Vermont, our beautiful green mountain state, is New England’s only landlocked state. But as it turns out, Vermont is quite nautical by nature!
At a construction site in 1849, eight miles from the shore of freshwater Lake Champlain, workmen unearthed skull and bones that were thought to be a horse or ox, or other large animal. It was a large creature, indeed! What they found was the skeleton of a 14-foot, 11-thousand-year-old beluga whale! And evidence confirming that salty seawaters had once covered the Champlain Valley.
The history then discovered is quite remarkable. Almost 25,000 years ago, a continental glacier covered the Champlain Valley with ice a mile deep. As the earth’s climate warmed, the glacier melted in part and receded north, enough to allow the North Atlantic and its inhabitants to flow over what is now the Champlain Valley. Almost 13,000 years ago, the Champlain Valley was home to mollusks, sea urchins, seahorses, squid, salmon, seals, and belugas, to name a few! Within 3,000 years, the region, once depressed by the weight of the glacier, rose above sea level and the valley’s waters drained into the St. Lawrence River, which connects the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean.
The whales tails made of 36 tons of African black granite stand 14 feet tall and are in plain sight of our interstate I-89. Named “Reverence” by sculptor Jim Sardonis in 1989, the whales “diving” into a sea of grass symbolize the fragility of our planet. This whale of a tale of the whales tail’s is just one example of how our beautiful earth is ever changing, ever evolving, and that nothing lasts forever.