Telling the story of the development of the sport of skiing in Vermont often begins in 1934, when the first rope tow, a contraption powered by a Model-T Ford truck, was set up on a slope at Clint Gilbert’s farm in Woodstock. This mechanized apparatus did, indeed, launch a new era as well as a new technology in the history of skiing. But the story begins with the coming of skis to the north country that involved two Vermonters not often enough mentioned in today’s skiing memoirs: Fred Garey of Thetford and Fred H. Harris of Brattleboro.
For more background on this episode, visit: https://vermonthistory.org/early-days-of-skiing-1934
In 1933, the midst of the Great Depression, Col William J. Wilgus, former chief engineer of the New York Central Railroad, propose the construction of a scenic highway with a 1,000-foot right of way through the Green Mountains. Modeled after Virginia’s Skyline Drive in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the road was viewed, in historian Richard Judd’s words, “as an imaginative solution to the state’s apparent need for a big project which would employ many people, stimulate the Vermont economy, and confer lasting benefits on everyone concerned.”
For more information on this episode, please visit: https://vermonthistory.org/green-mountain-parkway-1933
Included in President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s monumental Emergency Work Act in March 1933 was an authorization to create a Civilian Conservation Corps, or C.C.C. as it came to be known, to recruit thousands of young men in a peace-time army to work in forests and parks and to pursue a broad array of conservation activities.
Vermont was originally allocated four C.C.C. camps, but thanks to the dynamic presence of Perry H. Merrill, State Forester, received considerably more assistance.
For more information on this episode, visit: https://vermonthistory.org/fighting-depression-ccc-1933
In 1930, the Committee on Traditions and Ideals of the Vermont Commission on Country Life appointed Helen Hartness Flanders (1890-1972), of Springfield, Vermont, to spearhead a project to document the traditional music of Vermont. Mrs. Flanders, daughter of former Governor of Vermont James Hartness, and wife of Ralph Flanders, a leader in the Vermont machine-tool industry and later Republican Senator from Vermont from 1946-1959, was a trained musician, writer, and arts patron. With the assistance of George Brown of Boston, a member of the Springfield Symphony, Mrs. Flanders traveled throughout the state, sought out singers of old ballads, wrote down and, as technology developed from wax cylinder, to disk, to reel-to-reel magnetic tape, recorded traditional New England folksongs and ballads as sung by native Vermonters and other New Englanders.
For more background on this episode, please visit: https://vermonthistory.org/collecting-old-songs-helen-hartness-flanders-1930
Until recently, little has been written about Vermont during the Great Depression. Two major and now classic scholarly works addressed some aspects of the era. Richard M. Judd's New Deal in Vermont covers a broad expanse of time and focuses on the major political events and the players who shaped New Deal legislation in Vermont. Elin Anderson's We Americans offers a remarkably insightful look at patterns of social interaction between Burlingtonians of varying social and ethnic identities ca. 1930, but does little to convey the overall reality of Depression-era life throughout the state. What was the nature of suffering, misery, despair—in sum, what was it like to have lived through this devastating event and the subsequent years?
For more background on this episode, please visit: https://vermonthistory.org/vermont-in-great-depression-1929
Vermont has had a long history of flooding. Of its approximately twenty major floods in the last two hundred years, the flood of November 3-4, 1927, was one of the most devastating (rivaled, and perhaps exceeded, by the floods in May 2011 in Central Vermont and the widespread damage from flooding related to Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011). A severe rainfall had swept across all of New England on that November weekend. But when the deluge hit Vermont, the state’s soil had already become saturated and the streams were running full because of an unusually heavy precipitation in late summer and fall.
For more background on this episode, please visit: https://vermonthistory.org/flood-of-27-1927
Calvin Coolidge became president of the United States as a consequence of Warren Harding’s death from a cerebral embolism on August 2, 1923. Coolidge completed Harding’s term and was elected to a term of his own in 1924, finally leaving office in March 1929. He was fortunate to have been president during a period of relative peach and expanding apparent prosperity. His conservative Republican policies of inaction toward domestic and international problems came to symbolize the era between World War I and the Great Depression. He skillfully restored integrity to government following the Harding scandals, and his plain-and-simple style was an appealing sign of calm and stability during the Roaring Twenties.
For more background on this episode, visit: https://vermonthistory.org/memories-of-silent-cal
Agricultural fairs have been popular annual attractions of Vermont’s summer and fall seasons for at least 150 years.
For more background on this episode, visit: https://vermonthistory.org/vermont-country-fairs-1924