What's at the bottom of the Conn. River?

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BELLOWS FALLS — At the Bellows Falls Fish Ladder Visitor Center, one can see incredible salmon and sea lampreys swim by every summer. But there are even more treasures hidden beneath the waves, ripples, and pools of the Connecticut River: historical artifacts, shipwrecks, and Native American petroglyphs (rock carvings) have been discovered in the river.

Join The Nature Museum and master diver Annette , who has been diving in the Connecticut River for over 30 years, for the grand reopening of the Bellows Falls Fish Ladder and Visitor Center on June 23. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Spaulding will be sharing stories and showing artifacts she has found on her dives.

Meet with her on June 23 and ask her about her life as a diver: What's it like to find a shipwreck underwater? How did she get trained as a search-and-rescue diver? Which artifact intrigues her the most? Which animals has she seen swimming near the fish ladder?

Spaulding is a master diver and has spent three decades exploring the waters of the Connecticut River. In the fall of 2015, she discovered Native American petroglyphs near the junction of the West River and the Connecticut River - a discovery she'd been working towards for decades.

The Bellows Falls Fish Ladder Visitor Center will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on June 23 for a full day of free grand opening celebrations. In addition to Spaulding's sharing of her knowledge and artifacts, The Nature Museum's environmental educator, Jay DeGregorio, will be leading an interactive program at 10 a.m. Stop by for DeGregorio's program, meet with Spaulding and ask about her diving adventures, and then peruse and enjoy the exhibits of the Visitor Center, which guides visitors of all ages through the ecology of the Connecticut River and its habitats. Learn about the fish, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, and birds who live here. Walk below the water level and watch the water rush past - you may see a sea lamprey suctioned onto the window. Discover the history of the fish ladder, and be sure to meet the newest member of the fish ladder team: Bernie, a full-size, historic diving suit used in the 1970s by technicians at the fish ladder.

In 2018, the Visitor Center is open on Fridays and Saturdays from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Most weeks, there will be a free nature program from 10 to 11 a.m. These programs include activities and take-home crafts and are led by a Nature Museum educator. Programs include "World of Owls - What's All the Hoot About?", "Inspecta Insecta" , and "All About Black Bears." All programs are free. Note: There will be no special programming on July 13, 14, 27 and 28. For more details on each week's programming, visit www.nature-museum.org.

The Nature Museum operates the Visitor Center on behalf of Great River Hydro, owner of the fish ladder as well as the hydroelectric facility in Bellows Falls. The Visitor Center is located at 17 Bridge Street in Bellows Falls.

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