History of the Saugus River

Native Americans called the river Aboutsett which means winding stream.

Native Americans called the beach which runs from Swampscott to Revere Saugus, which means long and extended.

Salmon were often speared from the river by the early Native Americans.

Rainbow Smelt

Settlers called it the river at Saugus, which was later shortened to Saugus River.

The first known commercial fishery in this area was constructed in 1632 on the River at Saugus. Great quantities of alewives and bass were harvested.


Small boats, which transported materials to and from the Iron Works, could navigate the river up to the Iron Works harbor and dock during high tide.

Since the Iron Works was established in the 1640's, the Saugus River has attracted industries such as grist mills, chocolate mills, wool and flannel mills and a tannery.


The original dam for Prankers Pond was built in 1642 to supply waterpower for the Iron Works. It was enlarged in 1846 by Edward Pranker to power his mills.

"The Saugus River is a vital resource which can provide many uses to the residents of the Saugus River watershed, including fishing, canoeing, swimming, or just getting back to nature. By becoming more aware of this valuable river and its history, we, as citizens, can help restore its beauty and its recreation opportunities."

Joe Vinard, President, Saugus Cooperative Bank



The Saugus River Watershed Council
P.O. Box 1092, Saugus Massachusetts 01906

This page, validated for HTML 2.0, wascreated on November 19, 1996 and revised on July 19, 2000.