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Turners Falls Fishway

Turners Falls Fishway is open during the spring migration. Underwater viewing windows offer visitors of all ages a chance to see migratory fish during their upriver journey to spawn.

Featured activities include:
Nature / Wildlife Viewing
Educational Programs
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Anadromous Fish of the Connecticut River

Each spring when the shadbush blooms, New Englanders have the opportunity to view an incredible natural phenomenon. American shad, sea lamprey and other anadromous (ah-nad-rah-mus) fish swim up the Connecticut River as they begin their annual spring migration. Anadromous fish are born in freshwater, mature in the ocean and return to freshwater to spawn. Driven by instinct, adult fish migrate to return to spawn in the rivers of their birth.

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The Ladders at Turners Falls

120 miles from the mouth of the Connecticut River, the Turners Falls ladders help migrating fish get past the Turners Falls dam. These stair-like ladders consist of a series of rising pools, each pool approximately one foot higher than the last. The fish climb these ladders by swimming from pool to pool. Completed in 1980, the Turners Falls ladders are a series of three ladders located along a 2.5-mile stretch of the river. The Turners Falls ladders are located at the Cabot Hydroelectric Station, the spillway (dam) and the gatehouse.

Visitor and Education Center

The Fishway is open during the spring migration from mid-May through mid-June, Wednesday through Sunday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Admission is free. The Fishway is staffed by knowledgeable and friendly guides who will share information about anadromous fish and restoration efforts. Underwater viewing windows offer visitors of all ages a chance to see migratory fish during their upriver journey to spawn. American shad and sea lamprey can often be seen swimming by the windows. A short walk along the scenic canal side bike path, offers views of the spillway fish ladder. The Visitor Center is adjacent to the Turners Falls Bike Path and our Unity Park picnic area on the shores of the Connecticut River.

Viewing windows open Wednesday through Sunday 9 a.m.-5 p.m., mid-May to mid-June

Free admission, no reservations required.

Directions: Traveling south or north on Rte. 91, take exit 27 for Rte. 2 east (Greenfield/ Boston). Turn right at the second light and go over the bridge. Turn left onto First Street. The fishway is on your left. Traveling west on Rte. 2, travel 9.5 miles beyond Erving Center and turn left at the first light. Go over the bridge and turn left onto First Street.

The fishway is on your left. Physical address: 15 First Street, Turners Falls, MA 01376; Mailing address: 99 Millers Falls Road, Northfield, MA 01360; Phone: 800-859-2960

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School Fishway Program: Fins and Ladders

Visit the Turners Falls Fishway for a watchable wildlife experience. This program focuses on migratory fish of the Connecticut River and the fish ladders that help them bypass the dam. A variety of activities will introduce anadromous fish and the challenges of their upstream journey. These fascinating fish are born in the river or its tributaries, migrate to the ocean and return as adults to spawn in the river of their birth. American shad and sea lamprey can often be seen swimming by the viewing windows. Pre- and post-visit curriculum materials are available.

For school program reservations, call 413-659-3714 or 800-859-2960.

Directions: Traveling south or north on Rte. 91, take exit 27 for Rte. 2 east (Greenfield/ Boston). Turn right at the second light and go over the bridge. Turn left onto First Street. The fishway is on your left. Traveling west on Rte. 2, travel 9.5 miles beyond Erving Center and turn left at the first light. Go over the bridge and turn left onto First Street.

The fishway is on your left. Physical address: 15 First Street, Turners Falls, MA 01376; Mailing address: 99 Millers Falls Road, Northfield, MA 01360; Phone: 800-859-2960

Activity Locations

See our map below for more location details