SOIL, AND STAPLE PRODUCTIONS.
Washington county is fortunate in having a clear and bracing atmosphere,
and is classed as one of the healthiest locations in the state. But like
other northern locations, it is subject to extremes of heat and cold. Snow
sufficient for sleighing frequently falls in November and remains until
April. We append from information furnished by Mr. B. I. WHEELER, of East
Montpelier, who has made accurate measurement of the snowfall for more
than forty years, the following reliable statistics. The first record is
for the winter of 1846, when the snow fall was nine feet. In the winter
of 1887 it was twelve feet two inches. The least depth of any year was
in 1877, when it was five feet eight inches. The greatest depth was in
1873, twelve feet seven inches. We also have Mr. WHEELER's report of the
temperature at East Montpelier for thirty-seven years. The warmest weather
was August 21, 1884, when the thermometer registered 101° above zero.
The coldest weather was December 25, 1872, January 6, 1884, and January
19, 1887, when it registered 40e° below zero.
The soil differs materially in different parts of the county, but
in general it is strong and fertile. The intervales along the streams are
the best lands in the county. An idea of the resources of the county is
obtained from the following statistics shown by the census report of 1880.
The county then had 3,229 farms, valued at $9,048,622, while its total
debt, bonded and floating, was $261,030. These farms contained live stock
valued at $1,320,474, and produced farm products valued at $1,819,724.
A very good showing for a small county containing a population of only
Washington county is not what may be called a manufacturing district;
yet, while it has many fine water-powers that are utilized, it has many
more that await the hand of enterprise. As sketches of the resources and
history of manufactories are generally given ire the towns wherein they
are located, we will dismiss the subject at this point with the following
statistics from the census report of 1880. There were then 271 manufacturing
establishments in the county, representing an invested capital of $1,245,997,
and giving employment to 865 hands, to whom was paid $271,217 in wages.
The total value of the material used was $1,243,992, and the total amount
of manufactured goods was $3,920,210.
Those who from age, infirmity, or otherwise become unable to support
themselves, and are so unfortunate as to be obliged to rely upon public
charity for support, are cared for, in conformity with the laws of the
state, by the inhabitants of the town wherein they reside.
Just as far back as we have any history, or tradition, the Winooski
river was an Indian highway, from Lake Champlain to Montpelier, over which
these "Lords of the forests" traveled to meet at their feasts, sent
their ministers plenipotentiary to the august assemblies of their Confederation,
or perhaps sent their braves to chastise some recreant tribe. From Montpelier
there were, as there is to-day, two routes to the Connecticut river: one
by way of Dog river, over the height of land at Roxbury, and down the White
river to the Connecticut at White River junction; the other led the way
by the head waters of the Winooski, and down Wells river, to its confluence
with the Connecticut at the village of the same name. Their pale faced
brothers, with all their boasted knowledge of the "fine art' of topographical
engineering, have been compelled to imitate the "untutored savage" by locating
their thoroughfares on precisely these old routes.
The Winooski turnpike, chartered November 7, 1805, and the Paine
turnpike were among the first enterprises of public interest in Washington
county. These, in connection with others, formed a stage line and mail
rout extending from Boston by way of Burlington to Montreal. Later Mr.
Ira DAY, of Barre, made an improvement of the route by building a turnpike
by way of the celebrated "Gulf route." This line was traversed by
COTTRILL and DAY's famous stage lines, with their elegant coaches drawn
by six and eight superb horses. At one time they carried the British mail
to Montreal, which then came by way of Boston. A British soldier accompanied
each mail, armed with a musket. These lines flourished until the advent
of the railroads.
The Vermont Central Railroad Company, subsequently changed to the
Central Vermont Railroad Company, was incorporated November 1, 1843, for
the purpose, and with the right, of building a railroad "from some point
on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain, up the valley of Onion river and
extending to a point on Connecticut river most convenient to meet a railroad
either from Concord, N. H., or Fitchburgh, Mass." The route decided upon
was up the Connecticut river from Windsor to the mouth of White river,
thence up that stream to the source of its third branch, passing through
the towns of Randolph and Braintree, in Orange county, thence reaching
the summit in Roxbury, and passing down the valley of Dog river, it enters
the Winooski valley near Montpelier, and thence, continuing in the Winooski
valley, its terminus is reached at Burlington, a distance of 117 miles.
Charles PAINE was chosen president of the company, and ground was broken
at Windsor, December 15, 1845, on the farm formerly occupied by Judge Elijah
PAINE, father of Charles PAINE, where the latter was born, the first ground
broken for a railroad in Vermont. Regular passenger trains first passed
over the road from White River junction to Bethel, a distance of twenty-seven
miles, the first train, and the first regular passenger train in Vermont,
running over the route Monday, June 26, 1848. June 20, 1849, the road was
opened through for business. The company also operate a branch from Montpelier
to Williamstown, in Orange county, which it is expected will eventually
connect with the main road in Royalton. The following are the present officers
of the Central Vermont Company, with their offices at St. Albans: Hon.
J. G. SMITH, president; J. W. HOBART, general manager; J. M. FOSS, general
superintendent; I. B. FUTVOI, superintendent Northern division; Jesse BURDETT,
superintendent Rutland division; E. A. CHITTENDEN, superintendent of local
freight traffic; S. W. CUMMINGS, general passenger agent.
Granite Railroad Company was chartered April 9, 1888. It is proposed
to extend from Barre village to the granite quarries, and is to be operated
by the Central Vermont Railroad Company.
In 1849 a charter was obtained for a railroad from Montpelier to
Connecticut river, in the town of Newbury, under the name of the "Montpelier
& Connecticut River R. R. Co." Prominent names in the act of incorporation
were R. R. KEITH, J. A. WING, I. N. HALL, Joseph POTTS, Daniel BALDWIN,
O H. SMITH. Jacob KENT, Jr., and others. A preliminary survey, called the
"Kennedy survey," was made in 1850, with the maximum grade not to exceed
sixty-five feet to the mile. To follow this grade would have ruined all
the incorporators and their friends, and the charter failed by default.
In 1867 another charter was obtained under the name of the "Montpelier
& Wells River Railroad Co." Prominent men named in this act of incorporation
were Roderick RICHARDSON, J. R. LANGDON, E. P. WALTON, David BALDWIN, of
Montpelier, I. N. HALL and J. R. DARLING, of Groton, and including, names
from the towns of East Montpelier, Plainfield, Marshfield, Cabot, Ryegate,
and Newbury. The incorporators met and partially organized in 1868, completing
the organization in 1869 and 1870. The organization when completed was
as follows: Directors, Roderick RICHARDSON, I. N. HALL, C. H. HEATH, George
B. FESENDEN, J. G. FRENCH, Jacob SMITH, Joel FOSTER, Jr., George WOOSTER,
and I. W. BROWN. Roderick RICHARDSON was elected president. In 1872, I.
N. HALL was elected president, and a change in four of the directors was
made. N. C. MUNSON built the road by contract. The first through mail train
passed over the line November 30, 1873. The company became embarrassed,
and January 1, 1877, the stockholders surrendered the road and the franchise
to the bondholders with the conditions that they (the bondholders) pay
the debts of the company, and it was so arranged. The bondholders, organizing
as the "Montpelier & Wells River railroad," elected for their first
directors D. R. SORTWELL, of Cambridge, Mass.; S. S. THOMPSON, Lyndonville,
Vt.; W. H. H. BINGHAM, Stowe, Vt.; E. C. SLIERMAN, Boston; and Joel FOSTER,
Montpelier, Vt. Daniel R. SORTWELL was elected president, and Joel FOSTER,
treasurer and clerk. The present officers of the company are D. R. SORTWELL,
president; S. S. THOMPSON, vice-president; Joel FOSTER, secretary and treasurer;
W. A. STOWELL, general superintendent; F. W. MORSE, cashier and general
freight and passenger agent.
The Barre Railroad Company was chartered April 9, 1888. The road
extends from Barre village to the granite quarries. It is already nearly
completed and is hauling granite dawn the mountain. It connects at Barre
with the Barre Branch railroad.
The Barre Branch railroad, chartered July 6, 1888, extends from
the track of the Montpelier & Wells River railroad near "The Coffee
House" to the Barre railroad at Barre, and is operated by the "Montpelier
& Wells River railroad."
Of Washington County, Vt. 1783-1899,
and Published by Hamilton Child,
By William Adams.
Journal Company, Printers and Binders.
N. Y.; April, 1889.
by Karima Allison, 2003