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Explore Westport History From The Saugatuck River

WESTPORT, Conn. – You can unlock some of Westport’s past while paddling down the Saugatuck River in a kayak. The Westport Historical Society , together with Downunder Kayaking, is offering residents a chance to learn about the river’s history during a sunset kayaking tour Friday.

Guide Rindy Higgins, director of the Sherwood Island Nature Center, will lead the excursion along the west side of the river, where she’ll point out places of interest and share interesting tidbits.

“It will be balanced both for people who just enjoy kayaking and people who really want to learn some history,” said Higgins, a Westport resident and former 21-year marine science educator at the Maritime Aquarium.

The historical adventure begins at Downunder , Higgins said. From there, she’ll share the “real history” behind the Black Duck Café, show kayakers the former site of a manufacturing company that drove the British “nuts” back in 1912 and point out spots where 3,000-year-old artifacts have been found.

The tour will also take kayakers to the Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club, which Higgins said was once a freshwater pond. If time permits, the tour will continue to the east side of the river, where participants can learn about Longshore’s shoreline, discuss the history of various river crossings and see the spot where, at low tide, the skeleton of an 1800s market boat can be seen.

Higgins, who also serves on the Shellfish Commission and is the Westport representative on the Long Island Sound Assembly, will also share information about the health of the Saugatuck River.

Sue Gold, executive director of the Westport Historical Society, said this tour ties in with the historical society’s newest exhibit, which Higgins is curating. The exhibit, “The Sound & The Saugatuck: Watershed Moments,” runs through Sept. 1.

The hour-and-a-half kayak tour will depart at 6 p.m. from Downunder, 575 Riverside Ave. Participants are asked to arrive by 5:30 p.m. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 203-956-6217.

The cost of the tour is $25 for people who bring their own kayak, $35 to rent a single kayak and $50 to rent a double. People of all skill levels are welcome.

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