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Colchester Bog Natural Area

This guide identifies resources about UVM's Colchester Bog Natural Area.

Human History

The following resource list provides information relating to the history of Colchester Bog and its surroundings. For a brief synopsis of the history of Colchester Bog, see the tab marked "Synopsis."

Colchester History

Beattie, Mary Elizabeth. Emigres and Industrialization: French Canadians in Burlington and Colchester, Vermont, 1850-1870. UVM Department of History, 1985.
Call number: Special Collections W15 O B38ma  

Look around Colchester and Milton. Burlington, VT: Chittenden County Historical Society, 1975.
Call number: Special Collections F59.C62 L66 1975

Schaefer, Inge. Colchester. Portsmouth, N.H.: Arcadia, 2003.
Call number: Special Collections F59.C62 S33 2003

Schaefer, Inge. Chronicles of Colchester. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2009.
Call number: Special Collections F59.C62 S327 2009

Wright, Ruth. History of the Town of Colchester. 1963.
Call number: Special Collections F59.C62 W74 1966

Native Americans

Abenaki in Vermont: a history kit for students and their teachers. Montpelier, Vt.: Vermont Historical Society, 1998.
Call number: Special Collections E78.V5 V46 1998

Haviland, William A. The original Vermonters: Native Inhabitants, Past and Present. Hanover, N.H. : Published by University Press of New England [for] University of Vermont, 1994.
Call number: Special Collections E78.V5 H37 1994 UVM

Sacca, Michael and Sharrow, Gregory. The Abenaki of Vermont: A Living Culture. Middlebury, Vt. : Vermont Folklife Center, c2002. VHS.
Call number: Media VID 7761

Wiseman, Frederick Matthew. The Abenaki People and the Bounty of the Land: Important Wild Plant Foods of the Western Abenaki. Burlington, Vt. : Ethan Allen Homestead Trust, 1995.
Call number: Special Collections E99.A13 A134 no.2

Rutland Railroad

Clark, Peg. Memories of the Ups and Downs of the Island Line. Burlington, VT, 2004. 
Call number: Special Collections HE 2791 .R883 C53 20014

Jones, James R.  Rutland remnants [videorecording]. Tell-Tale Productions, c2006.DVD.
Call number: Howe Media DVD 494

Historical Sketch of Rutland Railroad Company, 1849-1949. Rutland Railroad Company,1949.
Call number: Special Collections HE2791.R949 H58 1949 

Champlain Airport

Vermont Airfields: Existing Fields [Map]. Montpelier, Vt.: Vermont Planning Board, 1940.
Call number: Special Collections G3751.P61 1940 .V47 


The Colchester Bog began forming 9000 years ago after the melting of the Wisconsin Ice sheet. It formed from a former channel of the Winooski River when it was cut off from the freshwater of Lake Champlain. Early colonial settlers discovered flints and other Native American tools on Colchester Point, confirming that the Abenaki Indians were the first inhabitants of the area. The Abenaki used the unique bog ecosystems for various needs. The sphagnum moss was used for insulations and diapers. Labrador tea, sheep laurel and tamarack, which can all be found in the bog, were used for ailments such as the common cold.

The French had a small military fort on Colchester Point in the 1700’s and the Porter family settled on the land in 1804 and stayed there for generations to come. The Porters used the land surrounding the bog mostly for farming. It is supposed that the easy to reach harvestable timber was removed in the 18th and 19th centuries. For a brief period, the Porter family ran a ferry from Colchester to South Hero that was powered by horses in the hull of the ship.

In 1899, the Porters sold a strip of land in the bog to the Rutland Railroad which began running in 1901 and ended operations 1961. The old railroad bed now serves as the bike path which cuts across the bog and continues to the causeway.

In 1945, the land to the south east of the bog was bought to develop the Champlain Airport. In the 1980’s the owner of the airport fell ill and was poised to sell the land for housing development. Thanks to Vermont’s ACT 250, the sale was denied due to concerns regarding the well-being of the bog.

In 1973, the Nature Conservancy bought the Colchester Bog form the Porter and O’Brien families, and the next year turned it over to the University of Vermont’s Natural Areas for research and preservation. The Colchester Bog serves as a research area for UVM students and as a natural learning environment for surrounding residents. The Colchester Bog serves as a shining example of land conservation, remaining relatively unchanged for 9000 years and hopefully at least as many to come through the stewardship of the community.