Sitting high upon a hill above the Taunton River as it empties into Mount Hope Bay is the old City of Fall River, Massachusetts. Far inland from open ocean, and close to neighboring Rhode Island, this border city bastion of Bristol County holds among its attractions the country’s largest collection of naval ships on display in a museum: Battleship Cove. This nautical and historical treasure is worth a visit, as is the old town surrounding it.
The battleship USS Massachusetts, at Fall River’s Battleship Cove, below:
The ship sits docked alongside the museum and several other ships, underneath the massive Braga Memorial bridge. The bridge above spans the Taunton River and connects Fall River to neighboring Somerset via route 195.
My visit to the city of Fall River was an off season trip, and was done by car, not by boat. While a great, boating friendly location, Fall River is far from Boston: Getting here on the water from Boston requires making the trip down through the Cape Cod Canal, navigating through Buzzards bay to its end at Sakonnet Point in Little Compton, Rhode Island, and then turning back up North to Mount Hope Bay.
Fall River: Views of the City
Pictured below is the town hall, high on the hill above the down town area. Here one can find architecture of the city’s golden age, the industrial revolution era when this city dominated the global textile manufacturing industry.
The Borden Flats Lighthouse, keeping ship traffic passing between the Taunton River and Mount Hope Bay away from the dangerous flats on the Eastern Bank:
A nautical chart clip of the Fall River area and its waterfront, highlighting the Taunton river, The Borden Flats and Mount Hope Bay. Also highlighted is the location of Battleship Cove and the large Braga Bridge.
Source: NOAA Nautical Chart. See NOAA.gov for disclaimer.
Battleship cove is home to the world’s largest collection of battleships on display. Here is a photo taken from the main deck of the USS Massachusetts. Her 16-inch guns are quite impressive:
The cove has many naval ships on display, including a destroyer and a cruiser. The display even includes a nuclear submarine. However, most of the other ships in the exhibit are obscurded by the massive battleship USS Massachusetts.
Modern Fall River:
Today, the city of Fall River is adequately modern, but greatly connected to its past. This is evidenced not only by the strong connection to the waterways that were once the lifeblood of the city, but also the industrial landscape: Fall River is scattered with the remains of shuttered factories. Pictured below is the Border City mill, which is located off Route 79 on the North side of the city. This facility was built in the 1870s, and was later abandoned as the domestic industry crumbled under the pressure of low costs imports. Some of the area of these mills has been converted into office space and condos.
Viewed from under the Braga bridge is the Brayton Point power plant. This is a large fossil fuel based plant located across the bay from Fall River in the neighboring town of Somerset, MA:
There is something special about the architecture in Fall River and its link to the past. It provides a glimpse of how life around these waterways has evolved over the centuries: From the manufacturing might seen in a smokestack, to the transportation infrastructure of a great green highway overpass, to the passing of everyday human life as seen in the old historic church upon the hill. This is Fall River.