Vernon, VT Dam Burst & Flood, Mar 1936
Posted in the Brattleboro Forum
#1 Apr 3, 2011
Vernon, VT Dam Burst & Flood, Mar 1936
Posted July 13th, 2008 by Linda Horton
Big Vermont Dam Goes Out; Deaths In Its Path Feared.
BOSTON, Mass., March 18 (AP).---A $1,000,000 dam at Vernon, Vt., went roaring out before the force of the flood swollen Connecticut River Wednesday night. State police announced as they ordered everybody out of the valley below.
The power dam yielded at 11:10 p.m. Its powerhouse had been abandoned shortly before. A six-mile ice jam to the north had caused apprehension for several days.
Residents of Hatfield were marooned The report said Hadley and Sutherland were abandoned. Northfield was the first town in the path of the released waters. Some loss of life was feared.
New England previously had placed its death toll at eighteen because of floods which ravaged its lands the last week.
A southeast storm deluged the area. Mountain snows, softened by continued unseasonable warm temperatures, poured thousands of tons of water into raging rivers, which in turn engulfed communities, submerged highways and railroad trackage, swept bridges before them and cut lines of power, light and telephonic communication.
Most serious damage was along the winding valley of the Connecticut River and its tributaries, from the northern stretches of New Hampshire and Vermont to Long Island Sound, but scores of other streams in Western Massachusetts, Northern and Central Vermont added their toll.
Deaths Wednesday were:
Elizabeth, 7, and Donald Rattee, 5, drowned when they fell from a foot-bridge over a stream near Hancock, Vermont.
Mrs. Hiram S. Drury, Williamstown, Vt. dropped dead as she watched flood waters from a bursting dam.
Harold L. Smith, 42, father of twelve children, drowned at Windham, Vt., while attempting to divert water from flooding the basement of the lumber mill where he worked.
Harry R. Willis, railroad freight agent, and two children were swept to death, when a bridge on which they were standing swept into the Nashua River.
Dallas Morning News, Dallas, TX 19 Mar 1936
#2 Apr 3, 2011
Hinsdale Bridge - Hinsdale to Brattleboro, Vermont. The first bridge was built in 1804 by the Hinsdale Bridge and Sixth New Hampshire Turnpike Corporation, chartered in 1802. Frederick J. Wood in his The Turnpikes of New England (1919) says that this company "appears to have been primarily a toll-bridge corporation, although it had authority to build about ten miles of turnpike through Hinsdale and Winchester to connect with a branch of the Fifth Massachusetts [Turnpike] which was built to the state line prior to 1806." The Hinsdale Bridge was apparently replaced several times. Hinsdale, New Hampshire (Hinsdale, N.H.: Bicentennial Committee ) says that bridges here have "been carried away, by floods and ice, on the average of once in every ten years." The corporate name was shortened to "Hinsdale Bridge Corporation" in 1853, probably reflecting the relinquishment of any turnpike road the corporation had built.
In 1888, the towns of Hinsdale and Brattleboro joined together to purchase the property of the Hinsdale Bridge Corporation for $15,000, freeing the crossing. In 1903, the wooden bridge at this crossing was replaced by a toll-free iron bridge at a cost of $43,434.68. According to Hinsdale, New Hampshire, the Hon. Lemuel Franklin Liscom (1841-1916) "was active in securing the erection of a new iron bridge (320 foot single span) over the Connecticut opposite Brattleboro and was its Inspecting Engineer. He drew specifications for the super and substructure." Photographs of Liscom's 1903 bridge appear in Richard P. Corey and Ellen R. Cowie, "Archaeological Phase IB Survey of the Brattleboro-Hinsdale Connecticut River Bridge Crossing Project, BRF 2000(19)SC, Cheshire County, New Hampshire, and Windham County, Vermont." These photographs show that Liscom's bridge was a Pennsylvania through truss span quite similar in design to the present bridge at the site.
Liscom's bridge was replaced in 1920 by a 330-foot-long Pennsylvania truss, designed by John Storrs and built by the American Bridge Company. This is one of two single-span Pennsylvania truss bridges in New Hampshire, the other being the 352-foot span between Piermont and Bradford, Vermont.
Connecting the island to the mainland on the Hinsdale shore is a 200-foot-long Parker truss with horizontal stiffeners (built in 1926), spanning a back channel of the Connecticut River. The archaeological report cited above illustrates several wooden covered bridges that had previously stood at or near the present back channel crossing, as well as several covered bridges that preceded the 1920 span across the main channel.
#3 Apr 3, 2011
Who has information on the park that used to exist between Hinsdale and Brattleboro? It was washed away by flood. I believe it was located on the island where the arch bridges span to either end of the island one from Hinsdale and the other from Brattleboro.
#4 Apr 4, 2011
Do you know about it Mike?
#5 Apr 4, 2011
Google "Island Park Brattleboro", should give you a pretty good idea of what it was. I have seen pictures and the island was much larger before the flood.
#6 Apr 4, 2011
In 1824 Brattleboro was said to be the richest village of its size in New England. As in many other New England towns, water power was an important factor in the early industrial development of Brattleboro. Thanks mainly to the various mills that were constructed along the Whetstone Brook, by the mid-1800s Brattleboro had developed into a sizable industrial community. Wood-related industries, including papermaking, printing and furniture shops, flourished at the time. These provided a demand for products and machine shops and other allied businesses. Among the products of the mills and factories along the Whetstone during the 19th century were knitting machines, axes, rifles, knives, cider, lumber, flour, sewing silk, lead pipe, toilet seats, melodeons and gravestones. The commercial and industrial activities at mid-century supported a population of almost 5,000.
The railroad came to Brattleboro in 1849, following the river valley and reinforcing the Town's position as a trade center. Rail transportation helped both industrial expansion and tourism. One of Brattleboro's all-time largest employers, the Estey Organ Company, was founded in the following decade. In its century-long history it manufactured more than 500,000 reed and pipe organs, employed as many as 700 people at a time, and grew to be the world's largest organ manufacturer. The railroad also brought national and international travelers to Brattleboro in the mid 1850s to visit the Wesselhoeft and Lawrence water cures, based on homeopathic and hydropathic medicine.
Brattleboro was always a printing and publishing town...
#7 Apr 4, 2011
The 1930s and the depression brought economic hardship to Brattleboro. There were many lay-offs at the local mills and factories and the Estey Organ Company almost went under. During the 1940s, Brattleboro's industries made a comeback as they adjusted to the war-time needs. Estey made bomb boxes and other war related products.
Tin can and paper collections and victory gardens were part of Brattleboro life during the war years. Among the few war-related contracts obtained by town industries was an order for 1,200 chaplain organs from Estey in 1940. An important war effort was the sale of war bonds. The Kiwanis Club established a war fund which raised nearly $34,000 later used to buy the land for Living Memorial Park. As the war ended, housing for the returning veterans became a problem. To help alleviate this situation the Veteran's Village was created on South Main Street to temporarily house soldiers until permanent homes became available. These 40 duplexes, located where the Little League field is now, were...
#8 Apr 4, 2011
I have been able to find mention of the park in several sites, but as of yet I have been unable to find mention of the flood that destroyed the park. What I am really interested in is the flood.
#9 Apr 4, 2011
It's a home to the homeless now in the summer.
#10 Apr 4, 2011
They built feeder dam all over the place...that would minimize the events of 1930?
#11 Apr 5, 2011
Was it the 1930 flood that took out the park or was that a separate event? Crazy that a MA man died in his car at Wal-Mart on Thursday and they found him on Saturday. I was at Wal-Mart during that time and feel rather clueless. I guess I now understand what you previously meant by invisible people in plain sight.
#12 Apr 5, 2011
The increasing prices of groceries probably gave him a heart attack...
#13 Apr 5, 2011
I believe it was the 1938 hurricane...
Our town his a book on the "history of Hinsdale"...bet you it is in there...
#14 Apr 5, 2011
The Brattleboro historical society would have that information...
#15 Apr 6, 2011
It's worth a try, thank you Mike.
#16 Apr 6, 2011
Sep 21, 1938:
The Great New England Hurricane
#17 Apr 6, 2011
The hurricane then raced northward across Massachusetts, gaining speed again and causing great flooding. In Milton, south of Boston, the Blue Hill Observatory recorded one of the highest wind gusts in history, an astounding 186 mph. Boston was hit hard, and "Old Ironsides"--the historic ship U.S.S. Constitution--was torn from its moorings in Boston Navy Yard and suffered slight damage. Hundreds of other ships were not so lucky.
The hurricane lost intensity as it passed over northern New England, but by the time the storm reached Canada around 11 p.m. it was still powerful enough to cause widespread damage. The Great New England Hurricane finally dissipated over Canada that night.
#18 Apr 6, 2011
All told, 700 people were killed by the hurricane, 600 of them in Long Island and southern New England. Some 700 people were injured. Nearly 9,000 homes and buildings were destroyed, and 15,000 damaged. Nearly 3,000 ships were sunk or wrecked. Power lines were downed across the region, causing widespread blackouts. Innumerable trees were felled, and 12 new inlets were created on Long Island. Railroads were destroyed and farms were obliterated. Total damages were $306 million, which equals $18 billion in today's dollars.
#19 Apr 6, 2011
Climate Variability and Socioeconomic
Consequences of Vermont’s Natural
Hazards: A Historical Perspective
The climate of Vermont has been
described as changeable, with inherent
variations.... Today, in the face of
inherent climate shifts and enhanced
greenhouse gas effects, understanding the
role of climate variability becomes
#20 Apr 6, 2011
For example, the Great Flood of 1927 resulted from record rainfall totals
produced by tropical storm remnants on November 3, following
October precipitation totals that were already 50 percent above normal.
As this decaying storm tracked directly along the spine of the Green
Mountains, streams rose so rapidly that there was little time for warning.
The Winooski River rose 40–45 feet above its normal level, causing
land and settlement along the river to bear the brunt of the estimated
$30 million in economic losses. The 1927 flood was greater than the 100-
year flood on many rivers and remains today as the flood of record at
many gauging stations. Eighty-four of the eighty-five fatalities during
this New England-wide flood occurred in Vermont. In addition, thousands
of dairy cows and other farm animals drowned. Rich topsoil on...
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