Early Life Along Otter Creek in Vergennes
Shhh. Imagine Otter Creek 300 years ago when it was pristine wilderness. The river teems with fish, herons, ducks and other waterfowl. Deer and moose tracks dot the river's edge. Downed trees, trampled shrubs, and mounds of mud, branches and twigs are the work of industrious beavers. Sleek river otters glide gracefully through the water. Otters were so plentiful that the Native Peoples named this river Wanakake-took, Otter River.
Lifeblood of Native Peoples
The river flows 102 miles to Lake Champlain from its source near the town of Dorset in Bennington County. Iroquoian and Algonquian Native Peoples traveled on the river and lived in its fertile valley for nearly 8000 years. They fished, hunted and gathered edible plants for food. Animal pelts and skins were used for clothing and shelter. Clay was dug and formed into pots and utensils. Tools, bows and arrows, and baskets were made from the native ash, white oak, willow, swamp maple and basswood. Deposits of chert yielded stone for projectile points and tools.
Exploration and Settlement
French trappers and fur traders journeyed to Lake Champlain in the mid-1600s in search of beaver pelts, which were made into fashionable men's hats in Europe. Much of northwestern Vermont, including Vergennes, was part of New France until after the French and Indian War (1754-1763). Colonists began settling along Otter Creek near the falls in the 1760s, following the defeat of the French forces in the Champlain Valley. Some acquired land through grants made by the royal governor of New Hampshire, while others claimed their land under a New York charter. Throughout western Vermont, land disputes flared up. Ethan Allen erected a blockhouse near here in the mid-1770s to protect the New Hampshire grants. Vermont was an independent republic from 1777 to 1791 due, in part, to these conflicts.
Erected by City of Vergennes.
Location. 44° 9.976′ N, 73° 15.31′ W. Marker is in Vergennes, Vermont, in Addison County. Marker can be reached from Main Street (Vermont Route 22A), on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Located in parking lot for Settler's Park, just off Vermont 22A. Marker is in this post office area: Vergennes VT 05491, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Commerce at the Crossroads (within shouting distance of this marker); The Vergennes Pump House (within shouting distance of this marker); World War Memorial (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Bixby Memorial Free Library (about 600 feet away); Vergennes 150th Anniversary (approx. 0.2 miles away); Commodore Thomas Macdonough (approx. ¼ mile away); Veterans Memorial (approx. ¼ mile away); Macdonough Shipyard (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Vergennes.
Categories. • Colonial Era • Native Americans • Settlements & Settlers • War, French and Indian •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 28, 2015, by Bill Donovan of Maplewood, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 208 times since then and 15 times this year. Photo 1. submitted on September 28, 2015, by Bill Donovan of Maplewood, New Jersey. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.