Housatonic River: Wikis


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Housatonic River
Looking south down the Housatonic River toward the I-95 bridge in Milford, CT.
Country USA
States Connecticut, Massachusetts
Counties Fairfield, CT, Litchfield, CT, New Haven, CT, Berkshire, MA
City Pittsfield, MA
Source Muddy Pond
 - location Washington, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, USA
 - elevation 1,440 ft (439 m)
 - coordinates 42°23′12″N 73°06′45″W / 42.38667°N 73.1125°W / 42.38667; -73.1125
Mouth Long Island Sound
 - location Milford, New Haven County, Connecticut, USA
 - elevation ft (0 m)
 - coordinates 41°10′08″N 73°06′31″W / 41.16889°N 73.10861°W / 41.16889; -73.10861
Length 149 mi (240 km)
Basin 1,948 sq mi (5,045 km2)
Discharge for Stratford/Milford, CT
 - average 4,700 cu ft/s (133 m3/s)
 - max 48,600 cu ft/s (1,376 m3/s)
 - min 54 cu ft/s (2 m3/s)
Discharge elsewhere (average)
 - Great Barrington, MA 767 cu ft/s (22 m3/s)
Housatonic River watershed
Stevenson Dam, which blocks the Housatonic River to form Lake Zoar, and that also functions as the State Route 34 bridge across the river

The Housatonic River is a river, approximately 149 mi (240 km) long, in western Massachusetts and western Connecticut in the United States. It flows south to southeast, and drains about 1,950 square miles (5,100 km2) of southwestern New England into Long Island Sound. Its watershed is just to the west of the watershed of the lower Connecticut River.



The Housatonic rises from four sources in far western Massachusetts in the Berkshire Mountains near the city of Pittsfield. It flows southward through western Massachusetts through the Berkshires and into western Connecticut, and empties into Long Island Sound between the towns of Stratford and Milford.

The river's total fall is 1430 feet (959 feet from the confluence of its east and west branches). Its major tributaries are the Williams, Green and Konkapot Rivers in Massachusetts, the Tenmile River in New York, and the Shepaug, Pomperaug, Naugatuck, and Still Rivers in Connecticut. It receives the Naugatuck River at Derby, Connecticut, and the Still River south of New Milford, Connecticut.

Five dams impounded the river in Connecticut to produce hydroelectricity, the Falls Village, Bulls Bridge, Shepaug, Stevenson and Derby dams. The last three dams form a chain of lakes, Lake Lillinonah, Lake Zoar and Lake Housatonic, from New Milford south to Shelton.


The river's name comes from the Mohican phrase "usi-a-di-en-uk", translated as "beyond the mountain place".[1]

Inspired by the river during his honeymoon, the American classical music composer Charles Ives wrote The Housatonic at Stockbridge as part of his composition Three Places in New England during the 1910s. The town of Stockbridge is located in southwestern Massachusetts. The river enters Stockbridge on the east side of town then turns south towards Connecticut.

From about 1932 until 1977 the river received PCB pollution discharges from the General Electric plant at Pittsfield, MA.[2] Although the water quality has improved in recent decades, the river continues to be contaminated by PCBs.[3]

There is an American Nuclear Test of the same name, although it is not known if the name came from the river or some other source.

The United States Navy named a ship for the Housatonic River. The USS Housatonic has the distinction of being the first ship in history to be sunk by a submarine, the confederate vessel CSS H.L. Hunley.


The Housatonic River is a popular whitewater paddling destination beginning at Weatogue, CT and continuing to Gaylordsville, CT. Most of the river is quickwater and Class I whitewater with long sections of Class II-III whitewater. A deadly and extreme Class VI resides at Great Falls (in Canaan (Falls Village), CT) and is most likely not able to be paddled. The most dangerous and difficult section that is navigable is by Bulls Bridge, CT with Class V whitewater.

Two of the three lakes formed by the dams are used for rowing by clubs, schools, and to host regattas. Lake Lillinonah is used by the GMS Rowing Center and is host to the GMS Regatta.[4] Lake Housatonic is used by the Yale University Crew Team and the New Haven Rowing Club and is host to the Derby Sweeps & Sculls and the Head of the Housatonic.

The Housatonic River is also a popular fly fishing destination. Fly fishing on the Housatonic River has been compared with many western rivers and boasts some of the finest trophy trout fishing in the eastern United States. The most popular area for fly fishing is between the Falls Village Dam and the town of Cornwall Bridge in Litchfield County.

See also


  1. ^ Housatonic Valley Association. Cornwall Bridge, CT. "History of the Housatonic River." Accessed 2010-02-16.
  2. ^ U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Boston, MA. GE/Housatonic River Site in New England: Site History and Description." 2009-11-12.
  3. ^ deFur, Peter L. (2004). "Housatonic River Ecological Risk Assessment." Environmental Stewardship Concepts, Richmond, VA. Presentation at EPA Public Peer Review Meeting, 2004-01-13.
  4. ^ GMS Rowing Center. New Milford, CT. "About Us/Vision."

External links



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