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Northeast Kingdom

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Title: Northeast Kingdom  
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Subject: St. Johnsbury, Vermont, Caledonia County, Vermont, Vermont, Scudder Parker, Great North Woods
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Northeast Kingdom

The Northeast Kingdom is the northeast corner of the Governor of Vermont and a U.S. senator, who first used the term in a 1949 speech. The area is often referred to by Vermonters simply as "The Kingdom".

Panoramic view of Willoughby Notch and Mount Pisgah


  • Geography 1
    • Geology 1.1
    • Fauna 1.2
    • Climate 1.3
  • History 2
    • Early human history 2.1
    • Modern history 2.2
  • Demographics 3
  • Government 4
  • Public health 5
  • Economy 6
    • Farming 6.1
    • Tourism 6.2
    • NGOs 6.3
  • Infrastructure 7
    • Railroads 7.1
    • Bus 7.2
    • Airports 7.3
    • Solid waste disposal 7.4
  • Media 8
    • Newspapers 8.1
    • Radio 8.2
    • Television 8.3
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


The Northeast Kingdom is bordered on the east by the Connecticut River and on the west by the Green Mountains. The highest point is Jay Peak, a summit on the main ridge of the Green Mountains, at 3,858 feet (1,176 m).[1] The highest point outside of the Green Mountains is East Mountain in East Haven, with a summit elevation of 3,439 feet (1,048 m).[2]

The Kingdom encompasses 55 towns and gores, with a land area of 2,027 square miles (5,250 km2), about 21% of the state of Vermont.[3] The city of Newport is the only incorporated city in the tri-county area.

As of 1997, 80% of the Northeast Kingdom was covered by forest;[4] 59% was northern hardwood, 29% spruce or fir.

The Northeast Kingdom has been listed in the North American and international editions of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, the New York Times best-selling book by Patricia Schultz. In 2006, the National Geographic Society named the Northeast Kingdom as the most desirable place to visit in the country and the ninth most desirable place to visit in the world.[5]

The largest municipalities in the Northeast Kingdom are the towns of St. Johnsbury (population 7,603), Lyndon (5,981), and Derby (4,621), and the city of Newport (4,589).[6]


The presence of kame terraces in the counties are of interest in connection with the glacial drift that gave the Northeast Kingdom its soil and its surface stones and boulders. These terraces have beds of sand and clay from which bricks were once manufactured.[7]

Two land masses collided at the end of the Ordovician Period about 466 million years ago. This collision first formed what are now the Green Mountains which extend into the westernmost part of the Northeast Kingdom.[8] It also created great pressure within the earth, resulting in active volcanoes. The resultant eruptions produced igneous rock which became the granite found in many of the region's mountains and in the Connecticut River Valley.[9]

The remaining geology was created during the Silurian-Devonian Period, about 400 million years ago, and left behind slate, with some granite, schist, and limestone.[10][11]

An expansion of the polar glaciers resulted in an ice age which greatly affected the geology. A 1-mile-thick (1,600 m) sheet of ice covered the Kingdom several times, over one million years, until 13,500 years ago.[12] It brought the many boulders seen in the area and created many prominent features, including Lake Memphremagog, Lake Willoughby, and Crystal Lake.[13]

The retreat of the Laurentide glacier allowed the Green Mountains again to arise, but much eroded.[14] A saltwater incursion resulting in the Champlain Sea from the Atlantic Ocean covered much of Vermont including what is now Lake Memphremagog. This incursion stopped 11,000 years ago and became fresh water. Forests later appeared after the water receded.


In 1996, the moose population totalled 2,000, about 1.75/mi² (0.676/km²). In 2005, the population was 5,000; 3.4/mi² (1.313/km²). State officials determined that the herd had become stressed due to overpopulation, and that the 1996 figure was more desirable. As a result, 1,260 hunting permits were issued in 2008 to cull the herd.[15] In 2009, state officials aimed for 1 moose per 1 square mile (2.6 km2).[16]

There are also black bear, deer, bobcat, coyote, fox, fisher cat, loon, wild turkey, and ruffed grouse.

In 2013, Canadian lynxes were spotted. These prey on the snowshoe hare.[17]

Martens, extinct in Vermont by the early 20th century, have found their way back to the Northeast Kingdom in small groups in the 21st century from New Hampshire or Canada.[18]

The Virginia opossum moved into the area in the 1950s.[19]


The average growing season is about 123-130 frost-free days.[20]

On December 30, 1933, the lowest recorded temperature in the New England states was registered as −50.8 °F (−46.0 °C), at Bloomfield in Essex County.[21][22]

The 2007 Valentine's Day Blizzard brought 21.1 inches (540 mm) to the area over a two-day period. This was nearly matched on March 6, 2011, when the area received 20.3 inches (520 mm) of snow.[23]

Second only to the Champlain Valley, the Kingdom is part of Northern Vermont that is the cloudiest in the nation.[24]


Early human history

The retreating glacier allowed the northern migration of early humans around 9300 BCE, descendants of Asian immigrants during the Ice Age. By 7300 BCE, people and a changing environment had eliminated large game from the area such as caribou and mastodons.[25]

From 1000 BCE to 1600 CE, Abenakis inhabited the Kingdom.[25]

Perhaps as many as a thousand Cowasuck Indians lived in Essex County near the Connecticut River in 1500. This tribe included all people from the Cahass, Cohassiac, Coos, Coosuc, and Koes tribes.[26] The Cowasucks were Abenakis, members of the Wabanaki Confederacy, the Algonquian pact of five tribes which banded together to combat Iroquois aggression perhaps about 1500, though the exact date of the Iroquois pact is unknown.[27][28]

European diseases, such as typhus, contracted from exposure to traders, killed many of the Cowasucks until only a few hundred were left in the Northeast Kingdom by 1600.[29]

Modern history

Patent medicines were popular in the late 19th century.[30]

In 2010, Yankee magazine named the NEK the second favorite romantic getaway and the third favorite family getaway in New England.[31]

In 2015, the license of radio station WAOT-LP, 98.3 FM, Derby, was cancelled. It had been licensed to the Vermont Department of Transportation for travelers' information.


In all three counties, estimated population dropped between 2010 and 2012 by about 200 people. State population declined slightly as well.[32]


As in the rest of New England, there is a strong state government. Town government often uses unpaid volunteers for its services. There is a superficial county government, all funded by the state. The three counties each have sheriffs, judges, prosecutors, and other officers, all, except for judges, elected by the county, but funded by the state.

Recognizing the need for services on an intermediate level, state legislation created the Regional Planning Commissions (RPC), to aid the towns in land use issues, and Economic Development Commissions (EDC), tasked with fostering economic development in their jurisdictions. These RPCs and EDCs report to the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development. They must also report to their boards, which are made up of representatives of each town in the commission. As with some state agencies there is provision for these commissions to also organize as nonprofit groups, yet still maintain status as government agencies. This method of organization permits RPCs and EDCs to augment their state and federal funding with other sources of income. This arrangement also allows the EDCs to own properties such as industrial parks and Business Incubator Facilities.

RPCs and EDCs have no taxing or regulatory authority. However, RPCs do write a regional plan (as towns can have town plans). Town plans can not run contrary to the regional plans. RPCs also have automatic party status to any ACT 250 applications. ACT 250 permits are the state's Land Use Permit issued by the Land Use Panel of the Vermont Natural Resources Board. ACT 250 applications must be in compliance with the RPC's Regional Plan. A copy of all ACT 250 permit applications must be submitted (by the applicants) to the RPCs for review.

The Northeast Kingdom is unique, as they have the only agency that is both the Economic Development Commission as well as the Regional Planning Commission, known as the Northeastern Vermont Development Association and Regional Planning Commission (NVDA). Under the legislators' study to lower state government spending, they have been looking to the Northeast Kingdom's RPC/EDC as a model for possible consolidation of agencies throughout the state.

Municipalities are governed by an elected Board of Selectmen and managed by an elected town or city clerk.

Public health

Various organizations are tasked with aiding public health including the Northeast Kingdom Human Services.



In 2010 the largest dairy farmer in the state was in Orleans County with 5,000 head and 2,500 milkers, spread over five farms.[33]

Maple syrup is produced in the region.[34]


The area offers mountain biking,[35] skiing,[36][37] and fall foliage viewing.[38]


There are a number of non-profit, non-governmental agencies, that either offer services or promote business or housing. These include the Northern Community Investment Corporation, based in St. Johnsbury, and Rural Edge,[39] formerly known as the Gilman Housing Trust.[40]


The "Iron Bridge" in Brighton, just north of the village of Island Pond

In 2008, 74% of the roads were rated in poor or very poor condition. There were 480 bridges with spans of 20 feet (6.1 m) or more. There were a number of bridges deemed structurally deficient. 63 percent of those were municipally owned.[41]


Two railroads traverse the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont:


Rural Community Transportation runs out of Saint Johnsbury and serves Caledonia, Essex, Lamoille and Orleans counties.


There are three state airports: Caledonia County State Airport in Lyndonville; Newport State Airport in Newport/Coventry, and John H. Boylan State Airport in Island Pond. Light private and business aircraft land there.

Solid waste disposal

The Northeast Kingdom Waste Management District is in charge of implementing Vermont's Act 148, initiating mandatory recycling. In 2014, the NEK recycled about 20%, low for the state which averages 30–36%. An average citizen here produces 2 pounds (0.91 kg) of trash per person per day, compared to 3 pounds (1.4 kg) for the rest of the state.[43]


Author Howard Frank Mosher has written works of fiction set in the Northeast Kingdom, typically in the fictitious Kingdom County.

Archer Mayor's second "Joe Gunther" novel, Borderlines, is set in the fictitious village of Gannet, in Essex County.

The literary suspense novels of author Don Bredes are set in the fictional Northeast Kingdom village of Tipton, just south of the Quebec border.

Peacham was used as the filming location for the 1993 movie Ethan Frome, based on the novel of the same name.[44]

Robert Frost wrote a poem with the Kingdom as its topic entitled "A Servant to Servants".[45]





The Northeast Kingdom is part of the television market. However, the use of cable and satellite to view television in the region is essential in many areas, due to the mountainous terrain between the region and most of the market's main television transmitters, many of them broadcasting from Mount Mansfield.

Many areas of the Northeast Kingdom receive cable television from either Comcast or Charter.

  • UHF Channel 20, WVTB (PBS), St. Johnsbury, Vermont PBS
  • Channel 14 W14CK Newport (programming unknown, last known as a rebroadcast of WWBI-LP)
  • Cable Channel 7, KATV, Kingdom Access Television, Lyndonville, Public-access television cable TV

See also


  1. ^ Various Vermont Mountains
  2. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Seneca Mountain, Vermont 7½-minute quadrangle, 1988
  3. ^ [4]
  4. ^ [5]
  5. ^ "The National Geographic Society Press Room". Northeast Kingdom Geotourism Mapguide Debuts at Vermont Travel Industry Conference. Retrieved 2006-12-22. 
  6. ^ United States 2010 census. American Factfinder.
  7. ^ Child, Hamilton. (May 1887). Gazetteer of Lamoille and Orleans Counties, VT.; 1883-1884. Hamilton Child. 
  8. ^ "Shelburne Geology". Geologic history of the Champlain Valley. Retrieved 2006-12-24. 
  9. ^ "Digital Commons - Middlebury". Depth Constraints on the Origins of Northeast Kingdom Granites, Vermont. Retrieved 2006-12-28. 
  10. ^ "About Geology". Generalized Geologic Map of Vermont. Retrieved 2006-12-24. 
  11. ^ "Geological Society of American Conference". Ordovician Sedimentary Breccia and Magnetite-Coticule Metasiltstone, Northeast Kingdom, Vermont. Retrieved 2006-12-24. 
  12. ^ "The University of Vermont". A Brief History and Overview of Vermont's Physical Landscape. Retrieved 2006-12-24. 
  13. ^ "America's Volcanic Past". Crystal Lake. Retrieved 2006-12-24. 
  14. ^ "The Mountains of Vermont". The Green Mountains. Retrieved 2006-12-24. 
  15. ^ Rathke, Lisa (October 17, 2008). State hopes moose season culls herd. Burlington Free Press. 
  16. ^ Richard Creaser (2009-10-28). "Cow are giving birth to fewer offspring". the chronicle. Chris and Ellen Braithwaite. p. 13. 
  17. ^ Lefebvre, Paul (January 8, 2014). "Lynx is elusive target of biologists' study". The Chronicle (Barton, Vermont). pp. 1A, 26A, 27A. 
  18. ^ Vermont Fish and Wildlife (March 19, 2014). "Marten population grows despite past extinction". The Chronicle (Barton, Vermont). pp. 19A. 
  19. ^ Vezina, Kendrick (March 19, 2014). "Live weird, die young: The Virginia opossum". The Chronicle (Barton, Vermont). pp. 23A. 
  20. ^ Draft Environmental Assessment retrieved May 28, 2008
  21. ^ This was tied by Black River, Maine in 2009.
  22. ^ Adams, Glenn (February 11, 2009). Maine ties Vt. for record low temperature. Burlington Free Press. 
  23. ^ Starr, Tena (March 9, 2011). "Snowfall brought area to a halt".  
  24. ^ Maleski, Steve (May 21, 2014). "Why is it sunnier in southern Vermont". The Chronicle (Barton, Vermont). pp. 7A. 
  25. ^ a b "The Flow of History". Native Americans in Vermont. Retrieved 2006-12-24. 
  26. ^ "First Nations Histories". Abenaki History. Retrieved 2006-12-02. 
  27. ^ "Native Languages". Wabanki Confederacy. Retrieved 2006-12-24. 
  28. ^ "Native Languages". Iroquois Confederacy. Retrieved 2006-12-24. 
  29. ^ "Manataka American Indian Council". Abenaki History Part I. Retrieved 2006-12-24. 
  30. ^ Metraux, Daniel A. (June 2015). "Medical Care on the Vermont Frontier". Vermont's Northland Journal 14 (3): 22. 
  31. ^ "NEK establishments listed in Yankee's best of NE awards". Barton, Vermont: the Chronicle. 3 February 2010. p. 7. 
  32. ^ Starr, Tena (May 15, 2013). "NEK population drops slightly, census estimates".  
  33. ^ Page, Candace (20 June 2010). "Potent Alliance". Burlington, Vermont: Burlington Free Press. pp. 1A, 4A. 
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^ "Rural Edge". 
  40. ^ The Chronicle, June 3, 2009, page 27, "Economic development debated in Barton"
  41. ^ Creaser, Richard (October 22, 2008). State transportation money is based on traffic. the Chronicle. 
  42. ^ [6]
  43. ^ Creaser, Richard (June 4, 2014). "Tomasi explains effects of mandatory recycling law". The Chronicle (Barton, Vermont). pp. 3A. 
  44. ^ New York Times accessed February 1, 2008
  45. ^ New York Times retrieved June 29, 2008
  46. ^ List of Vermont Radio Stations
  47. ^ MOO 92 retrieved on May 13, 2007
  48. ^ VPR (October 28, 2008). VPR Classical broadcasts from I.P. the Chronicle. 

External links

  • Vermont railroads
  • Current Weather Conditions from the NEK - Northeast Kingdom Weather

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