Connecticut River

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Did an ancestor travel the Connecticut River of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont? Learn about this settler migration route, its transportation history, and find related genealogy sources.

Connecticut River.jpg
The Connecticut River flows north to south through Springield and Hartford. It was a major transportation route in colonial times.

History[edit | edit source]

The Connecticut River in New England is the longest river in that region. It runs in a meandering pattern of North to South for approximately 410 miles. It rises out of a small New Hampshire lake near the US / Canadian border and travels as far as Long Island Sound where it provides 70% of the fresh water used in that area. It provides water to fertile farmlands in four Northeastern states and one Canadian province. The watershed of the Connecticut River covers over 11,000 square miles. It is an important water source in several areas. It was designated as one of 14 American Heritage Rivers in 1997.

Settlement and Migration[edit | edit source]

Several Native American tribes have lived along the river and in the Connecticut Valley. These include Mohegans, Nipmucs, Pocumtucs and Pequots. After the European migration to the Americas the area was colonized and explored by both Europeans and newly settled Americans. The Dutch held important settlements in the area but soon were eclipsed in number by other European settlers including the English Puritans. The land along the Connecticut River was a place of many political and religious disputes and it was these disagreements that led to more and more small settlements in that region. Geographic distance, for the most part, proved to be an excellent arbitrator of the disputes.

Border Disputes[edit | edit source]

The headwaters of the Connecticut River were a source of great discussion during the late 1800s. At one time the local people did not know if they were part of the USA or Canada. This resulted in the organization of a micro country which they called the" Indian Stream Republic". This area is now part of Pittsburg, Coös County, New Hampshire Genealogy. The other interesting thing about the headwaters is that until the 1900s, the river was the border which divided NH and Vermont (or Canada). With spring snow runoffs, the river could change where it flowed. Therefore, depending on which side of the river a family lived on, their home state varied from year to year. It was a unique situation where a river decided your home state and even your country as the river also moved into Canada.Hampshire, USA and the next, due to the river position, they might find they lived in Canada. It was only after a treaty decided the VT/Canadian line at the 45th parallel that the north/south position was established as well.

The other consideration at the headquarters was that there was confusion as to which river head was the Connecticut and which were tributaries. The other rivers at the headwaters are Hall Stream and Indian Stream. Hall Stream is the border between Canada and Pittsburg, NH. The northernmost town in Vermont is Canaan. (Beecher Falls, VT is a subsection of Canaan, VT)