The unincorporated village of Island Pond village is located within the community of Brighton which is a small, picturesque town in Essex County, Vermont. The town lies approximately sixteen miles south of the Canadian border and 23 miles southeast of the City of Newport, Vermont. Surrounding Brighton are towns and unorganized towns of similar shape and size: Morgan, Warren Gore, and Avery’s Gore to the north; Lewis and Ferdinand to the east, Newark to the south, and Westmore and Charleston to the west.
The Town was organized in 1832. There is a historical marker located in Island Pond noting that the village is the meeting place of the first international railroad. One end of the railroad was started in Portland and the other in Montreal, and they met in Island Pond in 1853.
While the railroad remains a key economic factor for the Town today, tourism has come to play an important part in the economy. Brighton is a small rural town blessed with striking natural beauty and an abundance of natural resources that have benefited residents and attracted visitors for many years. It is also known for its extensive snowmobile trail system.
The village of Island Pond is situated along the shores of the similarly named 600-acre lake that features a 22-acre island. The shores of Island Pond are dotted with permanent and seasonal homes, rental cottages, campgrounds, lodging accommodations, restaurants and similar. The lake serves as a wonderful place to fish, swim and recreate.
The community also enjoys a prime location along the Clyde River which flows directly through the heart of Island Pond Village. The Clyde is a primary river along the Northern Forest Canoe Trail.
Additionally, the community is nestled at the base of Bluff Mountain, a 2,789 foot mountain that is known for its spectacular hiking opportunities.
Just outside of the village, approximately 10 miles to the east, is the Nulhegan division of the Silvo O Conte National Wildlife Refuge. Refuge lands consist of more than 26,600 acres of forest and contain three of the four tributaries of the Nulhegan River. These lands are nested within a working forest landscape exceeding 150,000 acres. This division is known for abundant songbirds, particularly boreal species and warblers, and has been designated an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society. It is open to residents and visitors alike for hiking, hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, environmental education, and interpretation.
About the Region
Essex County is one of three Vermont Counties that constitute a region within Vermont known as Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. The region obtained its name when, in 1949 on a visit to the region, Vermont Senator George Aiken exclaimed “This is such beautiful country up here — it should be called the Northeast Kingdom!” The area adopted this name, and has affectionately been called ‘The Kingdom’ or the ‘NEK’ since.
The stunning beauty of the Kingdom has garnered the attention of many writers. In her book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, Patrica Schultz asserts “when foliage flames each autumn, this could very well be the most beautiful place in America.” The Northeast Kingdom has also gained acclaim through the works of Howard Frank Mosher, who has used the Northeast Kingdom as a setting in numerous works of fiction.
In 2006, the National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations partnered with the local community to launch the Geotourism program in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. At the time, the Northeast Kingdom was one of only a handful of destinations selected by National Geographic to participate in a Geotourism program. Today, the region, including Island Pond, is ranked among the top Geotourism destinations in the world.
Geo•tour•ism (n): Tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place – its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents.