The Central Kingdom Byway Side Trip

While not a formal part of the recognized Byway, we have developed four side trip itineraries for those looking to extend their travels and venture off the main corridor. They are the Southern Kingdom Side Trip, the Central Kingdom Side Trip, the Northwestern Kingdom Side Trip, and the Northeastern Kingdom Side Trip.

The Central Kingdom Side Trip branches off north of Willoughby Lake starting in Brownington and includes Orleans, Irasburg, Albany, Craftsbury, Hardwick, Greensboro, Glover and Barton.

Evansville & Brownington

Brownington has three unincorporated villages: Brownington, Brownington Center, and Evansville.  Brownington was granted to Daniel and Timothy Brown in 1790.  The population is about 1,000.

The village of Brownington was once bustling area in the early 18th century. The stage coach stopped here on its journey between Lower Canada and Boston, Massachusetts. The first road in the county, the Hinman Settler Road, went through Brownington, connecting the town of Greensboro VT with Derby.  Until the railroads chugged north in the mid-1800s, the village remained an important center of industry. The growth of water power also caused residents to move from hill towns to valleys, where the water could be found.

Today the northern part of the village is the Brownington Historic District and has been listed on the National Registry of Historic Places since 1973. The Orleans County Historical Society (OCHS) owns six buildings, one observatory, and 55 acres of land in and near this district. The six buildings are: the Samuel Read Hall House, the Cyrus Eaton House, the Twilight Homestead, the Twilight Farmhouse, the Old Stone House and the Lawrence barn. The three buildings not owned by the Historical Society, but also a part of the Historic District, are the Orleans Country Grammar   School building, the former Rice and Going Hotel, and the Brownington Congregational Church.

Orleans

Orleans is the largest village in Orleans County, VT with a population of just over 800.   In 1820, Roger Enos purchased land in the area from Ira Allen, who had been given original grants in the area but may have purchased this parcel from Herman Allen.  It was originally named “Barton Landing,” as a reminder that this was the first place where craft could be safely loaded for transportation along the Barton River to Lake Memphremagog.  The railroad reached the town in by 1860 and railroad accidents were not uncommon.

As the village of Barton Landing grew in size and economic importance, residents began to feel that the name made it seem subsidiary to Barton village. In 1909, the name was changed to Orleans. Though Ethan Allen never had anything to do with furniture manufacture, the company which bears his name has a plant in Orleans, and is one of the major employers in the area

Irasburg

Chartered in 1781, Irasburg has a population of just over 1,100.  It is one of three Vermont towns named for Ira Allen.  Also named as grantees are General Roger Enos, Sr., his wife, Jerusha, Sr., son Roger, Jr. and daughter Jerusha, Jr., who later became Allen’s wife. This charter is one of the few places in Vermont where women are listed as grantees in their own right.  The use of Sr. and Jr. to identify mother and daughter is also unique.   Fairly soon after the charter, Allen acquired all of the other grantees’ lands and he and the younger Jerusha were married in 1789.  As a wedding present, he transferred the title to all of Irasburg to her. In later years, Jerusha said that at the time Ira gave her the town, she didn’t think it was “worth a rush.”  Financial troubles caused all of Jerusha’s land to be sold at sheriff’s auction for back taxes. Ira’s nephew and adopted son Heman bought the land and gave it back to Jerusha.

The Old Heerman Mill was located in Irasburg and in 1862, Company E of the 9th Vermont Infantry was recruited, in part, from Irasburg.  Notables from Irasburg include the author, Howard Frank Mosher and impressionist landscape painter, Theodore Robinson.

Albany

Albany was chartered in 1782 and has a population of over 900.  Albany contains four villages: the incorporated village of Albany, and the unincorporated villages of AlbanyCenter, East Albany and South Albany. Originally named Lutterloh (after the first named grantee, Colonel Henry Emannuel Lutterloh, Washington’s Deputy Quartermaster General of the Continental Army), the town was renamed Albany in 1815. Some say the name has a connection to Ira Allen, while others maintain it has to do with New York having once proclaimed the area west of the Green Mountains to be part of AlbanyCounty.

The first road in the town was the Bayley-Hazen Military Road in 1779.  1820 was a big year as it was when the first gristmill, sawmill, and woolen mills were built.  The 1830’s saw noticeable population growth.  By 1870, there were 15 school districts in town.

More recently, Albany was host to the Annual Northeast Kingdom Music Festival, a popular weekend summer event that drew up to 2,000 people to the area to enjoy camping and live music.

Craftsbury

Craftsbury was chartered in 1781 and has a population of just over 1,200. The town includes the four unincorporated villages of Craftsbury Common, Mill Village, North Craftsbury and East Craftsbury. The town was chartered to Timothy Newell, Colonel Ebenezer Crafts and 61 associates, most of whom were members of a Massachusetts line regiment that had been organized early in the Revolution by Colonel Crafts.  In the charter the town was named Minden in honor of the 1759 defeat by the English and Germans of the French in the Prussian city of Minden, an event which helped to conclude the Seven Years War.

There is no record that Timothy Newell ever took any active part in settling the Vermont town, but Colonel Crafts did. He was born in Pomfret, Connecticut, in 1740, graduated from Yale in 1759, and for some time lived in Woodstock, Connecticut. His son, Samuel Chandler Crafts, later to become a Vermont statesman and governor, was born in 1768. At the time Minden was chartered, the Crafts lived in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, and Colonel Crafts was one of that community’s most respected members. In 1788 he went north, built a road eighteen miles long from Cabot to Minden, then cleared about a dozen acres at the site of the present Mill Village, built a house, a sawmill and the beginnings of a gristmill. In the winter of 1790-91, he brought his wife and several other families from Sturbridge. They arrived at Cabot in February to find four-foot-deep snow that obliged them to leave their horses behind. The men of the party, walking on snowshoes, pulled the women on hand sleds the eighteen miles to their new home.

According to the legislative journals the town’s name was changed from Minden to Craftsbury in 1790 because “from a similarity of sound the names of Lyndon and Mindon are often mistaken one for the other”.  The name Craftsbury was chosen to honor the town’s chief grantee and first settler.  In 1792, the first town meeting was held at the Colonel’s home and he was elected selectman. A little later he was elected as the town’s first representative to the Legislature. At that first town meeting his son, Samuel, was elected town clerk, an office which he held for thirty-seven years. In subsequent years Samuel held almost every office in Vermont government, including the governorship and a seat in the US Senate.

North Craftsbury was settled by the earliest pioneers, and was for many years the center of business and trade, not only for Craftsbury, but for Eden, Lowell, Albany, and portions of the neighboring towns. Continuing trouble with American Indians led to the successive founding of Craftsbury village (in a valley), East Craftsbury (on higher ground) and Craftsbury Common (on a hilltop).

Hardwick

Hardwick was chartered in 1781 and has a population of just over 3,000.  It contains the incorporated village of Hardwick and the unincorporated villages of East Hardwick and Mackville.   The likely source of the name is Hardwick, Massachusetts, the original home of several of the grantees, many of whom were prominent in Vermont by the time of the grant including Danforth Keyes, Jonas Fay, Eliakim Sponner and several Robinsons.

During the Revolutionary War, General George Washington ordered construction of the Bayley-Hazen Military Road to provide access into the interior of Vermont. It would prompt the development and settlement of Hardwick and East Hardwick. Permanent settlement began in 1793 when several families arrived from New   Hampshire. By 1859, when the population reached 1,402, the town had several sawmills and gristmills on the Lamoille River. There were also two tanneries. Over the years, other industries would include a woolen mill, tinware shop, and carriage factory.

The predominant business following the Civil War was granite quarrying, especially after the Portland & Ogdensburg Railway opened service through the town and facilitated shipment of stone. While most of the granite was quarried in nearby Woodbury, the stone was dressed and finished in Hardwick, largely at “Granite Junction”, where the rail lines met. Hardwick became known as the “Building Granite Center of the World.” By 1906, 1200 people were employed in the industry. Buildings around the country made with Hardwick granite include the Pennsylvania State Capitol, Chicago City Hall, Old Post Office Building in Washington, D.C., as well as numerous city halls and custom houses.

In 1988, Hardwick Village disincorporated and merged with the town.  Hardwick contains five places listed on the National Register of Historic Places including a building at 143 Highland Avenue, the Cobb School,  the Downtown Hardwick Village Historic District on Brush Street, the Downtown Hardwick Village Historic District on Main, Church, Maple and Mill Streets, and the Hardwick Street Historic District.

Hardwick is now known as a commercial center for the region’s farming population.  In recent years it has been nationally recognized and respected for it’s efforts in the local foods movement.  Hardwick was the subject of the book, “The Town that Saved Food’, written by author and Hardwick resident, Ben Hewitt.

Greensboro

Greensboro was chartered in 1781 and has a population of just over 700.   The town includes the places of Campbells Corners, East Greensboro, Gebbie Corner, Greensboro Four Corners, Greensboro Bend, The Four Corners, Tolmans Corner, and Burlington Point.  The town was named for Timothy Green, one of the original charter recipients and an original landowner under the charter. However, it does not appear that he ever visited the town, and his land was sold for non-payment of taxes a few decades after he received it. Only three of the original proprietors settled in the town.

The Bayley Hazen Military Road, built before the town was chartered, allowed its development. The road passed to the west of CaspianLake, and a wooden blockhouse was constructed there in 1779 on what is now known as Block House Hill.  In 1781, the blockhouse’s party of four was attacked by Abenaki; two were killed and two were captured.  A second road was built by Timothy Hinman between 1791 and 1793. This road, known as the Hinman Settler Road, branched off from the Bayley-Hazen in Greensboro and continued to Derby. These two roads were of major importance to the settlement of northern Vermont.

Glover

Glover was chartered in 1783 and has a population over just over 1,100.  The town was named for General John Glover, under whom most of the 62 grantees had served in a Massachusetts regiment during the Revolution.   John Glover was considered one of the most able officers in the country, and was held in high esteem by General Washington. At the outbreak of hostilities with Britain, he organized an amphibious regiment, leading 1,000 men, known as the “Marblehead Marines”. Glover also supervised the historic crossing of the Delaware River.  After retiring from active military service in 1782, Glover became a member of the Massachusetts constitutional ratification convention and a member of the state legislature. He died in 1797 and as far as anyone knows he never visited this Vermont town named in his honor.

The most famous story of Glover is that of Runaway Pond.  There was once a body of water called Long Pond located in the southeastern corner, until some townsfolk decided they would dig a channel so it could flow north to power mills that never had enough water during dry spells. One fine day in June of 1810, about sixty people started the ditching operation. All went well until the bottom of the channel they had dug suddenly seemed to dissolve: it was quicksand. Out rushed the entire lake, taking everything in its course, as a wall of water sometimes fifty feet high rushed toward Lake Memphremagog in Newport. It took six hours for the water to dash the twenty-seven miles to the big lake, and there wasn’t much left behind it in the valley; trees, stones and houses were all jumbled together. Even today the path the water took can still be seen, and a marker on Vermont Route 16 identifies the site of the mishap which has since been called Runaway Pond.

Barton

Barton was chartered in 1789 and has a population of just over 2,800.  Barton was originally to have been granted in 1781 and named for Providence, Rhode Island which was the home of many of the grantees.  It was not until eight years later that the charter was issued, and named for Colonel William Barton who planned and executed the capture of British General Prescott in 1777, considerably lessening the pressure on Washington’s troops in New Jersey.   Asa Kimball was the first settler in 1795 and built a gristmill in 1797 on the site later occupied by the chair factory.  William Barton built the first sawmill in 1796. The original name was “Barton Mills” in the early 19th century and was known as an industrial center.

Barton village is on the shores of what the French called Belle Lac (“BeautifulLake”), which is now known as Crystal Lake because of the crystal clear clarity of the water.  In 1759, during the French and Indian War, Robert Rogers led his Rogers’ Rangers on a raid of the Indian settlement of St. Francis in Quebec. After the successful raid, Rogers and his Rangers were pursued through northern Vermont by French and Indian forces as they made their way back to base. One of the areas they were chased through was the Crystal Lake area.