the Chicopee River located below the powerhouse is within walking distance of Red Bridge, and provides additional parking spaces and fishing opportunities.  Remember, that this pool in the Chicopee River is fed by the Swift, Ware, and Quaboag Rivers.
      After launching, follow the south shore east.  First pass a home and then there will be only woods along the shoreline for the next 2 miles.  If there are few motorized boats, you feel like you are in a remote area of Massachusetts. 
      The shoreline goes southward at about mile 1.5 and just before mile 2.0 a set of stone ruins on the south shore and a high wall of the same stone on the north shore.  This is the original site of the Otis Company Dam.  There were no other buildings there. The Otis Company was a large cotton canvas company located in Three Rivers at the confluence of the Ware & Quaboag Rivers.  In the late 1800's, a series of canals were built at the confluence to provide direct waterpower for their weaving machinery.  When electric motors became available in the early 1900's, an electric generating power dam was proposed.  Construction commenced.  At the same, downstream Ludlow Mills was constructing the Red Bridge dam for their electric needs.  However, water elevations from the Ludlow dam would have flooded the Otis Co. turbine gates.  A lawsuit entailed, but Otis Co. lost its claim and had to abandon their partially built dam.  What remains are the four turbine chambers of this power plant on the south side of the Chicopee River.  The dam itself was never completed, however the headwall on the north side of the river was partially erected and still is visible.  A paddler can almost enter the turbine rooms.  It’s an interesting place for a break or a picnic.
      Now paddle up river another third of a mile to the next ruins.  This is the relocated dam site of the abandon site failure.  This dam, its four-turbine chambers and brick power plant (similar to the Red Bridge plant) provided electric power up until the late 1930's when the Otis Co. went bankrupt.  Massachusetts Electric Co. assumed operation of this plant until 1965 when the Army Corps of Engineers removed the dam and power plant and widened the riverbed for flood control purposes.  All that remains is the old foundation of this power plant.  It’s worth a visit.  The richness of Massachusetts history leave these legacy sites.
     Continue up river until the current gets difficult and you can just see a stretch of class 2 rapids near the old mill building turning back at about mile 2.5. (Information on Mills provided by John Sasur Jr., Water Supt., Three Rivers Fire District)
      Head downstream along the north shoreline. Views of woods and steep hillside are visible all the way to mile 4.5.  Carefully look through the woods now and you will see a pond on the other side of an old rail bed. This was the Athol Branch of the B&A Railroad (locally known as the "Rabbit" as it made so many stops).   This line serviced Enfield, Prescott, Dana and a number of other villages that were abandoned to give way to the Quabbin Reservoir.
       At about mile 5.1 there is a footbridge that allows passage under for small motorboats and paddlers.  This is another good place to stop and take a walk to stretch your back and shakeout your legs.
      This north pond is a beautiful surrounded by woods and wetlands.  In the northeast end is a stone culvert under Poole Street where a stream enters.  At the southeast end there are seven private homes that have shore side property.  Exit back into the main water through the same place you entered. 
        Follow the north shore toward the dam.  There is a protective barrier, as all dams are required have.  Follow along the barrier and back to the boat ramp to finish your paddle.
STATISTICS
Skill Level:            Class 1 - Flat water
Estimated Time:    2 hours
Total Distance       6.5 miles
USGS Map: Ludlow, MA (7.5’x15’)
Launch Address:  
2 Red Bridge Road, Wilbraham, MA 01095
Position: 42-10.63 N 72-24.46 W
Boat Launch: All type boat at paved boat ramp.
 
Physical Features:
  • Area:                106 acres
  • Max depth:        Deepest near the Dam.
  • Average Depth:   feet
  • Transparency:    3 feet
  • Terrain Type: Wooded, Park, Homes, River
Fish Population
  • Last survey 1981
  • 12 Species: yellow perch, white perch, pumpkinseed, white sucker, bluegill, golden shiner, fallfish, largemouth bass, yellow bullhead, chain pickerel, black crappie and brown bullhead     
 
Put In and Take Out: 4.3 miles, 9 min.
  • From US Route 90 (Mass. Turnpike) take Exit 7:
  • After the tollbooths, turn right on Route 21 North
  • At mile 0.5, turn right at stoplight onto Chapin Street.
  • At mile 1.6, turn left on East Street.
  • At mile 4.1, the road becomes Red Bridge Road just before pass over the Chicopee River below the Red Bridge Dam.
  • At mile 4.3, turn left into the boat launch area.
  •  
Boat Launch
         A steep, paved launch ramp suitable for trailers and including a parking area for approximately 10 cars is provided.   Car top boats are easiest launch by placing your boat off to the dam side of the launch where the bottom gets deep gradually.
 
    
State Pond Map
Plenty of Parking
Paved State Boat Ramp Next to Dam