Bellows Falls in Windham County, Vermont — The American Northeast (New England)
With wood, brick, iron, steel, and stone, generations of residents have sheltered life and livelihood in a place of natural beauty and practical value. Today we can still read the story of these efforts and aspirations in a rich legacy of surviving residential, commercial, and industrial buildings.
Although many of its buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Bellows Falls is a village that builds on its past. For example, America’s first canal was dug here and now is used to generate electricity. Many buildings still serve their original function. Architectural styles offer historic clues about the ebb and flow of a community’s resources. For example, Greek Revival homes with later Queen Anne additions are evidence of the village’s boom periods.
Downtown Historic District
Known as the “Square ,” the Bellows Falls downtown is adjacent to the historic canal and features shops, galleries and restaurants in nineteenth—and early twentieth—century buildings, including a barrel-roofed Worcester diner and Colonial Revival town hall with theater.
Walk this triangular residential area to see many restored homes featuring diverse architectural styles ranging from Greek Revival to French Second Empire to Queen Anne, many with old-fashioned front porches.
Connecticut River Falls and Gorge
Until European settlement, Native American tribes gathered at the falls to harvest shad and Atlantic salmon migrating up the river to spawning areas further north. The first bridge spanning the Connecticut River in Vermont was created across gorge in 1785.
Possibly 300 to 2,000 years old, these carvings by Native Americans are an intriguing legacy of the early presence of indigenous communities. Even though their meaning is unknown and their original appearance has been altered, the petroglyphs are considered a sacred site.
Bellows Falls Canal
Constructed between 1791 and 1802, this canal was among the first in America and was a major influence on the growth of the town because it also provided power for many mills.
Powerhouse, Fish Ladder and Visitor Center
From the canal’s infancy, its waters were diverted into sluiceways to power mills. By 1898, a local utility was generating electricity with canal water. A fish ladder was completed in 1982 to help reintroduce salmon to the upper Connecticut River for the first time since the 1790s, when the river was first dammed for the canal. Now fish move up the ladder much the way earlier canal boats moved up the locks. Just above the powerhouse is a Visitor Center with information about fish migration and local history. Open seasonally.
Rockingham Meeting House
Erected in 1787, at a time when settlement near the Connecticut River Valley was widely scattered, the meeting house stands prominently on high ground at the geographic center of the Town of Rockingham. This location reflects its importance as a center for both religious and civil affairs throughout the 1800s. Open seasonally.
Location. 43° 8.136′ N, 72° 26.682′ W. Marker is in Bellows Falls, Vermont, in Windham County. Marker is on Depot Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Bellows Falls VT 05101, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 5 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Waypoint Center (here, next to this marker); Bellows Falls Canal (approx. 0.2 miles away); First Connecticut River Bridge (approx. 0.6 miles away in New Hampshire); John Kilburn Cabin (approx. 1.6 miles away in New Hampshire); Rev. John Williams (approx. 3 miles away); Rockingham Meetinghouse (approx. 4.2 miles away); Rockingham Meeting House (approx. 4.2 miles away); The Westminster Massacre (approx. 4˝ miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Bellows Falls.
Categories. • Industry & Commerce • Waterways & Vessels •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on June 8, 2013, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Md 21234. This page has been viewed 444 times since then. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on June 8, 2013, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Md 21234. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.