The Deerfield River  (Vermont)
by Ryan Hutchings

The Deerfield River in Vermont is one of the heaviest
dammed rivers in the United States.

Although the river has actually been changed throughout recent history, it
amazingly remains 78% naturally forested, and only 3% urbanized.

A great mix of local business, commerce and natural scenery spot the rivers edges
and make for a unique travel destination.

Deerfield River Geography

The Deerfield River is located in Vermont and Massachusetts on the East Coast of
the United States.

The Deerfield River starts in Vermont, where it then flows through the state into
Massachusetts, eventually joining with the Connecticut River. In all, the Deerfield
River flows for 73 miles (649.7 total miles including streams of its complete
watershed) from its head source in Vermont until it meets with the Connecticut.

During this route, it drops about 2000 feet, starting at about 2800 feet above sea
level all the way down to about 120 feet above sea level.

One of the most distinguishing facts of the Deerfield River is the many dams
throughout the 73 mile length of the river.

On average, there is a dam about every 7 miles on the river, making the Deerfield
one of the most heavily used rivers (for electrical power purposes) in the nation.

There are 10 dams in total on the Deerfield River, and they are all owned by three
different utility companies. All the dams are primarily used for generating
hydroelectric power that many of the towns and cities in the surrounding areas
rely on for power.

The natural river flow of the Deerfield has therefore been changed since the
introduction of all of the dams. The dams help control foods in the basin regions
and augment flow in the Deerfield River during low-flow periods. Many
Deerfield River rafting outfitters and recreational facilities rely on a constant flow
of water for their business survival.

The watershed for the Deerfield river ranges from Stratton Mountain in Southern
Vermont all the way to Greenfield in Massachusetts. In total, the drainage area for
the Deerfield and its streams is about 655 square miles.

There are 49 lakes that come from the Deerfield watershed, and 649.7 river and
stream miles in total from the river. The major tributaries of the Deerfield are the
North, South East and West Branches in Vermont, the Cold, Checkley, Bear, South
and Green Rivers in Massachusetts. The river is home to native and stocked trout
and also Atlantic salmon.

Deerfield River History

The Deerfield River was named after the town Deerfield, MA in Franklin County.
Originally, the area was inhabited by the Pocumtuck nation, with a village by the
same name as the town.

European colonists settled the town in 1673 and later named it Deerfield,
incorporating the town in 1677. Disputes between the local natives, revolutionary
war and other problems lasted through the next time period, eventually calming
down and becoming a popular town for incoming immigrants.

The first dam was built on the river in 1910 when the New England Power
Company formed to acquire the water rights to the Deerfield River. The largest
dam on the whole river was built not too long after, in 1920.

Since then, a total of 19 dams have been built on the river. The last dam was
finished in the 1970's. Since then, the dams have controlled the flow of the water
through the whole river, making the river a very popular destination for tourists
and wildlife enthusiasts.

Deerfield River Rafting and Recreation

The most popular activities on the Deerfield River are whitewater rafting,
camping and hiking. Because of the steep descent of the river, there are plenty of
short tributaries and sections of the river the offer excellent class IV - V
whitewater rafting trips.

Kayaking is also popular on the sections of the Deerfield River as well as the
many side tributaries and large streams that stem from the river.

Fishing is also another recreational activity, with great trout and fly fishing
opportunities. Atlantic salmon is also found in parts of the river.

About the Author: Ryan Hutchings is the Executive Director for the leading organization of
white water rafting outfitters across North America,
Rafting America. He has extensive
involvement with outfitters and the river rafting industry across the US, Canada and South
America. Ryan specializes in internet marketing and online business strategy
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