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Old 01-19-2007, 04:22 PM
Location: Vermont
1,442 posts, read 5,898,152 times
Reputation: 450


What is the "Retreat Meadows" in Brattleboro. It is not a lake, although I have read it described as "lake-like".

But what is it? The overflow after a flood that flooded a meadow?

How deep is it? A friend in Brattleboro told me it's shallow, but how shallow? Can you walk in it without the water going over your head?

I know people skate, ice-fish and kayak in it, but do people swim in it in the summer?

Any champs in it?
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Old 01-20-2007, 08:18 PM
Location: Vermont
1,442 posts, read 5,898,152 times
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Well, no one has responded to my post, but I found a map and saw that the Retreat Meadows is attached to the West River, like a hernia. So I am satisfied that it is a legitimate body of water and not just a pond.

I had been wondering how people could ice-fish with their shacks on a little pond.

Maybe it was a flooded meadow that stayed flooded because of the hilly terrain. I can't find anything on the web, so far, about the geology and geography of it.

I'm wondering about that, about how deep it is and if people swim in it in the summer. I know there is a swimming hole or two in the area, but I'm wondering if the Retreat Meadows is also used for swimming.

And why is it called "meadows"? Is it because it is a drowned meadow, or is the name a historical artifact of something?

Last edited by arel; 01-20-2007 at 08:48 PM..
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Old 01-21-2007, 09:44 PM
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
17,751 posts, read 53,902,796 times
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The Brattleboro Retreat was considered the "high class" mental institution in the state. Dunno about Brattleboro, but during the 1920s to 1960s the state hospital in Waterbury had an active farm as part of the facilities. One of the fields in town was known as the hospital hayfield. I'd guess that "Retreat Meadows" was similar - perhaps floodplain that was wet part of the year and dry in midsummer and autumn. I also wouldn't rule out that it was a shallow lake called that as twisted Vermont humor. In any event, looking at terraserver it is obvious that the West River silted up, and created a channel into the area. Might be good for fishing, although the terraserver photos don't show any seaweed.
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Old 01-22-2007, 03:45 AM
Location: Vermont
1,442 posts, read 5,898,152 times
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I am familiar with the Retreat. There are local issues regarding the farm, which it does, or did, have.

But I don't know if the "Retreat Meadows" is a flooded meadow, a flood plain that didn't drain or whatever. I do not know the extent to which it is natural and that to which it is manmade. I do know, from looking at a map, that it is connected to the West River, so it is not a stagnant pond. I do know that the fishing is considered good there, which suggests that it is a vital body of water, and I have been told that it is shallow.

I have read that people kayak there, and also that the West River is considered great for kayaking. I have also read that there are parts of the Connecticut River and the West River that are safe for swimming. I have always been leery of rivers for boating and swimming because of the current.

I love the idea that there is a usable body of water right in town. I'm just curious as to what it is.

I'm sure it is cleaner than New York City's waterways. I went kayaking on Jamaica Bay. There is a problem with raw sewage being dumped in, but I am told things are getting better. I'm told that people actually practice capsize training in the bay now.

By the way, I know there is a Brattleboro Outing Club, but does anyone know if there is a boating club that gives formal training? We have one in New York, the Sebago Canoe Club, that not only does outings, but also formal boating training. They use Jamaica Bay and also Lake Sebago north of the city, I think in Rockland County.
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Old 02-02-2007, 07:45 AM
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Yes, it is a flooded meadow. The water is shallow (2 ft) throughout most of it till it reaches the rivers edge. I would not swim there. Go up the river (rt. 30n) a couple miles where the water isn't sitting. It's not as mucky. Everything that comes down the river seems to get stuck in the Meadows.
As long as it hasn't rained a lot the current won't be bad and never swim a lone. You'll see swiming areas on your right with parked cars.
Fishing is good in the Meadows, espeshially ice fishing.
Across the river from the Meadows is a marina that rents out boats and across the street from that is a place you can rent canoes and kayaks and I'm sure they have lessons too.
Also the Marina restaraunt is really yummy and has beautiful sunsets. Let me know if it you have any other questions. I live in Brattleboro.
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Old 02-02-2007, 08:22 AM
Location: Vermont
1,442 posts, read 5,898,152 times
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I had lunch at the Marina last June, when I came up for the Strolling of the Heiffers. I was supposed to meet a professional contact there but he got the message too late, which he attributed to poor cell phone service. I stayed and ate by myself and, yes, the food was yummy. Pricey, though. But the setting was very pretty. The only problem was that there was a bee flying around by my table and I chose to move inside.

I had heard the Meadows was shallow, but 2 feet? If you capsize in your kayak you just have to reach out and touch the bottom to right yourself. Or you can exit your kayak and drain it while you simply stand in the water. Sounds good for practicing entrances and exits. Whatever muck is there cannot compare with the raw sewage in the basin I've used near Jamaica Bay in Brooklyn.

I may drive up to Brattleboro today. That's the plan. I would have left early this morning, but I was concerned about a forecasted snow storm in NYC and slippery roads up. Well, I'm still a flatlander. I know, I know. If I can't handle winter driving I shouldn't consider moving to Vermont. But a 5 hour drive is too long to be worried about skidding. I can drive in snow without too much stress. Icy roads, of course, are another matter.

But the storm didn't happen and I'm getting ready to go up. I want to get there while it is still light out, so I can see the scenery. Seeing the road also helps, as the lighting is not great on I-91. I'm a little concerned about the return trip, though. I think snow is forecasted for Monday, although so far only flurries are predicted.

Thanks so much for your offer of help
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