North of downtown, the river ceases to be an easily-navigable route. As far back as the 18th century, a means to circumvent the various shallows and rapids has been sought.
In March of 1792, a lottery was announced to provided funds needed for "cutting a Channel thro' the Falls in Connecticut River, between the towns of Enfield and Suffield, and clearing the Sand Bars, fo as to make the river navigable between said falls and the city of Hartford." In 1824, The Connecticut River Company was chartered to improve boat navigation of the river by widening and deepening the channel. Part of the plan was to create locks at the Enfield Falls (later known as Enfield Rapids) to allow steamboats to move past that point onward towards Springfield. On November 17, 1826, the steam boat "Barnet" began her maiden voyage up-river. She was the first steam boat to navigate the river above Hartford and travelled with the fanfare of musketry salutes and cheers from crowds lining both sides of the river.
Today, the river north of the city is no longer used for commercial trade. However, it is used by small pleasure craft and for fishing. Access to the river is limited, however. The boat launch at Riverside Park is the only point on the western bank north of the city where watercraft may be put in. It is here that a boathouse has been constructed and is home to the community rowing program and many seasonal events.
Although dikes were built in the 1940s to combat the river's occasional flooding, it is not uncommon to see the Riverside Park sports fields, boat launch and even boathouse itself under water.
Additionally, municipal and privately-owned property, as well as the volume of the CRRA landfill north of the city, limits pedestrian access to the banks of the river. The stretch of river remains in a natural state, providing for wildlife habitat and scenic landscape, which certainly makes for pleasant rowing conditions.
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