Words on the Water: Stories of Wantastegok, the West River and Abenaki Presence

Words on the Water: Stories of Wantastegok, the West River and Abenaki Presence

Join the Brattleboro Words Project for a special discussion about the West River petroglyphs and our region’s enduring Abenaki presence.

The Brattleboro Words Project presents a special Roundtable Discussion on the West River petroglyphs and our region’s enduring Abenaki presence on Friday August 16 at 6 pm at The Marina Restaurant, 28 Spring Tree Road, Brattleboro, VT 05301.

Diver/Explorer Annette Spaulding, Rich Holschuh, and Dr. Jessica Dolan will present their research from a pontoon boat while guests view from The Marina’s outdoor deck and from their own boats, kayaks, and canoes gathered around in the water for an enlightening and fun evening.

At 7 pm the presentation will move off the water and into the adjacent Marinaville tent for open discussion.

To reserve an outdoor table for 6:00 PM dinner on The Marina’s deck, call (802) 257-7563.
Click through for more information at the Brattleboro Words Project website.

Since construction of the Vernon Dam flooded the Retreat Meadows 110 years ago, Abenaki petroglyphs—ancient images carved in stone—have rested submerged, unseen evidence of the significant Native presence all around us.  A special installment of the monthly Brattleboro Words Project’s free Roundtable Discussion series will be held on the waters of the West River/Connecticut River confluence to explore this presence and celebrate ongoing Vermont Land Trust conservation efforts adjacent to the site at The Marina Restaurant.  

Archaeologist and diver Annette Spaulding—whose 25-year search led to finding the petroglyphs, Rich Holschuh – member of the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs, and anthropologist and Indigenous Studies scholar Jessica Dolan will present on the petroglyphs and their significance to the Western Abenaki community and our region as a whole. Brattleboro Historical Society President Joe Rivers will lead with a land acknowledgment and moderate the discussion. Reg Martell, Brattleboro Words Project Multimedia Producer conceived of and is producing the event.

The presentation will be given from a pontoon boat—Annette’s diving platform—from 6:00 to 7:00 PM, and the public is invited to gather round by boat, kayak, and canoe, or to observe from The Marina’s outdoor deck (call The Marina at (802) 257-7563 to reserve a deck table for dinner at 6:00 pm). After the presentation, attendees are invited to join Annette, Rich, and Jessica in the Marinaville tent (parking lot adjacent) for continued discussion and to learn more about their research on local indigenous history.

Spaulding, a certified Underwater Criminal Investigator, determined to find the petroglyphs after seeing a circa 1850 drawing that described them. She spent decades of research, did hundreds of dives (where she discovered many other historical artifacts) and dug through much sediment to find them in 2017. “This is a very sacred site for Native Americans,” Spaulding said. “The land should be undisturbed and protected forever.”

“The Petroglyphs here and in Bellows Falls are examples of an Indigenous form of art and textual communication about creation stories and the meaning of place” Dolan said. “My research with the Words Project is dedicated to highlighting the cultural history and ecology of Abenaki relationships with the greater Brattleboro area so the next generations can better understand the Indigenous histories of this place that we, and many others, have called home.” Dolan’s work is supported in part by the New England Grassroots Environment Fund.

Dolan and Holschuh are working on podcasts and school curriculum development on Indigenous studies for seven sites for The Brattleboro Words Project, a multi-year collaboration between the Brattleboro Historical Society, the Brattleboro Literary Festival, Write Action, Brooks Memorial Library and Marlboro College backed by a National Endowment for the Humanities matching grant and funding from The Windham Foundation, Edward Jones, Brattleboro Savings & Loan and other area sponsors.

Ready Set Paddle!

Join paddlers of all skill levels at the Annual Brattle Paddle! Racers can register on race day. Spectators are encouraged to watch from their own paddlecrafts on the river and along the shoreline and on bridges along the route. The more the merrier!

The Brattle Paddle
Sunday June 30, 2019
Registration: 8:30 am – 10 am
Race starts: 10:30 am 
Entry fee: $25.00
Racing distance: 9 miles
Recreational distance: 5 miles
Separate starts for different classes
Awards will be presented following the races

A light lunch will be provided under the party tent for all registered participants by The Marina On the Water.

Directions from North or South I-91 to Exit 3, South on Route 5 to The Marina On the Water (located right before the bridge where the West and Connecticut rivers meet)

For more information Contact: Sandy Harris at 603-363-4868 or racemonkey14@myfairpoint.net
Click through to read more about the Brattle Paddle on Upcountry Magazine.

Proceeds to benefit the West River Trail. 

The 7th Annual West River Trail Run

Join The Collaborative Saturday, June 1, 2019 for a beautiful run from South Londonderry, Vt. to Jamaica State Park. The route is 11 miles of fun and exciting terrain along the West River. We encourage all outdoor enthusiasts to participate individually or as a three-person relay team. There is also a 5K Fun Run with discounted registration for youth participants. All proceeds go to The Collaborative, a nonprofit providing healthy choices and activities for youth in the southern Vermont communities. For more information, call the office at 802-824-4200. For more information go to http://www.thecollaborative.us/westrivertrailrun.

Riverstone Preserve: Update on Invasive Plant Treatments

Dan Healey of Long View Forest and Jackie Comeau of Vt Fish & Wildlife survey invasive treatment results on the Riverstone Preserve. 

Don’t be concerned about all the dead plant material you are seeing from the trail along the Riverstone Preserve area! This past Tuesday morning, lower section steering committee members Kathleen,  Alex and Malcolm, had a tour of the results of the invasive plant treatments that were done on the Riverstone Preserve last fall, with Dan Healey of Long View Forest (who directed the treatment) and Jackie Comeau from the VT Dept of Fish & Wildlife (who monitors the work for the  EQIP grant funds from the NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) . In order to receive grant funds to pay for follow up treatments, at least 90% of the invasive species that were treated last fall had to have been eradicated. As the photo illustrates, the effect on invasive plants was dramatic.  Long View Forest will do a follow up treatment on the japanese knotweed and black swallow wort later this summer, and a third treatment in 2020.  After that, volunteers will be needed to keep these plants (that will inevitably make a come back) at a manageable level.  Along with the knotweed and black swallow wort, asiatic bittersweet, honeysuckle, multiflora rose, barberry and buckthorn were treated. It was lovely to see lots of ferns and other native plants springing up around the treated invasive plants–evidence of the effectiveness of the targeted treatment.  For more information about this project, you can email lowersection@wrt.org.

West River Trail Work Day May 15th

West River Trail, Trillium

Volunteers needed for West River Trail work day! 
Wednesday May 15
4 PM to 6:30 PM

We will meet at 3:45 PM on Wednesday, May 15 at the Marina Trailhead and plan to head out on the trail at 4 PM. We will mostly be doing drainage clearing, though a few people will be chainsawing downed logs. All in all the trail is in great shape, but we need to clear the leaves and debris out of the drainage ditches along the wetter areas of the trail. Bring mud boots, gloves, bug dope, water and an iron rake or hoe if you have one. We have extra tools, if needed. Optional gathering at the Marina Restaurant afterwards! For more information, contact lowersection@westrivertrail.org. We look forward to working out on the trail with you!

Help Clean Up the Wetlands!

Posted on behalf of the Connecticut River Conservancy:

This Saturday is Green-up Day. Many of you may have plans already, but if you don’t, please join Kathy Urffer, River Steward for the Connecticut River Conservancy (and local businesses, organizations and friends) to remove tires from the wetlands adjacent to the West River on Spring Tree Road. We will be meeting at 8:30 am at The Marina Restaurant (28 Spring Tree Road, Brattleboro, VT) on Saturday, May 4th and will be working on this until around noon.

Agenda for day:
8:00 am: Kathy on site for set up
8:30 am: volunteers arrive: welcome, job delegation, training
9:00 am: GO! CLEAN! GO!
12:30 pm: finish up and cleanup

Kathy will have: trash bags, gloves, t-shirts, tire and trash tally sheets, tarps You should bring: bug spray, water bottle, muck boots/ hip or chest waders, sunscreen (dare to dream!), carabiners for your keys and if you are willing, extra tarps (they will get dirty!)

Thanks in advance if you can come help out! Please spread the word! ~ For questions, contact Kathy Urffer, River Steward, Connecticut River Conservancy, formerly Connecticut River Watershed Council. 802-258-0413. kurffer@ctriver.org

Image courtesy of Green Up Vermont. More Green Up Day activities featured in the Brattleboro Reformer. Click through for more info.

Windham Regional Commission Trails Count

The excerpt below is from the Windham Regional Commission Trails Count Program. Click through to read the full story on the WRC website.

Would you believe that dozens of people each day were out on the West River Trail? Windham Regional Commission has expanded its pedestrian count program to the winter months, and recent data both surprised and pleased us.
Counts on the West River Trail in Brattleboro from December 11, 2018 through New Year’s Day 2019 were only about 15 percent lower than the long term average for non-winter months. It was probably the short days as much as, if not more so, than the cold though that kept people from getting out. We came to this conclusion because while weekday counts for that period were lower than average, weekend counts, when people are more likely to have an opportunity to get out during daylight hours, were exactly the same as the long term average for data recorded in spring, summer, and fall.
On Christmas Day we recorded 110 “trips” on our West River Trail counter. A “trip” is one person passing in one direction on the trail. At a place like the West River Trail where most people go out and back, we can estimate the number of persons using the trail to be about half the number of trips. This would mean about 55 people were out on the West River Trail on Christmas Day, about 50 on New Year’s Eve day, and about 68—our highest daily number—on December 29.

Green Mountain Club Hike

West River Trail

LONDONDERRY — Join the Green Mountain Club and explore the West River Trail on Saturday, Feb.16, 2019. Participants are meeting 1 p.m. in the old railroad depot building at the corner of Rt 100 and West River Street in South Londonderry, then carpooling to the trail head. Depending on snow cover, snowshoe or hike with traction on the level railroad bed of the old West River Railroad on this northernmost part of the West River Trail. This is an easy, beginner hike. RSVP to Dale Malekoff at 802-824-5030 or dmalekoff@myfairpoint.net.

Support the West River Trail

West River Trail Marina TrailheadAs 2018 draws to a close, we invite you to include the Friends of the West River Trail in your year-end giving.

At a recent meeting of the Lower Section Steering Committee, we paused to take stock of all that has been accomplished this year and acknowledge how good we are feeling about the trail.  The trail is in great shape, largely because of generous donations received from all of you.

With these funds, we were able to hire Jason Evans Excavation, this fall, to do  major repairs to the large, deep washouts on the trail access from Fox Farm Road.  He also fixed some smaller washouts along the trail under the power lines and added gravel to widen and improve the trail surface there.

Other accomplishments in 2018:

  • Two productive volunteer trail work days in the spring and the fall.
  • Recent receipt of a permit from the Town of Dummerston to reconstruct the kiosk at the Rice Farm Road trail head. The kiosk will be set in place next spring.
  • With funds from a USDA grant, we hired Long View Forest to treat the invasives on the Riverstone Preserve this fall.  90% of the buckthorn, barberry, multi-flora rose, oriental bittersweet and japanese knotweed was eradicated. The black swallow wort will be treated next spring/summer and we will receive more USDA funds to do follow up treatment in 2020.
  • Jeff Nugent, of the Windham Regional Commission, updated the trail map, which will be found at the trail heads and around the community soon.  (Printing generously donated by C&S Wholesale Grocers).

Your year-end gift will help us to continue our work on:

  • Repair and maintenance of the trail surface and drainage culverts
  • Control of invasive species in the Riverstone Preserve
  • Protection of rare and endangered species along the trail
  • Extension of the trail to the downtown Brattleboro railroad station, and south from there to the old railroad bridge that connects to a large network of New Hampshire trails
  • Potential acquisition of additional land adjacent to the trail
  • Creating and printing a map of the Riverstone Preserve Trails
  • Promotion of trail usage through distribution of maps as well as through our website and Facebook page
  • Amenities, such as benches along the trail, a picnic table near the I-91 bridge, and a shelter on the Riverstone Preserve

If you have not visited the trail recently, please do!  The trail is seeing more and more usage, year-round, by hikers, runners, cyclists, skiers and snowshoers.

If you love the West River Trail and want to see it continue to be protected, improved and even extended, please support the Friends of the West River Trail with a generous donation. Click here to make a secure online donation. If you prefer to donate by check, please feel free to contact us at:
West River Trail, Lower Section, 138 Elliot St, Suite 3, Brattleboro, Vermont 05301.

Thank you! 

With all best wishes,

FRIENDS OF THE WEST RIVER TRAIL

Lower Section steering committee:

  • Lester Humphreys (chair)
  • Jason Cooper
  • Niko Malkovich
  • Matt Mann
  • Malcolm Moore
  • Kathleen White
  • Alex Wilson

Fundraising committee:

  • Orly Munzing
  • Brett Morrison
  • Marcia Steckler
  • Tom Yahn

Successful Trail Work Day, October 20, on the Lower Section of the West River Trail!

west-river-trail-nov-2018 - 1Charlie, Jennifer, Sue, Jason and Malcolm, our enthusiastic trail crew for the day, got a lot accomplished. They planted a post for the chain at the Rice Farm Road Trailhead and cleared the area for the new kiosk (for which we recently received approval from the Dummerston DRB!) Grass was trimmed and overgrown brush was pruned back a mile along the trail from each end. Drainage ditches and culverts were raked out, leaving the trail in good shape! A big thank you to our volunteers!