Monthly Archives: December 2017

End of Semester Observations



35 degrees Fahrenheit

As fall draws to a close and winter begins, salmon hole was devoid of green.  The landscape seemed hollow, empty somehow with its dense underbrush leafless and bare leaving the sandy shore exposed.  A small amount of the mornings snow remained leaving a sprinkling on some services.  The river had swollen considerably since my last visit with places on the bank I had previously walked over underwater.

The beavers working the area had made plenty of progress since my last visit.  Their mark was left on quite a few trees along the bank.

I also heard the hammering of a hairy woodpecker.  He let me get pretty close but I couldn’t get a good picture.  It was funny to see him hopping up and down the branches.

Several young trees bore new frost cracks on their south facing side.  This is due to the fluctuating temperatures of late and the stress that places on the wood of the trees.  The water within rapidly expands and contracts, and exploits impurities in the bark.

Human History

The salmon hole along the Winooski has an interesting human land use history.  It received its name from the “spawning salmon that gather in the swirling pool below the Winooski one hydro dam” (  The dam that provides this ideal spot for a wide variety of fish has a rich history.

The River was first damed here by Ira Allen in 1786.  He created an important saw mill, and the spot remained of value to the Vermont lumber industry well into the 1800s.  The land was then won in a court case by a relative of Ira, who began grist mill in 1812.

Throughout the 1800s the mill was home to many industries, which experienced dynamic change as new markets were formed.  It was the perfect place for a mill, as the river provided transportation and hydro power, and the rail road was not far. Grist, textiles, paper, lumber, and oil were all processed on the site.

The mill experienced frequent fire and flooding.  The only ruin of this past production powerhouse is small part of the Cotton mill that extends into the river just beyond the bridge. (

Aside from the dam, the Abenaki people farmed along the banks of the river.  The soil was extremely fertile, and they cleared small areas to farm maize.  The river is so named for the wild onions that grew along its banks. (

The area is now a popular site for fishing in both the spring and fall, as it is a popular spawning site for a multitude of species.  However, it is closed to anglers between March 15 and June 1 to protect the endangered sturgeon.