Green Mountain National Forest
231 North Main Street
Rutland, VT 05701
Region 9 Regional Office
626 East Wisconsin Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Each community, past and present, has its own story to tell. We have fleshed out some of the story of Aldrichville, a sawmill village established by local businessman/logger Barney Aldrich in the 1880's. It operated for more than 20 years before being abandoned in favor of a new location in the valley, nearer Wallingford's downtown and railroad. At the time of its peak operation the village consisted of a steam-powered mill, a store, school, blacksmith shop, boarding house, and roughly a dozen households -- divided into French- and English-speaking neighborhoods.
|Unlike simple "logging camps", this was a community of families. Town records, historic photographs, diaries and the archaeological record testify to the presence of children, a local baseball team and other non-"lumber jack" aspects of daily life. Today it is a nearly invisible archaeological district deep in the National Forest.|
Our two-week "Relics & Ruins" summer program for kids, ages 10-14, investigated the Aldrichville story from 1997-1999. Campers were introduced to a range of methods for investigating historic lifestyles and environments. We used archaeology, oral history, art, music, photography, documentary research, and creative writing to achieve a sense of the ways and quality of life in this village. We also discussed the effect such an operation had on the local environment (the forests and streams didn't look like they do now!), and why stewardship of our cultural and natural resources is important. We also had fun!
|After just three seasons, we had identified the locations of many of the features and sites within the village, recovered and catalogued over 6000 artifacts, increased the visibility of the mill foundations, composed a folk song , displayed our work at the Chaffee Center for the Visual Arts in Rutland, established semi-permanent exhibits at the Forest's Rutland office visitor center, produced a 22-page "Aldrichville Gazette" , constructed a trail-side interpretive sign , and engaged 50 children in a fun and worthwhile endeavor. As you hike your favorite section of the Forest take time to remember that there is an "Aldrichville", or something like it, nearby -- quite possibly right under your feet!|
|If you would like to read more about Aldrichville, see "Relics & Ruins at Aldrichville", by David Lacy and Sheila Charles, in the Journal of Vermont Archaeology (Volume 3).|