The picturesque North River with its wide stretches of salt marsh painting the surrounding landscape in seasonal colors, continues to play an integral part in the lives of the 9500 people who call Norwell "home." From the late 1700s through the early years of the 1800s, the North River was one of the most famous places in the world. Shipbuilding flourished on a grand scale along its banks, and master craftsmen in Norwell (then called South Scituate) produced some of the finest frigates, schooners and merchant vessels ever to sail the seven seas.
In addition to the shipbuilding industry, early settlers established fisheries along the river and harvested valuable marsh grass from large flat-bottomed boats called "gundalows." When these old industries waned, enterprising Norwell residents started new industries - poultry farming, shoe and tack manufacture, wooden airplane making and general farming. The heritage of the town's early settlers is still visible in the rustic character of its narrow lanes and in the unhurried pace of today's modern settlers.
Although ships are no longer built along the North River, it is still an important scenic site where artists find inspiration in its changing moods and colors, and where wildlife is safe from the intrusion of man. The river is one of only 20 in the United State protected under the Scenic Waterways Act. A major archeological study is underway to collect ancient artifacts that will enable historians to form a picture of life along the river many centuries before the white man discovered it. The Albert Norris State Park, Wompatuck State Park and town-owned conservation land provide hundreds of acres for outdoor activities year round. The South Shore Natural Science Center is nestled among 21 acres of woodlands, bog and meadow, and offers a wide range of programs including nature walks, pond studies, lectures on birds and native wildlife. The popular center also features in-school programs, workshops for teachers, vacation activities for children and maintains a comprehensive natural science research library.
Norwell boasts two public libraries with more than 40,000 books, recordings, periodicals and historical collections. The town's school children are recognized for their outstanding academic achievements and involvement in extracurricular activities. A new high school set on a 96-acre site reflects the community's commitment to high educational standards. Norwell children may also attend nearby South Shore Vocational Technical School in Hanover. Located just 20 miles from Boston, Norwell is connected to the city via Route 3. Housing styles reflect a blend of new homes, traditional colonials and custom contemporary designs.