Connecticut River, the largest river of New England, has its sources in the highlands on the borders of New Hampshire and Canada, and after a general southerly course falls into Long Island sound at Saybrook, Conn., in lat. 41° 16' 15" N., and lon. 72° 21' W. It was called by the Indians Quonektacat, signifying Long river, and has always been noted for its beauty. It rises by two head streams near the N. boundary of Coos co., N. H., 1,600 ft. above the sea, flows within a few miles through Second and Connecticut lakes, and receives several small tributaries, one of which separates New Hampshire from Canada on the west. From Connecticut lake it flows W. and S. W. to a point near the N. E. angle of Vermont, whence it forms the boundary line between that state and New Hampshire, flowing generally S. S. W. It afterward flows S. across the W. part of Massachusetts and through the centre of Connecticut to Middletown, where it turns S. E. and flows to the sound. The length of the river is more than 400 m.
Its width at the N. boundary of Vermont is about 150 ft., which increases to about 390 ft. within 60 m., and varies from 450 to 1,050 ft. in Massachusetts and Connecticut. The Connecticut is navigable to Middletown, 30 m., for vessels of 10 ft, draught, and to Hartford, 50 m., for those drawing 8 ft. There are numerous falls in the river, the chief of which are the Fifteen-mile falls in New Hampshire and Vermont, the White river falls below Hanover, Bellows Falls, those at Montague and South Hadley in Massachusetts, and at Enfield in Connecticut. These falls afford abundant water power. By means of canals around them, the river has been made navigable for boats of 8 or 10 tons burden as far as Newbury, near the mouth of Wells river in Vermont, 270 m. from the sound. The principal tributaries of the Connecticut are: from the west, the Passumpsic, Wells, White, and Williams in Vermont, the Deerfield and West-field in Massachusetts, and the Farmington in Connecticut; from the east, the Ammonoosuck in New Hampshire, and Miller's and Chicopee in Massachusetts. Above Hartford the Connecticut is spanned by numerous bridges. Great efforts have been made recently for the artificial propagation of shad and salmon in the Connecticut river, where they formerly abounded.
As a result, numerous shad have been caught, but the experiment has proved less successful in regard to salmon. The Connecticut valley is about 300 m. long, with an average width of 40 m.; it contains valuable agricultural lands and much highly attractive scenery.