Connecticut River: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Connecticut River
looking north from the French King Bridge at the Erving-Gill town line in western Massachusetts
Country United States
States Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire
 - left Chicopee
 - right White River
Cities Hartford, CT, Springfield, MA
Source Fourth Connecticut Lake
 - elevation 2,660 ft (811 m)
 - coordinates 45°14′53″N 71°12′51″W / 45.24806°N 71.21417°W / 45.24806; -71.21417
Mouth Long Island Sound
 - location Old Saybrook, Connecticut[1]
 - coordinates 41°16′20″N 72°20′03″W / 41.27222°N 72.33417°W / 41.27222; -72.33417
Length 407 mi (655 km)
Basin 11,250 sq mi (29,137 km2)
Discharge for Thompsonville, CT
 - average 18,400 cu ft/s (521 m3/s)
 - max 95,400 cu ft/s (2,701 m3/s)
 - min 3,160 cu ft/s (89 m3/s)
Discharge elsewhere (average)
 - West Lebanon, NH 6,600 cu ft/s (187 m3/s)
River map, with major tributaries and selected dams.

The Connecticut River is the largest river in New England, flowing south from the Connecticut Lakes in northern New Hampshire, along the border between New Hampshire and Vermont, through western Massachusetts and central Connecticut discharging into the Long Island Sound at Old Saybrook, Connecticut. It has a total length of 407 miles (655 km), and a drainage basin extending over 11,250 square miles (29,100 km2). The mean freshwater discharge into Long Island Sound is 19,600 cubic feet (560 m3) per second.

The river is tidal up to Windsor Locks, Connecticut, approximately 60 miles (97 km) from the mouth. The source of the river is the Fourth Connecticut Lake in New Hampshire. Some tributaries include the Ashuelot, West, Miller's, Deerfield, White, and Chicopee rivers. The Swift River, a tributary of the Chicopee, has been dammed and largely replaced by the Quabbin Reservoir which provides water to Boston.

The river carries a heavy amount of silt, especially during the spring snow melt, from as far north as Quebec. The heavy silt concentration of the river forms a large sandbar near its mouth on Long Island Sound and has historically provided a formidable obstacle to navigation. The difficulty of navigation on the river is the primary reason that it is one of the few large rivers in the region without a major city near its mouth. The Connecticut River estuary and tidal wetlands complex is listed as one of the 1,759 wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.



The Oxbow, Connecticut River near Northampton, 1836, by Thomas Cole
Willow Island in Portland, Connecticut, 1910 postcard

The river's name is the French corruption of the Algonquian word "quinetucket" and means long tidal river. The first European to see the river was the Dutch explorer Adriaen Block in 1614. As a result of this exploration, the Dutch named the Connecticut River the "Fresh River", and it was the northeastern limits of the New Netherland colony, and the original border between New Netherland and New England. The first English colonist to record his visit was Edward Winslow from the Plymouth Colony in 1632. In 1633 the English built a trading post on the site of Windsor, Connecticut, and the Dutch built one with a fort at the site of Hartford, Connecticut. As the number of English colonists increased, the Dutch abandoned their enterprise in 1654. The Fort at Number 4, now Charlestown, New Hampshire, was the northernmost English settlement on the river until the end of the French and Indian War in 1763. In the Treaty of Paris (1783), ending the American Revolutionary War, the new border between New Hampshire and what was to become the Province of Canada was defined to include the "northwesternmost headwaters of the Connecticut" . Because there are several streams that could fit that description, a boundary dispute led to the short-lived Indian Stream Republic, which existed from 1832 to 1835.

At first the broad, fertile valley attracted agricultural colonies, but the volume and fall of the river contributed to the rise of manufacturing in the valley. The greatest single drop of 58 feet (18 m) is at Holyoke, Massachusetts. Other important centers include Windsor and Hartford in Connecticut, Springfield, Massachusetts, the largest city on the river, Lebanon, New Hampshire, and Brattleboro, Vermont.

In 1829 the Enfield Falls Canal was opened to circumvent shallows on the Connecticut River. The locks built for this canal gave their name to the town of Windsor Locks, Connecticut.[2]

In the late 1800s the river was used for massive logging drives from the far north, particularly the Nullhegan River basin in Essex County, Vermont. These spring drives were stopped after 1915, when pleasure boat owners complained about the hazards to navigation.[3]


Flood of 1936

In March 1936, due to a winter with heavy snowfall, an early spring thaw and torrential rains, the Connecticut River flooded, overflowing its banks, destroying numerous bridges and isolating hundreds of people who had to be rescued by boat. The dam at Vernon, Vermont was topped by 19 feet. Sandbagging by the National Guard and local volunteers helped prevent the dam's powerhouse from being overwhelmed, despite blocks of ice breaking through the upstream walls.

In Northampton, Massachusetts looting during the flooding became a problem, causing the mayor of the city to deputize citizen patrols to protect flooded areas. Over 3000 refugees from the area were housed in Amherst College and the Massachusetts State Agricultural College (now UMass Amherst).

Unprecedented accumulated ice jams compounded the problems created by the flood, diverting water into unusual channels and damming the river, raising water levels even further. When the jam at Hadley, Massachusetts gave way, the water crest overflowed the dam at Holyoke overwhelming the sandbagging there. The town of South Hadley Falls was essentially destroyed, and the southern parts of Holyoke were severely damaged, with 500 refugees.

In Springfield, Massachusetts, 5 sq mi (13 km2), and 18 miles (29 km) of streets, were flooded, and 20,000 people lost their homes. The city lost power, and nighttime looting caused the police to issue a "shoot on sight" edict; 800 National Guard troops were brought in to help maintain order. Rescue efforts using a flotilla of boats saved people trapped in upper stories of building, bringing them to local fraternal lodges, schools, churches and monasteries for lodging, medical care and food. The American Red Cross and local, state and Federal agencies, including the WPA and the CCC, contributed aid and manpower to the effort. Flooding of roads isolated the city for a time. When the water receded, it left behind silt-caused mud which in places was 3 feet (0.91 m) thick; the recovery effort in Springfield took several weeks.

Overall, the flood caused 171 deaths and $500 million in damages, in 1936 dollars. Over 430,000 people were made homeless or destitute by the flood, which hit at the height of the Great Depression.[4]

The Connecticut River Flood Control Compact between the states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont was established in 1953 to help prevent serious flooding.[5]

Pollution and cleanup

The Water Quality Act of 1965 has had a major impact on controlling water pollution in the Connecticut River and its tributaries. Since then, the river has been restored from Class D to Class B (fishable and swimable). It was designated as one of the American Heritage Rivers in 1997. The towns along the lower end of the river have enacted a cap on further development along the banks, so that no buildings may be constructed except on existing foundations.

There is now a website which provides water quality reports twice a week, indicating whether various portions of the river are safe for swimming, boating and fishing.[6][7]



The mouth of the river up to Essex is thought to be the busiest stretch of waterway in Connecticut. Some local police departments and the state Environmental Conservation Police patrol the area a few times a week. Some towns keep boats available if needed.[8]


Drift boat fishing guide working the river near Colebrook, NH

The Connecticut River is a habitat to several species of anadromous fish, including the American shad, American eel, striped bass and the sea lamprey. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service is undertaking an effort to repopulate the river with another species of migratory fish, the Atlantic salmon. For more than 200 years, Atlantic salmon have been extinct from the river due to damming. Several fish ladders and fish elevators have been built to allow fish to resume their natural migration upriver each spring.

The headwaters of the Connecticut River are at the northern tip of New Hampshire, near the Canadian border. Much of the beginning of the river's course in the town of Pittsburg is occupied by the Connecticut Lakes, a chain of deep, cold water lakes that are home to lake trout and landlocked salmon.

The river itself holds native brook trout, rainbow trout, large brown trout, shad, smallmouth bass, striped bass, carp, catfish, American eel, and several other species of game fish. Landlocked salmon make their way into the river during spring spawning runs of bait fish and during their fall spawn. The river has fly-fishing-only regulations on 5 miles (8.0 km) of river. Most of the river from Lake Francis south is open to lure and bait as well. Two tail-water dams provide cold river water for miles downstream making summer fishing on the Connecticut River excellent.


The river near its mouth
Founders Bridge with a view of the Bulkeley Bridge upstream
Mist upstream of the Bissell Bridge

The vast majority of the water in the Connecticut comes from Vermont and Vermont tributaries.[citation needed] Listed from south to north by location of mouth:


The Connecticut River is a significant barrier to travel between western and eastern New England. Several major transportation corridors cross the river including Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, Interstate 95 (Connecticut Turnpike), Interstate 90 (Massachusetts Turnpike), and Interstate 89. In addition, Interstate 91, whose route largely follows the river north-south, crosses it twice - once in Connecticut and once in Massachusetts.

See also



  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographical Names Information System: Connecticut River
  2. ^ Connecticut Heritage (Dorothy A. DeBisschop). "The Canal at Windsor Locks.". Retrieved January 20, 2006.
  3. ^ Wheeler, Scott (September 2002). The History of Logging in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. The Kingdom Historical. 
  4. ^ Klelowski, Ed. The Great Flood of 1936: The Connecticut River Valley Story WGBY (2003)
  5. ^ Connecticut River Valley Flood Control Commission. Greenfield, MA. "Connecticut River Flood Control Compact." Effective September 8, 1953.
  6. ^ Daily Hampshire Gazette ( "The Connecticut River: A sewer runs through it." September 15, 2008.
  7. ^ Massachusetts Water Watch Partnership (University of Massachusetts, Amherst). "Tri-State Connecticut River Targeted Watershed Initiative."
  8. ^ Kaplan, Thomas, "River Watchers, Tackling Speeders and Thin Budgets." New York Times, Metro section, August 30, 2007, accessed same day.

Additional reading

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CONNECTICUT RIVER, a stream of the New England states, U.S.A. It rises in Connecticut Lake in N. New Hampshire - several branches join in N.E. Vermont, near the Canadian line, about 2000 ft. above the sea - flows S., forming the boundary between Vermont and New Hampshire, crosses Massachusetts and Connecticut, and empties into Long Island Sound. Its course is about 345 m. and its drainage basin 11,085 sq. m. The principal tributary is the Farmington, which rises in the Green Mountains in Massachusetts, and joins the Connecticut above Hartford. From its head to the Massachusetts line the banks are wooded, the bed narrow, the valley slopes cut sharply in crystalline rocks, and the tributaries small and torrential. In the 273 m. of this upper portion of its course the average descent is 15 to 34 ft. a mile. In Massachusetts and Connecticut the river flows through a basin of weaker Triassic shales and sandstones, and the valley consequently broadens out, making the finest agricultural region of large extent in New England. Near Holyoke and at other points rugged hills of harder trap rock rise so high above the valley lowland that they are locally called mountains. From their crests there are beautiful views of the fertile Connecticut valley lowland and of the more distant enclosing hills of crystalline rocks. The river winds over this lowland, for the most part flowing over alluvial bottoms. The valley sides rise from the river channels by a series of steps or terraces. These terraces are noted for their perfection of form, being among the most perfect in the country. They have been cut by the river in its work of removing the heavy deposits of gravel, sand and clay that were laid down in this lowland during the closing stages of the Glacial Period, when great volumes of water, heavily laden with sediment, were poured into this valley from streams issuing from the receding ice front. In the course of this excavation of glacial deposits the river has here and there discovered buried spurs of rock over which the water now tumbles in rapids and falls. For example, 11 m. above Hartford are the Enfield Falls, where a descent of 31 8 ft. in low water (17.6 in highest water) is made in 5.25 m. At Middletown, Conn., the river turns abruptly S.E., leaving the belt of Triassic rocks and again entering the area of crystalline rocks which border the lowland. Therefore, from near Middletown to the sea the valley again narrows. The river valley is a great manufacturing region, especially where there is a good water-power derived from the stream, as at Wilder and Bellows Falls, Vt., at Turners Falls and Holyoke, Mass., and at Windsor Locks, Conn. Five miles below Brattleboro, Vt., a huge power dam was under construction in 1909. Efforts have been made by the United States govern ment to open the river to Holyoke, and elaborate surveys were made in 1896-1907. At Enfield Rapids is a privately built canal with locks 80 ft. long and 18 ft. wide, handling boats with a draft of 3 ft. From Hartford seaward the Connecticut is a tidal and navigable stream. Bars form at the mouth and have had to be removed annually by dredging. From 1829-1899 the Federal government expended $585,640 on the improvement of the river. During the colonial period the Connecticut river played an important part in the settlement of New England. The rival English and Dutch fur traders found it a convenient highway, and English homeseekers were soon attracted to its valley by the fertility of the meadow lands. From the middle of the 17th century until the advent of the railway the stream was a great thoroughfare between the seaboard and the region to the north. Its valley was consequently settled with unusual rapidity, and is now a thickly populated region, with many flourishing towns and cities.

See Annual Reports of the Chief of Engineers, U.S. Army, passim (index, 1900); E. M. Bacon's Connecticut River and the Valley of the Connecticut (New York, 1906); G. S. Roberts's Historic Towns of the Connecticut River Valley (Schenectady, New York, 1906); and Martha K. Genth, "Valley Towns of Connecticut," in the Bulletin of the American Geographical Society, vol. xxxix. No. 9 (New York, 1907) .

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Simple English

File:Connecticut River Map.gif
Map of the Connecticut River watershed.

The Connecticut River is the largest river in New England, which is a region in the eastern United States. It is about 407 miles (655 km) long, with a watershed covering about 11,250 square miles (29,137 square kilometers). Every second, it pours about 19,600 cubic feet (560 cubic meters) per second into its mouth at Long Island Sound, part of the Atlantic Ocean. The river flows through the U.S. states of New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. Interstate 91 parallels the river for a notably long distance.


[[File:|thumb|right|250px|The Connecticut River near its source]]

File:Connecticut River
A bridge over the river.

[[File:|thumb|right|250px|The river near Colebrook.]]

CT denotes Connecticut, VT Vermont, NH New Hampshire, and MA Massachusetts.

  • Black Hall River (CT)
  • Falls River (CT)
  • Eightmile River (CT)
  • Deep River (CT)
  • Salmon River (CT)
  • Mattabesset River (CT)
  • Hockanum River (CT)
  • Park River (CT)
  • Farmington River (CT)
  • Scantic River (CT)
  • Westfield River (MA)
  • Mill River (Springfield, MA)
  • Chicopee River (MA)
  • Manhan River (MA)
  • Mill River (Northampton, MA)
  • Fort River (Hadley, MA)
  • Mill River (Hatfield, MA)
  • Mill River (Amherst, MA)
  • Sawmill River (MA)
  • Deerfield River (MA)
  • Fall River (MA)
  • Millers River (MA)
  • Ashuelot River (NH)
  • West River (VT)
  • Partridge Brook (NH)
  • Cold River (NH)
  • Saxtons River (VT)
  • Williams River (VT)
  • Black River (VT)
  • Little Sugar River (NH)
  • Sugar River (NH)
  • Blow-me-down Brook (NH)
  • Ottauquechee River (VT)
  • Mascoma River (NH)
  • White River (VT)
  • Mink Brook (NH)
  • Ompompanoosuc River (VT)
  • Waits River (VT)
  • Oliverian Brook (NH)
  • Wells River (VT)
  • Ammonoosuc River (NH)
  • Stevens River (VT)
  • Passumpsic River (VT)
  • Johns River (NH)
  • Israel River (NH)
  • Upper Ammonoosuc River (NH)
  • Paul Stream (VT)
  • Nulhegan River (VT)
  • Simms Stream (NH)
  • Mohawk River (NH)
  • Halls Stream (VT)
  • Indian Stream (NH)
  • Perry Stream (NH)

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