A portion of the West River Trail was closed for a day on June 16. Unfortunately, we need to close that portion again (weather permitting) on Thursday June 25, to wrap up the work that was started on June 16.
FWRT has been contracting with Longview Forest to treat invasives on the Riverstone Preserve, a 26 acre parcel of land between the river and the trail. The closure will affect that portion of the WRT, plus the side trail that loops through the preserve.
Signs will be posted at the trailheads to inform the public.
The Riverstone Preserve area of the trail will reopen on Friday, June 26. We apologize for the inconvenience.
As you may know, FWRT has been contracting with Longview Forest to treat woody invasives on the Riverstone Preserve adjacent to the West River Trail (between the trail and the river). Access to the Riverstone Preserve will be off limits on Tuesday, June 16, because a follow up treatment will be occurring (weather permitting). Off limits will be the section of the WRT that goes through the Riverstone Preserve, as well as the smaller trail that loops around the preserve. Signs will be hanging at the trailheads to inform the public. The Riverstone Preserve will re-open on Wednesday, June 17. We apologize for the inconvenience!
If you’ve been out on the trail lately, you may have noticed some beautiful new handcrafted benches at the I-91 Bridge to Nature viewing platform.
The benches were made by Steve Shriner and Tom Bodett at the HatchSpace. The seat planks are laminated wood, made by Bensonwood (left over from another project), and donated by the HatchSpace. Tom made the bases for each bench and Steve put them together. Steve and Jason Cooper transported them to the trail and installed them on Sunday, March 22. Huge thanks to the HatchSpace, Bensonwood, Tom, Steve, and Jason. The benches are beautiful! Thanks to Alex Wilson for the photos.
We invite all trail users to take a moment to rest and enjoy the scenery from the new benches!
Other improvements along the West River Trail include a bike rack and additional signage.
Please follow safe social distancing recommendations. Enjoy the trail!
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
– Rachel Carson
For those seeking “social distancing” the way that Henry David Thoreau described it — a silent communion with the woods — Southern Vermont offers many places for a walk, a ramble or a hike.
The West River Trail was featured in a recent Manchester Journal article by Greg Sukiennik, about places to find quiet, natural beauty in Southern Vermont. Read the Full article in the Manchester Journal. Photo courtesy of Kris Radder, Brattleboro Reformer via the Manchester Journal.
The West River Trail: The former railbed of the misbegotten West River Railroad is currently split into two trail sections, with future plans to connect them into a single 36-mile trail. The lower section stretches from The Marina in Brattleboro to the old quarry on Rice Farm Rd in Dummerston. The upper section stretches from the former South Londonderry train depot to Townshend Dam, with several parking lots along the way, and is home to the annual West River Trail Run, scheduled for June.
Enjoy the trail! Be safe, be well, and embrace nature and the outdoors.
The Friends of the West River Trail (FWRT) Lower Section Steering Committee has a rewarding volunteer opening for someone who can help organize and file the papers documenting the work of making the West River Trail accessible to all.
Do you have a special interest or skill in organizing files/papers? Do you love nature trails? Would you like to help organize and document the work of a local non-profit? Do you have a little extra time in your schedule to help support the West River Trail?
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are that special someone. We look forward to hearing from you!
Or maybe you know of someone else who may be interested? If so, please share this announcement with them. Thank you!
About the FWRT:
Organized in 1992, the Friends of the West River Trail (FWRT) is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to the establishment of a 36-mile scenic trail through the West River Valley – eventually linking Brattleboro, Dummerston, Newfane, Townshend, Jamaica and South Londonderry.
The FWRT’s mission is to:
Develop and maintain a publicly accessible system of paths along the West River corridor for educational, recreational and alternative transportation purposes.
Promote public awareness and enjoyment of the recreational path system and of the history, geology and biota of the West River valley.
Coordinate local, state and federal interests in planning, funding, construction, management and use of the trail system.
The West River Trail has a beautiful new sign at the Rice Farm Road trailhead.
Gratitude and huge thanks go out to Jason Cooper, Mark Westa, Steve Shriner, Malcolm Moore, and Howard Printing.
* Jason Cooper and Mark Westa put the posts in the ground last fall.
* Steve Shriner crafted and painted the signs.
* Malcolm Moore and Steve Shriner attached the signs to the posts.
* Howard Printing, enlarged and printed the map for half the cost, as a donation-in-kind.
Stop by to check out the new sign and enjoy an early spring walk on the trail!
Please consider supporting the West River Trail on Giving Tuesday and in your end of year giving. With your support, we can continue to maintain and enhance the Trail for our local and visitor community.
People make trails. Take a walk down the West River Trail and you will see a cross section of our community. Couples strolling hand in hand, kids on their first bike ride, runners preparing for their first marathon, and awestruck out-of-state visitors getting a closeup view of the I-91 bridge. The West River Trail continues to flourish and has become a local destination.
The support of the trail has come about in large part because of the efforts of a dedicated group of volunteers. The Friends of the West River Trail ensures that the trail is maintained by trimming and repairing the trailbed, contracting for invasives control, and providing signage and maps to spread the word about this important community asset. We work to grow the trail, with possible land acquisitions and extensions of the trail.
With your support, we look to continue this work in several ways over the coming year:
- Ongoing improvement of the West River trail. Over the coming year this will include the new sign on Rice Farm Road, benches, picnic tables and interpretive signs in the Riverstone Preserve. We also will continue our efforts at invasives control and drainage improvement.
- Partner with other trail networks with the goal of providing continuous trail access throughout Brattleboro. We have worked over the past year on a vision for connected trail networks. We strive to work with other trail organizations to create a trail network to provide not only recreational opportunities, but realistic modes of transportation to help our region lessen its dependence on automobiles, reducing contributions to climate change. A network of safe, functional, connected pathways is key to this vision.
- Continuation of the trail from the West River south to the unused rail bridge crossing the Connecticut river just south of downtown. We are now working to understand the various rights of way needed and any legal obstacles to making this a reality.
We would appreciate your support of these efforts though a year end gift. Click on the link to donate online or mail a donation to: West River Trail, Lower Section, 138 Elliot St, Suite 3, Brattleboro, Vermont 05301.
Best wishes from the Trail, with thanks for considering a gift to the West River Trail.
FRIENDS OF THE WEST RIVER TRAIL
Lower Section steering committee:
Lester Humphreys (chair)
The West River Trail is a trail for all seasons. In late autumn, with the leaves down, there is so much beauty to see along the trail.
With thanks to Lynn Levine for the photos.
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.