What I quickly realized -- the Charles was different from many other rivers. Unlike the Blackstone, which flows between glacially sculpted ridges with ample opportunities for dams and mills -- the Charles meanders through the flatlands of Eastern Mass. During flood stage, it flows "everywhere" -- meaning -- you can't dam it and you can't build along it. So, you have farms rather than mills like Lowell or Woonsocket. There are vast stretches that effectively are mile wide marsh. The river was a seasonally annoying thing that might flood your back pasture, not something that built your economy. The Charles was an industrial river for cities like Waltham, (home of the Charles River Museum of Industry, located in the Francis Cabot Lowell Mill, the first modern factory in America) but not where we rode today.
Which meant -- today's ride was overwhelmingly through rural countryside. We saw nesting swans. We flushed a great blue heron on Causeway Street in Medfield. And -- we saw lots of fellow cyclists out on the road, particularly on the short but sweet Upper Charles River Bike Path in Milford. Always fun to learn something about a resource I've taken for granted.