Tree Becomes Dislodged Upriver, Takes Out Downtown Haverhill Dock Gangways, Impacts Tourism

At left, downtown Haverhill docks are inaccessible after a floating tree rips out a gangway. On right, an image of the large tree up against the gangway of the other dock. (Courtesy photographs.)

Two downtown Haverhill docks on the Merrimack River—affecting both public boaters and tourism craft—are inaccessible after Mother Nature struck this week.

Haverhill Fire Chief Robert M. O’Brien, who oversees the harbormaster’s operation, said he became aware Wednesday morning that an upriver tree had been dislodged.

“Problem is, with the heavy rain, the level of water has risen so high that it’s cleaning off the banks, and this tree came down and took out the docks—both docks,” O’Brien explained.

The chief added, “The public dock gangway—it’s completely gone. It’s in the river. We have to find it. The tree continued down and hit the second set of docks where the tour boat and the kayaks operate off. That gangway is twisted and broken. It’s still attached with one bolt. But the tree is a large tree and it’s still wedged there.”

The large tree in the river not only upsets the tour boats, but poses a danger during any river rescue that may become necessary.

Fixing the problem requires a diver to help re-set the blocks that hold the docks. “It’s a very dangerous operation with the tree still in the river.” He said the water must settle a bit before crews can go in.

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