Connecticut River

From Academic Kids

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The Connecticut River as seen from the French King Bridge in western Massachusetts.

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 into Long Island Sound at Fenwick, Connecticut. It has a total length of 405 miles (640 km), and a drainage basin extending over 11,250 mi² (29,138 km²). The source of the Connecticut River is the Fourth Connecticut Lake in New Hampshire. Important tributaries include the Miller's, Mill, Deerfield, White, and Swift Rivers. (The Swift River has been 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.



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The Connecticut River as seen near its mouth.

The river's name is the French corruption of the Algonquin Indian word "quinetucket" and means long tidal river. The first European to see the river was the Dutch explorer Adriaen Block in 1614. The first English colonist to record his visit was Edward Winslow from the Plymouth Colony in 1632. In 1633 the English built at 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.

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 (17.67 meters) is at Holyoke, Massachusetts. Other important centers include Windsor and Hartford in Connecticut, Springfield, Massachusetts, the largest city on the river, and Brattleboro, Vermont.

The Connecticut River Flood Control Compact was established in 1953 in response to severe flooding. The Clean Water Act in 1965 has also had a major impact on the Connecticut River and its tributaries.


The Connecticut River is a habitat to several species of anadromous fish, including the American shad, American eel 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.

See also

External links

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