World Waterfall Database
Book Review

New England Waterfalls

Parsons, Greg and Watson, Kate (author)

The Countryman Press, 2003
Edition 1
Format Paperback
Print Style Black and White
Book Type Guidebook
Page Count 298
ISBN 0-88150-545-5
In Print? Yes
Ratings
Picture quality (4)
Picture Quantity (3)
Accuracy of Content (3)
Thoroughness of Content (2)
Production Value (4)

Reviewed by Bryan Swan

Aside from the excellent "Waterfalls of the White Mountains" by Bruce and Doreen Bolnick, nobody had attempted to author a waterfall guidebook on the waterfalls throughout most of New England until 2003, when Babson College undergrad students Greg Parsons and Kate Watson dedided to take a stab at it. The result is New England Waterfalls, a fairly thick book discussing 200+ waterfalls in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. While New England certainly isn't known as a hot bed for waterfalls, it is fairly well endowed and a book covering such a large region would have to be authored selectively, so Parsons and Watson picked select entries from each state to round out a fairly generalized but fairly limited product. The problem is they don't appear to have done all their homework on the few waterfalls they do cover.

I have family in the Boston area, and whenever I visit them, Dean Goss and I get together to do some waterfall bagging in the New England area. We've had four opportunities to field-check the data in this book now, and the more we use it, the more we are finding small holes in the information that indicate to us that the authors may not have actually visited a number of the waterfalls they wrote about. For example, in the fall of 2008, Dean and I were dead set on getting to Maine's Angel Falls. We followed the directions laid out in New England Waterfalls up to the 3 mile gravel road leading to the trailhead, but once we got on the road we quickly realized that a high clearance vehicle is necessary to reach the trailhead. This is not mentioned in the book and should have been glaringly obvious to the authors. Secondly, between the turnoff to Angel Falls and the town of Mexico are two waterfalls along the Coos River: Swift River Falls and an unnamed waterfall in Coos Canyon. The authors mention these two together under the entry for Swift River Falls but for some reason suggest there is no waterfall at all at Coos Canyon, even though it is plainly visible from the parking area. This all leads us to believe the authors didn't visit any of these locations. If they did visit these spots, then they half-assed it.

This is not an isolated incident either.

On the positive side, the book is well laid out, easy to use and understand and where the information is accurate, it is useful. The pictures are well printed and though it would have been nice to see more, because Greg Parsons is a decent photographer, the selection is fairly well representative of the waterfalls discussed. The maps used in the book will be immediately familiar to those who have Waterfalls of the White Mountains, and although there is no Index (maybe the publisher is opposed to the concept), the waterfalls are listed alphabetically in each chapter which makes finding a particular entry easy (though it does make figuring out which waterfalls are grouped together much more difficult without a map). So until a more complete book or series of books on the waterfalls around New England can come about, this one will do. Just keep in mind that the information is largely incomplete and most certainly not infallible.

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