Focal Places in Burlington

Englesby Brook : Human Land-Use


Like many urban waterways, waterflow in Englesby Brook is forced through extensive networks of culverts as it travels under major roadways. Crawling through these culverts provides an epic adventure, and a few sections rival advanced spelunking routes. The following is a memoir from one of many explorations of these culverts conducted by UVM graduate students:

in a culvert
Exploring a culvert
"On March 30, 2012, Carly, Steve and I started yet another adventure exploring the ins and outs of Englesby Brook. As per usual, when Carly and I arrived at a 200 meter long culvert that allows the brook to pass under Pine Street, we made haste and started to crawl through. Unlike past culvert trips, I was wearing a backpack and chest waders, which made squeezing through the tight culvert a difficult challenge. I traveled onward slow and steady, but before long I looked up and realized that Carly was way ahead of me. She yelled back to me and said that the roof of the culvert had ripped open and there was a steady stream of water falling from the ceiling. By the time I caught up, Carly had already limboed around the small waterfall coming from the ceiling. Since I had already been rushing to catch up, I made a split second decision to just duck my head and blitz through the waterfall as quickly as possible so that I wouldn’t get too wet. However what I didn’t realize was that a piece of culvert metal from the imploded roof was jutting downwards just past the falling water, and I ended up ramming into the metal head first, knocking myself over, injuring my forehead, knee and ego."

The image above captured by the graduate student investigators is one of many obstructions that can be found in these culverts. This shopping cart full of debris is an example of the curious objects that often impede streamflow in Englesby Brook.

The Crescent Woods bridge

At the bottom of the Crescent Woods area near Shelburne Road sits an old, collapsing bridge. The pools of water that form above and below the bridge are habitat for both fish and frogs. This bridge is likely part of the old Henry Holt property. Henry Holt was the founder of what is now a well-known publishing company, Henry Holt & Company. He built a mansion in the 1809's that is near the Burlington Country Club property, just at the head of Englesby Brook.

Long-time Residents of the Englesby Brook Area

Professor Dallas Boushey, who died in 2014 at the age of 94, was a resident of the Englesby Brook Watershed. We had the pleasure of speaking with him one afternoon while exploring the brook. Among other local memories, he remembers the paving of Englesby Ravine. Boushey's life story, in particular his path from being a janitor to a university professor of anatomy, is inspiring and worth investigating. (See article: Dallas - Anatomist Extraordinaire by Pamela Polston)