The mighty Connecticut River weaves its way through the New England region of the United States, passing through Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and – perhaps unsurprisingly – Connecticut. In addition to the spellbinding beauty of the water itself, the river has written a complex story of history and culture in its valley. That is why the Federal Highway Administration officially recognized the series of roads along the river’s course as a national scenic byway.
There are a lot of different ways you can experience the Connecticut River by the road. Nearly 500 miles have been qualified as part of the scenic byway, but for simplicity’s sake I’ve highlighted the most straightforward route above. There are all sorts of small towns along the way with various historical sites of intrigue. What speaks to me the most, though, is the railroad history. The railroads between Montreal, New York City, and Boston helped develop the Connecticut River watershed. Not only could manufacturers and traders do business faster, but urban life became viable well outside of the confines of the big cities.
Railroad development really started to take off in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and you can tell by the way the towns look when you drive past them on the byway. This put the towns of Brattleboro, Bellows Falls, Claremont, Windsor, and White River Junction on the map. It’s not just the towns, though, you can tell how the Connecticut Valley developed by the roads themselves, which have dozens of covered bridges. You don’t see those all that often! There was a small window of time in which covered bridges were in vogue that just so happens to line up with when the Valley was developed.
Has this piqued your interest? If you’re hoping to take a New England tour this summer, check out this site – it’s entirely dedicated the Connecticut River Byway.