Commerce at the Crossroads

Commerce at the Crossroads (HM1OC2)

Location: Vergennes, VT 05491 Addison County
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Country: United States of America
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N 44° 9.983', W 73° 15.36'

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Intersection of Rivers and Roads

Imagine traveling hundreds of miles in an ox-drawn wagon along muddy, rock-strewn, deeply rutted roads through the wilderness. In search of new homesteads, early settlers followed the same routes you took to get to Vergennes. Old stage roads, now US Route 7 and Vermont Route 22A, merged on Main Street. In addition, Otter Creek was a main travel route in the 1800s, as the basin below the falls grew into one of nearby Lake Champlain's busiest ports. Later, in 1848, the Burlington and Rutland Railroad arrived at Vergennes, providing a faster mode of travel.

An Early Vermont Hub

Chartered in 1788, Vermont's first city capitalized on the falls, access to Lake Champlain, and its location at a crossroads to attract people and businesses. Vergennes, which covers about 2 square miles (1,200 acres), grew during the 1800s as a manufacturing, trade, and cultural center for the surrounding agricultural towns.

Farm Trade in the City

Farmers from nearby towns brought grains, milk, wool, and other raw materials to sell or trade in Vergennes. The red brick Norton Grist Mill, built in 1878 to replace an earlier grist mill on the island, served the farmers. It used water power to drive large grindstones and produce flour, grain, feed, and plaster for over 90 years. Teams of horses driven to the mill were watered, fed, and rested in the nearby barn.

Industry and Trade Flourishes on Main Street, circa 1890

The four-story building left of the wooden bridge housed businesses that manufactured doors, flooring, and window blinds, sashes, and molding that still adorn many of the City's historic buildings. Across the road, Vermont's largest tannery used tannin from bark discarded by local wood-based businesses to process leather that was made into boots, shoes, and horse harnesses. The core of the City's central business district is uphill from Otter Creek, where hotels, churches, artisan shops, banks, law offices, liveries, and general merchandise stores lined Main Street.
HM NumberHM1OC2
Placed ByCity of Vergennes
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Wednesday, September 30th, 2015 at 9:02am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18T E 639432 N 4891831
Decimal Degrees44.16638333, -73.25600000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 44° 9.983', W 73° 15.36'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds44° 9' 58.98" N, 73° 15' 21.6" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)802
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling South
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 360 Main St, Vergennes VT 05491, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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