The Rivers of Vermont
Vermont’s Rivers have
always been important in our history.
They have provided a means of travel, an early source of power for mills
and a way to get logs downstream. Today
they are used for recreation, as a source of water and as a way to dispose of
treated sewage water.
There are four watersheds in Vermont.
They are 1) The Connecticut,
2) The Memphremagog-St.
Lawrence, 3) Lake
Champlain-St. Lawrence, and 4) The Hudson. A watershed includes
all the land that is drained by a network of rivers and streams, which flow
into a larger body of water such as a river, lake or ocean. Imagine that you could look at the entire
watershed all at once, perhaps in a satellite photograph. The watershed might look like a huge
basin. In fact, watersheds are sometimes
called drainage basins. When a small stream flows into a larger
stream or river, the smaller stream is called a tributary
of the larger stream.
The Connecticut River is one of New
England’s major waterways.
It begins in northern New Hampshire, flows between New Hampshire and
Vermont, then through Massachusetts and Connecticut where it reaches the
Atlantic Ocean, about 400 miles from its source. Some of the major tributaries of the
Connecticut River in Vermont are the Passumpsic, Waits,
and West Rivers. Unlike
the few larger rivers that flow into Lake Champlain, there are many smaller,
rapid flowing rivers that are also tributaries to the Connecticut
Most of Vermont’s largest
rivers are part of the Lake Champlain drainage
basin. Lake Champlain drains north into
River and the St. Lawrence River in Canada. The Winooski,
and Missisquoi Rivers
rise (or begin) well to the east of the main crest of the Green
Mountains. They have cut
great valleys through the mountains as the land rebounded (or rose back up)
after the weight of the glacial ice retreated.
The places where the rivers have cut through the mountains are sometimes
called water gaps.
River flows through the northern Green Mountains
and then into Canada. The river then swings back into Vermont on its way to Lake Champlain. The only national wildlife refuge in Vermont is located at the mouth of the Missisquoi on Lake Champlain.
The Otter Creek is another Vermont
river that empties into Lake Champlain. It is the longest river entirely within Vermont. Otter Creek flows out of the Valley of Vermont,
through the towns of Rutland, Brandon,
Middlebury, and Vergennes, and empties into Lake Champlain in the town of Ferrisburg.
on the St. Lawrence
Part of the Hudson River watershed takes in the southwestern
corner of Vermont. The Hudson River flows south through New York State
and empties into the Atlantic Ocean at New
York City. The Batten
Kill and Walloomsac River are the two main
Vermont Rivers of this watershed. “Kill”
is a Dutch word for river or stream and reminds us that Dutch settlers once
lived in this area.
The Lake Memphremagog-St. Lawrence
Four Vermont Rivers flow into Lake Memphremagog.
The Clyde, Barton, and Black all flow north and reach the lake
near Newport. The Johns
River flows into Quebec before reaching Lake Memphremagog. A number of small northern Vermont
streams, including the Coaticook River, drain north into Quebec’s
St. Francis River.