National Geographic : 1943 Apr
VOL. LXXXIII, No. 4 WASHINGTON APRIL, 1943 THE MAGAZ HNE COPYRIGHT,1943, BY NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY, WASHINGTON,D. C. INTERNATIONALCOPYRIGHTSECURED The Long River of New England In War and Peace, from Mountain Wilderness to the Sea, Flows the Connecticut River, Through a Valley Abounding in History, Scenery, Inventive Genius, and Industry By ALBERT W. ATWOOD With Illustrations by Staff Photographer B. Anthony Stewart OF NEW ENGLAND'S many rivers the Connecticut alone runs the full length of that rich and historic land. On the map it stands out like a giant blue artery in the very heart of its region. Indians named it the "Long River," and today the far reaches of the Connecticut ex tend through a valley that is a cross section of northeastern America, so amazing is the va riety of diversified human interests. In its long southward journey from the border of Canadian Quebec to Long Island Sound, the river goes through a thousand changes in size, width, depth, surface, pace, mood, and surroundings (map, page 405). For centuries the Connecticut has given life. True, it takes life away because from time to time, as far back as human records go, it has burst forth, in paroxysms of terrible rage, to destroy all that stood in its way. But men soon forget. Besides, they cannot live without the river or its valley; it plays too many parts, it performs too many func tions in the four States so much of which it dominates. The settlement of the rich fields, or inter vales (page 407), of the Connecticut Valley in the 1630's by land-hungry and freedom-seek ing groups from Massachusetts Bay was the beginning of the westward movement of Eng lish colonists in the New World. For centuries bands of Indians worked their way up and down the river in canoes; later, white settlers moved up in the same way. Then through the years came towns, indus tries, cities, highways, and railroads-all at tracted to their location by the necessity of being near the river itself. New Hampshire, Mother of Rivers It is in a wild, rugged, heavily wooded and mountainous region in the extreme northern tip of New Hampshire, mother of several large and useful rivers, that the Connecticut takes its source. Flowing nearly due south, between the ridges of the White and Green Mountains, with their narrow, steep valleys and rugged peaks, the highest in New England, it forms the boundary between New Hampshire and Vermont,* and crosses Massachusetts and Connecticut, in which States the valley broad ens out into low, fertile, level bottom lands. The Daniel Webster Highway, U S 3, the main north-south route through the central part of New Hampshire, is today the shortest road from Boston to Quebec. Stand beside the highway a few feet north of the interna tional boundary and you will see before you in this French-Canadian province a peaceful panorama of long-settled rural countryside, whereas behind you, in northern New Hamp shire, there is only wilderness. *New Hampshire owns the river, the U. S. Su preme Court having decided, January 8, 1934, that New Hampshire's western boundary is the west bank of the river at low-water mark.