The first purchase of lands which comprise the Salmon River Forest was made by the State Board of Fisheries and Game in 1934. The Forest now contains nearly 6,000 acres located in the towns of Hebron, Marlborough Colchester, East Haddam, and East Hampton. Included in the forest area is 1,300 acres that are leased from the United States Government.
The important tributaries of the Salmon River are the Dickenson Stream, Blackledge River, Jeremy River, and Fawn Brook, all of which enter the main river above Comstock Bridge. The Salmon River joins the Connecticut River a short distance from East Haddam. It is probably the largest stream and watershed whose sources and mouth are entirely within the limits of the State.
One of the early and notable settlers in this area was John Carrier who was reputed to be the executioner of Charles the First and who fled England when the monarchy was restored. His family name still exists on the land records of the area.
The towns in this area were settled during the early part of 1700 and were typical of the early New England settlements. Streams and ponds were dammed to furnish waterpower for grist mills, tanneries, and later paper mills.
The Salmon River and its tributaries each had more mills trying to operate by the middle of the nineteenth century than the water supply could support during periods of minimal precipitation. At North Westchester, for example, during low periods the grist mills had to operate at night and the paper mill by the day.
The easy accessibility of the Salmon River and its tributaries has made the forest a very popular fishing area.