“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Newport in Orleans County, Vermont — The American Northeast (New England)

Northern Forest Canoe Trail

Northeast Kingdom

Northern Forest Canoe Trail Marker (front) image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., August 12, 2018
1. Northern Forest Canoe Trail Marker (front)


For thousands of years, the waterways of the Northeast Kingdom provided the best travel routes across the rugged landscape. Lake Memphremagog is a hub which connects the northeast's major waterways: Lake Champlain to the west, the St. Lawrence River to the north, and via the Clyde River, the Connecticut River to the east. The lake is also the heart of the Western Abenaki homeland, used for thousands of years by Abenaki families to hunt, fish, and travel. These waters have been used by Rogers' Rangers on their infamous escape, smugglers bringing whisky over the international line, sightseers looking for the elusive serpent called Memphre, and local residents out to fish or just chug down the shoreline to eat dinner at a lakeside restaurant.

History of the Trail
Following ancient Native American travel routes, the Northern Forest Canoe Trail passes through communities founded by European settlers and the surrounding landscapes which support agriculture and forest-based economies. The land speaks of its history—of rocks and ruins, people and plants, of natural and economic forces at play. The Trail traverses 10,000 years of human settlement—from subsistence and exploration, through wars, industrial development and conservation—while offering paddlers an unequalled outdoor

Northern Forest Canoe Trail Marker (back) image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., August 12, 2018
2. Northern Forest Canoe Trail Marker (back)
recreational experience.

Waterways of the Northern Forest
The Northern Forest Canoe Trail traverses 22 rivers and streams, 56 lakes and ponds, and over a dozen watersheds as it passes through an area known as the Northern Forest. In this boreal landscape, the forests have always been the center of ecology, culture and economics. Names like Missisquoi and Ammonoosuc recall the first people to ply the waters in birchbark canoes, hunting and trading along the same routes that eventually brought European explorers inland. Water power fueled growing communities and industries. Rivers carried logs from forest to mill for lumber to build the growing cities of the Northeast. City-dwellers followed waterways into the wilderness for rejuvenation and sport. Today, for both recreation and livelihood, rivers and forests continue to be central to life here, and the Trail flows like a common thread, weaving together the historical, cultural, and natural stories of the region.

The Northern Forest today
• 30 million acres the largest area of intact forest in the eastern U.S.

• 1.5 million residents

• reforested since the 1850s when it was the leading timber producer in the world

• more boat launches per capita than anywhere else in the northeastern U.S.!

[Right side illustration captions, from top to bottom, read]

Northern Forest Canoe Trail Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., August 12, 2018
3. Northern Forest Canoe Trail Marker
Looking NW toward the lake
The first boats on these waters were dugout canoes that the ancestors of today's Abenaki fashioned from logs. Eventually, lighter-weight birch bark canoes, like the one depicted here, replaced the dugouts, as they were more practical for long-distance travel and portaging.

• The Clyde River became famous in the early 19th century for its salmon migrations. Tourists and locals alike lined up elbow-to-elbow to catch landlocked salmon (Salmon salar) from the railroad bridge over the mouth of the Clyde River where it enters Memphremagog. Salmon had almost disappeared from the lake by the 1950s, but populations are recovering today.

• In 1933, as they steamed along the lake beneath Owl's Head Mountain, a dozen passengers aboard the Anthemis saw a "huge snake," over 50 feet long and 10 feet wide, swimming in an undulating motion. Known today as Memphre, the sea serpent has been sighted numerous times since 1816.


The Northern Forest Canoe Trail follows an ancient travel route through the Northeast Kingdom. Its waterways today provide electricity production, critical wildlife habitat, and recreation for paddlers. Lake Memphremagog provides wide views of the islands and surrounding mountains to paddlers who are prepared for wind and waves. The Clyde River flows into Memphremagog in Newport, having descended from Island Pond through diverse

Lake Memphremagog image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., August 12, 2018
4. Lake Memphremagog
wetlands, lakes, and ponds, past farms and villages, and through hydroelectric turbines. Whitewater paddlers can enjoy the lower Clyde's rapids, and those seeking calm waters can explore South Bay.

[Right side illustration captions, from top to bottom, read]
• South Bay generally provides calmer waters for paddling than the main lake, and its wetlands support mink, beaver, river otters, moose, and many species of birds, turtles, and fish. Originally forested, the marshlands developed after the 1883 construction of a dam at the outlet of Memphremagog, which stabilized the water level four feet higher than its historic norm.

• The international border crosses Lake Memphremagog at the southern edge of Province Island. The 100-acre island, and the distinct ridgeline of Owl's Head Mountain above it, are landmarks on the lake, and both figure in the stories of smuggling that color the lake's history.

• The Clyde River's Dam #11 had been controversial since its construction in 1957, when it halted salmon migrations upstream. After breaching by natural causes (shown here), it became the first dam in the nation ordered removed by the Federal Energy Regulation Commission to improve fish habitat. A controlled explosion took it down in 1996.

Erected by Northern Forest Canoe Trail.
Location. 44° 56.222′ N, 72° 12.51′ W. Marker is in Newport, Vermont, in Orleans County. Touch for map. Marker is near the Lake Memphremagog waterfront, about 300 feet NNW of the intersection of Main (US 5) and Coventry Streets. Marker is in this post office area: Newport VT 05855, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Early 19th Century Newport / Newport au dèbut du 19e siècle (within shouting distance of this marker); The Lane Opera House / Le « Lane Opera House » (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Newport's Hotels and Tourism / Les Hotels de Newport et le Tourisme (about 300 feet away); Tour Boats on the Lake / Les Bateaux de Randonnée sur le Lac (about 400 feet away); Pomerleau Park (about 600 feet away); The Arrival of the Railroad / L'Arrivée du Chemin de Fer (about 600 feet away); Newport's Fire Fighters / Les Pompiers de Newport (about 700 feet away); Early 20th Century, Newport / Newport au début du 20e siècle (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Newport.
Also see . . .
1. Northern Forest Canoe Trail. (Submitted on August 29, 2018, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. Lake Memphremagog at Wikipedia. (Submitted on August 29, 2018, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
Categories. EnvironmentExplorationNative AmericansWaterways & Vessels
Credits. This page was last revised on August 29, 2018. This page originally submitted on August 29, 2018, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 52 times since then and 7 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on August 29, 2018, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
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