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Folsom School 3-4 Faces and Places Website

The students in Dr. Robinson's 3-4 Team, along with their library media specialist, Mrs. Sharon Hayes, have created a website all about South Hero history after interviewing townsfolk. Click here to learn about some buildings in town and the famous families that lived there in the past.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

History and Ecology on Rail Trail with SHLT-Feb. 11, 2017

History and Ecology on Rail Trail with SHLT
If we know where to look, the history of human settlement in South Hero can be seen in our landscape long after the farms and businesses are gone. Come see the signs of our history, and read the story of the continuing impact of lost homesteads, farms, factories, and rail lines on today's natural landscape. South Hero Land Trust had their first Naturalist Walk of 2017, where participants learned to see the signs of human history on today's landscape. Guest historian Samantha Ford and naturalist Chuck Hulse were available, for a historical tour of the Rail Trail. Teresa Robinson was not available but contributed dated historical photos and historical facts for the walk. Walk started at the northern end of the South Hero Recreation Path, at the corner of Tracy and Station Roads.
If you want to transport yourself back in time to what life was like in South Hero in the past, there is no better place than this triangular piece of land off Station and Tracy Rd. As Allen Stratton put it in his 2 Volume edition about South Hero Island the early Islanders cherished their isolation. They put up with the inconveniences of getting places off island and shipping their farm products because they were proud of their self-sufficiency in taking care of themselves. Then on Jan. 7th 1901 a great boost to the economy of the islands came with the opening of the Rutland Railroad and what was called the Island Line. Right here was where the Train Station was located. It was run by Mr. Doty who lived up Station Rd and never left town just went to work and home again. It had a telephone on the southern corner which was locked up and only Mr. Doty had a key. That box is now located on Jill Maxham’s barn where John Roy put it after he came back from the service and found it in the Crik.
As we walk along the trail and venture off to the sides, you will find evidence of three buildings that existed here. Two of them providing employment for many of the townsfolk, especially the women, for 6 weeks of the year during the months of Sept. and Oct. The first one was a canning factory proposed by the Twitchel and Champlin Co. The railroad agreed to put in a “siding” and the land was purchased. They bought sweet corn from the local farmers and completely processed it and labeled it with their own brand named “Maine’s Finest Corn,” and shipped it to Boston, NY, and other places in New England. Steam powered smoke came out of the stacks, wagon loads of unhusked corn would be pulled up and unloaded. The factory continued until 1930 when the war depressed the prices of corn and the local corn got a plague of “earworms.” It was bought back by the local stock owners and torn down for the value of the wood.
The next building you’ll find is the South Hero Bean Co. It was built next to the Canning Co. in 1918 by O.D. Fifield on land purchased from Twitchel and Champlin Co. It was occupied by Belden, Inc. of Genesco, N.Y. and here they processed dry beans for food and seed. Ten women were employed and providing ten to twenty weeks of employment. It was eventually purchased by O.D. Fifield and left to his son Fiske Fifield. It operated seasonally until the 1950s. It closed because of the low prices set by the government during the war. Milk became more profitable and farmers switched to milk. It was abandoned until it became occupied by a wanderer who tried to insulated and live in it but the town put a stop to that. Then the night before John Roy (His dad Bernard bought the land from Fiske Fifield) was going to sign papers to buy it, it was burned down by an arsonist.
The last building you’ll see is the remains of a Lumber House. Lumber was sold there and later the building was used as a storage shed by John Roy. It is now owned by hacketts/Maxhams.
  • 1901 Rutland Railroad starts the Island Line
  • 1915 Canning Factory was erected
  • 1918 Bean Factory built
  • 1930 Canning Factory closed and was dismantled and the wood was sold
  • 1950 Bean factory closed
  • 1960 Train stopped running because of a workers strike
  • 1961 Train station was dismantled. Slate roof sold off and the lumber was given to Jasper Santor and he used it to build the house across from the school that recently burned Not sure when--probably 70s--Bean Factory was burned down.