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Old Nov 2, 2009, 6:39 PM   #1
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Default Sumner Falls on the Connecticut River

Except for its very upper reaches, the Connecticut River, which forms the boundary between Vermont and New Hampshire, is mostly a slow moving river. It used to be full of rapids and whitewater, but today hydroelectric dams have flooded the rapids. But one notable exception is Sumner Falls, near Hartland Vermont. Here the river crosses a very hard spine of bedrock which resists erosion, creating a stretch of rapids and small falls. The river drops about 7 vertical feet over a very short distance. About two weeks ago I was passing through this area around lunch time so I ate my sandwich by the falls. It's a very beautiful area, and I'm told that bald eagles frequent the area, and that there is pretty good fishing here. I try to stop by whenever I'm in the area, but I have yet to see an eagle or catch a decent sized fish here. In mid summer the whitewater kayakers come here in large numbers, but during my brief visit I had the place entirely to myself. Unfortunately, looking at the falls from the Vermont side where I was, I was looking straight into the sun, creating glare and lens flare. My polarizing filter helped a lot, but it could not work miracles.


Here's a view of the falls from the river bank:
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Old Nov 2, 2009, 6:40 PM   #2
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This is more or less the same view, but I have walked out on the bedrock spine as far as I could.
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Old Nov 2, 2009, 6:41 PM   #3
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In the early part of the 20th century Vermont and new Hampshire had a big argument over exactly where the state boundary is. The issue went all the way to the Supreme Court, and in 1934, the court ruled that the state boundary is the mean low water mark on the Vermont side, which means that the river itself is in New Hampshire. There may be other cases like this, but this is the only instance I'm aware of in which the state boundary is not the middle of the river.
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Old Nov 2, 2009, 6:43 PM   #4
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Throughout the 19th century the forests of northern New England were very heavily logged. The loggers would cut trees throughout the winter, stacking them in huge piles along the river banks. In spring and early summer, they would roll the logs into the Connecticut River (and many other rivers) and drive the logs to the sawmills that were mostly located in Massachusetts and Connecticut. The log drives were incredibly dangerous, and Sumner Falls was particularly notorious. Many log drivers lost their lives, including Charles A. Barber from Cherryfield Maine, who died here on June 21, 1895 at only 19 years of age. I have no idea who left the flowers, but someone left this small tribute to his memory.
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Old Nov 2, 2009, 6:50 PM   #5
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It looks like a beautiful area of the country. The last image of the old grave site with the flowers recently left is quite touching. It would be interesting to know more about the young man who is resting there.

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Old Nov 2, 2009, 10:55 PM   #6
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Thanks for letting me enjoy your lunch hour. I love the history lesson and the bench-mark. Much more interesting than those that say "USGS..."
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Old Nov 3, 2009, 12:03 AM   #7
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That First shot is beautiful and the last so sad.

Rodney
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Old Nov 3, 2009, 5:45 AM   #8
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Great views of some very interesting geology - nicely captured too!
The survey marker and associated history is indeed fascinating.
Such a sad, but all too common story in the last photo.
Thanks for sharing these great photographs, and the stories behind them, told so well!
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Old Nov 3, 2009, 6:53 AM   #9
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Great pictures and interesting history that goes with them. Thanks for taking me there with your lens.

Lou
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Old Nov 3, 2009, 1:40 PM   #10
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Nice shots, Mtnman.
I really like the second river shot, very dramatic.
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