The Northeast Kingdom is the northeast corner of the U.S. state of Vermont, comprising Essex, Orleans and Caledonia counties and having a population at the 2010 census of 64,764. In Vermont, the written term "NEK" is often used. The term "Northeast Kingdom" is attributed to George D. Aiken, former 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." Because of its three-county extent, it includes several "gateway" towns: at the southeastern corner, St. Johnsbury, just a few miles from the New Hampshire border; to the north, Newport and Derby, close to the Canada–US border; and to the southwest, Hardwick and Danville. Interstate 91, Interstate 93, and U.S. Route 2 connect travelers to the Northeast Kingdom.
- 1 Geography
- 2 History
- 3 Demographics
- 4 Government
- 5 Public health
- 6 Economy
- 7 Infrastructure
- 8 Media
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
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). 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).
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. The city of Newport is the only incorporated city in the tri-county area.
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.
Although Vermont is known as the Green Mountain State, the Northeast Kingdom lies outside that geological formation and is based on a set of long-ago volcanic islands, compressed during collision with the Taconic orogeny. Views and vistas differ sharply from those of the state's central mountain spine.
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.
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. 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.
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. It brought the many boulders seen in the area and created many prominent features, including Lake Memphremagog, Lake Willoughby, and Crystal Lake.
The retreat of the Laurentide glacier allowed the Green Mountains again to arise, but much eroded. 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. In 2009, state officials aimed for 1 moose per 1 square mile (2.6 km2).
The average growing season is about 123-130 frost-free days.
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.
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. 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.
The Northeast Kingdom's popularity as a destination grew strongly from the moment that Governor George Aiken delivered a name for the region in 1949. Vermont Public Radio reporter Charlotte Albright researched the naming process and wrote, "The novelist Howard Frank Mosher, who immortalizes the area in his fictional "Kingdom County," believes Aiken cooked up the phrase while fishing in Essex County." Aiken and his wife Lola were surprised at how strongly the term caught on.
Patent medicines were popular here, as in other rural regions, in the late 19th century. The local pharmacists who devised these "cures" gradually metamorphosed into today's pharmacies, and in the Northeast Kingdom they are still businesses where residents are often recognized and greeted by name. Similarly, the area's "country doctors" are now affiliated with two regional hospitals (North Country Regional Hospital in Newport, VT, and Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital in St. Johnsbury, VT), as well as the Dartmouth-Hitchcock network.
In 2015, the region featured half a dozen local radio stations, as well as regional versions of Vermont Public Radio (FM88.5 broadcast from Burke Mountain) and Montpelier's The Point; popular are Magic 97.7 FM broadcast from Lyndonville, VT, and MOO (WMOO) at 92.1FM from Derby Center, Vermont.
In all three counties, estimated population dropped between 2010 and 2012 by about 200 people. State population declined slightly as well.
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 it benefits from an agency that is both an Economic Development Commission as well as a Regional Planning Commission, the Northeastern Vermont Development Association and Regional Planning Commission (NVDA). Under a state legislators' study to lower state government spending, lawmakers have been looking to the Northeast Kingdom's RPC/EDC as a model for possible consolidation of agencies throughout the state.
Various organizations are tasked with aiding public health including the Northeast Kingdom Human Services.
The area offers mountain biking, skiing, and fall foliage viewing. A rail trail across the southern part of the Kingdom originates in St. Johnsbury on South Main Street as part of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail; in the north, the Kingdom Heritage Lands feature multiple use access, including hiking, bicycling, and hunting; and in the center of the Kingdom, radiating outward from Burke Mountain, are hundreds of acres threaded with well-kept trails provided via Kingdom Trails of East Burke, VT.
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, formerly known as the Gilman Housing Trust.
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.
Two railroads traverse the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont:
- Washington County Railroad (part of the Vermont Rail System) - WACR has just recently been awarded a 30-year contract to operate the track running from White River Junction north through St. Johnsbury and Newport.
- The St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad - Six trips a day between Island Pond and Maine. Four trips a day between Island Pond and Canada. Lumber is the principal freight.
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. The budget for the 2016 calendar year was $716,673. Towns or haulers were charged $23.25 per ton. The Kingdom produced about half the national average of trash. This is the result of lower incomes and fewer places to shop.
The literary suspense novels of author Don Bredes are set in the fictional Northeast Kingdom village of Tipton, just south of the Quebec border, and this NEK resident recently extended into "young adult" (YA) fiction that also brushed into the area.
Author Beth Kanell's mystery/adventure novels are set in the Kingdom: The Darkness Under the Water in Waterford, The Secret Room in North Danville, and Cold Midnight in St. Johnsbury. Kanell is also a regional poet, best known for her publications in the Green Mountain Trading Post, a Northeast Kingdom newspaper that dedicates its first few pages to regional poems and fiction under the motto "No News Is Good News."
- The Caledonian-Record, the area's largest newspaper, is published daily in St. Johnsbury.
- the Chronicle - published weekly in Barton
- The Newport Daily Express - published daily except Saturdays and Sundays in Newport. Owned by Horizon Publications out of Marion, IL. Printed in Canada
- The North Star Monthly - published monthly in Danville
- The Hardwick Gazette - published weekly in Hardwick
- WSTJ - 1340 AM; St. Johnsbury, VT - Standards
- WIKE - 1490 AM; Newport, VT - Country
- WVPA - 88.5 FM; St. Johnsbury, VT - Vermont Public Radio
- WCKJ - 90.5 FM; St. Johnsbury, VT - Religious - "The Light"
- WWLR - 91.5 FM; Lyndonville, VT - Lyndon State College - "Impulse 91.5"
- WMOO - 92.1 FM; Derby Center, VT - Hot Adult Contemporary - "Moo 92"
- WJSY-LP - 96.1 FM; Newport, VT - Religious
- W243AE - 96.5 FM; Orleans, VT - Religious - "The Light"
- WGMT - 97.7 FM; Lyndon, VT - Hot Adult Contemporary - "Magic 97.7"
- W257AU - 99.3 FM; St. Johnsbury, VT - Rebroadcast of WMOO
- WQJQ - 100.3 FM; Barton, VT - Rebroadcast of WGMT
- WKXH - 105.5 FM; St. Johnsbury, VT - Country - "Kix 105.5"
- WDOT - 95.7 FM; Danville, VT - Adult Album Alternative - "The Point" (rebroadcasts WNCS/Montpelier)
- WVTI 106.9 FM broadcasts classical music from Island Pond, Vermont.
The Northeast Kingdom is part of the Burlington / Plattsburgh 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.
- 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
- "Vermont's Northeast Kingdom is". Northeast Kingdom Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
- Various Vermont Mountains
- U.S. Geological Survey Seneca Mountain, Vermont 7½-minute quadrangle, 1988
- "The National Geographic Society Press Room". Northeast Kingdom Geotourism Mapguide Debuts at Vermont Travel Industry Conference. Retrieved 2006-12-22.
- United States 2010 census. American Factfinder.
- Nancy Bazilchuk and Rick Strimbeck. (1999). Longstreet Highroad Guide to the Vermont Mountains. Longstreet Press. Cite error: Invalid
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- "Shelburne Geology". Geologic history of the Champlain Valley. Retrieved 2006-12-24.
- "Digital Commons - Middlebury". Depth Constraints on the Origins of Northeast Kingdom Granites, Vermont. Retrieved 2006-12-28.
- "About Geology". Generalized Geologic Map of Vermont. Retrieved 2006-12-24.
- "Geological Society of American Conference". Ordovician Sedimentary Breccia and Magnetite-Coticule Metasiltstone, Northeast Kingdom, Vermont. Retrieved 2006-12-24.
- "The University of Vermont". A Brief History and Overview of Vermont's Physical Landscape. Retrieved 2006-12-24.
- "America's Volcanic Past". Crystal Lake. Retrieved 2006-12-24.
- "The Mountains of Vermont". The Green Mountains. Retrieved 2006-12-24.
- Rathke, Lisa (October 17, 2008). State hopes moose season culls herd. Burlington Free Press.
- Richard Creaser (2009-10-28). "Cow are giving birth to fewer offspring". the chronicle. Chris and Ellen Braithwaite. p. 13.
- Lefebvre, Paul (January 8, 2014). "Lynx is elusive target of biologists' study". The Chronicle. Barton, Vermont. pp. 1A, 26A, 27A.
- Vermont Fish and Wildlife (March 19, 2014). "Marten population grows despite past extinction". The Chronicle. Barton, Vermont. pp. 19A.
- Vezina, Kendrick (March 19, 2014). "Live weird, die young: The Virginia opossum". The Chronicle. Barton, Vermont. pp. 23A.
- Draft Environmental Assessment retrieved May 28, 2008
- This was tied by Black River, Maine in 2009.
- Adams, Glenn (February 11, 2009). Maine ties Vt. for record low temperature. Burlington Free Press.
- Starr, Tena (March 9, 2011). "Snowfall brought area to a halt". the Chronicle. Barton, Vermont. p. 1.
- Maleski, Steve (May 21, 2014). "Why is it sunnier in southern Vermont". The Chronicle. Barton, Vermont. pp. 7A.
- "The Flow of History". Native Americans in Vermont. Retrieved 2006-12-24.
- "First Nations Histories". Abenaki History. Retrieved 2006-12-02.
- "Native Languages". Wabanki Confederacy. Retrieved 2006-12-24.
- "Native Languages". Iroquois Confederacy. Retrieved 2006-12-24.
- "Manataka American Indian Council". Abenaki History Part I. Retrieved 2006-12-24.
- "Aiken coined "Northeast Kingdom" 60 years ago". Winooski, Vermont: Vermont Public Radio. 24 March 2009. p. 1.
- Metraux, Daniel A. (June 2015). "Medical Care on the Vermont Frontier". Vermont's Northland Journal. 14 (3): 22.
- "Give Me That Old-Time Medicine: Patent Medicines in the Northeast Kingdom". Derby, Vermont: Vermont's Northland Journal. August 2015. p. 7.
- "Locations & Directions". Dartmouth-Hitchcock. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
- "NEK establishments listed in Yankee's best of NE awards". Barton, Vermont: the Chronicle. 3 February 2010. p. 7.
- "Northeast Kingdom Vermont Radio Stations". Vermont Living. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
- Starr, Tena (May 15, 2013). "NEK population drops slightly, census estimates". The Chronicle. Barton, Vermont. pp. 10–11.
- Page, Candace (20 June 2010). "Potent Alliance". Burlington, Vermont: Burlington Free Press. pp. 1A, 4A.
- "Rural Edge".
- The Chronicle, June 3, 2009, page 27, "Economic development debated in Barton" http://www.ruraledge.org/
- Creaser, Richard (October 22, 2008). State transportation money is based on traffic. the Chronicle.
- Creaser, Richard (June 4, 2014). "Tomasi explains effects of mandatory recycling law". The Chronicle. Barton, Vermont. pp. 3A.
- Trail, Elizabeth (December 16, 2015). "Waste management district adopts budget". The Chronicle. Barton, Vermont. pp. 3A.
- New York Times accessed February 1, 2008
- New York Times retrieved June 29, 2008
- List of Vermont Radio Stations
- MOO 92 retrieved on May 13, 2007
- VPR (October 28, 2008). VPR Classical broadcasts from I.P. the Chronicle.