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      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 25,404 souls. 


      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."

Gazetteer Of Washington County, Vt. 1783-1899, 
Compiled and Published by Hamilton Child,
Edited By William Adams.
The Syracuse Journal Company, Printers and Binders.
Syracuse, N. Y.; April, 1889.
Pages 13-16

Transcribed by Karima Allison, 2003