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Where We Live by John Silveira and Richard Blunt. Photos and commentary from Oregon and New England.

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.



The Farmington Valley and Its River

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

The Farmington Valley was once wholly under water, covered by Lake Hitchcock, one of the largest glacial lakes in New England. This 175 mile long lake stretched from northern Vermont to central Connecticut where it was it was impounded by glacial deposits. These damming deposits were breached about 12000 years ago draining the lake and creating the Farmington Valley watershed, a 600 square area that drains into the Farmington River.

The Watershed provides drinking water for the 600,000 people in the Farmington Valley and the greater Hartford area. The River’s combination of gin-clear water with clear flat pools broken up by classic riffles and runs, and wide sediment filled areas, provide excellent fishing for several species of trout and Atlantic salmon.

The river provides water for working farms and community gardens along its shores during growing season dry periods. However, having a river flowing through your neighborhood has consequences as well as benefits.

When nature dumps more water into any river than the river can contain, the river corrects the situation by pushing this excess water over its banks. Last year, in September, heavy rain from Tropical Storm Irene caused the river to overrun its banks. This was followed by an October snow storm that dumped more water into the river and did unprecedented damage to trees and crops.  The following photos illustrate both the problems and benefits of having a river as a next door neighbor.

 

This is the Pinchot Sycamore, the largest tree in the state of  Connecticut and one of largest sycamores in this country. It is located near the base of Talcott Mountain on the east bank of the Farmington River. If you look through the space between the branches on the lower left, you will see the Heublein Tower in the distance. The tree is 95 feet tall, measures 26 feet around at the trunk with a canopy diameter of 140 feet. It is named after Gifford Pinchot, the first chief of the United States Forestry Service . The tree is recovering from damage caused by the October 2011 snowstorm that destroyed thousands of lesser trees in the North East.

Welcome to the Meadows, an area of fertile land by the the Farmington River that native Americans named Tunxis Sepus, (“at the bend of the little river”). The Tunxis Tribe settled here to reap the benefits of the abundant hunting, fishing and farming. Farmington residents call this area “the flats”. The fishing and farming are as rewarding today as the were in the sixteen-hundreds. The “flats” support several successful commercial farms and the largest community garden area in the state with more then 200 registered gardeners.

Tropical storm Irene deposited more water than the river could contain. Under normal conditions the river bank is behind the trees in the back of this picture.

A picture taken several days ago, shows the remarkable ability of the Farmington River to recover from disaster.

Fly fish this season has been better then in years past.

A picture of Terri’s garden after Tropical Storm Irene. This is one possible outcome when a river shares a  problem with neighbors.

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