Vermont: Geography

The forested Green Mts. constitute the dominant physiographic feature of Vermont. They consist of at least four distinct groups, all traversing the state in a generally north-south direction. Largest and most important are the Green Mts. proper, which extend down the center of the state from the Canadian border to the Massachusetts line, rising to Vermont's highest peak, Mt. Mansfield (4,393 ft/1,339 m). The Taconic Mts., occupying the southwestern portion of the state, contain Vermont's important marble deposits. East of the Green Mts. and extending from the Canadian border to somewhat below the middle of the state are the Granite Hills, so called because of their valuable stone. The fourth group, sometimes called the Red Sandrock Hills, extends along the Vermont shore of Lake Champlain. In E Vermont there are also isolated peaks or monadnocks not connected with the principal ranges.

The rivers of Vermont (the only completely inland state of New England) flow either into the Connecticut River or into Lake Champlain. The Winooski rises east of the Green Mts. and cuts directly through them to Lake Champlain. Grand Isle county, comprising several islands and a peninsula jutting down into Lake Champlain from Canada, is connected to Vermont proper by causeways.

Vermont has a short summer and a humid, continental climate, with abundant rainfall and a growing season that varies from 120 days in the Connecticut valley to 150 in the Lake Champlain region. Winter brings heavy snows, which usually cover the ground for at least three full months, but because the state's good roads are almost always kept clear, this season no longer forces complete isolation on rural communities. With its rugged terrain, much of it still heavily wooded, Vermont has limited areas of arable land, but the state is well suited to grazing (the Justin Morgan breed of horses was developed there).

Every summer thousands of vacationers are drawn by the scenic mountains and the picturesque New England villages, while climbers attempt the many accessible peaks and hikers take on the Long Trail that runs the length of the state along the Green Mt. ridge. In the winter thousands of skiers flock to the slopes at Mad River Glen, Bromley, Stowe, Stratton, and elsewhere. Montpelier is the capital, Burlington the largest city.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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