SIA Vermont Tour 2010: Part One

Each year the Society for Industrial Archaeology hosts a conference and a separate fall tour for its members. The fall tour is no papers and all fun (kind of like field trip days at school, but for a few days!) The Society traveled throughout Vermont during September 16-19, 2010. They were based in Montpelier, which allowed for easy access to the Barre Granite Quarries, the American Precision Museum, the Orange County Copper Mines, Burlington, walking tours of historic towns, and of course some covered bridges.

While in Colorado Springs in June 2010 for the SIA Conference (see previous posts: SIA 2010 Overview. Part One. Part Two. Part Three. Part Four), I had the pleasure of presenting a paper and meeting many members, some of whom were fall tour organizers. Well, they were psyched to meet someone in Vermont to help with aspects of the fall tour. Before I knew it, I volunteered to help with the Vermont tour! And I’m glad I did. While I did not have the opportunity to attend the entire tour, I joined in for the day on Saturday September 18. What fun we had! Without making this post too long, I’ll divide it into two parts. Read on for part one.

The bus departed from the Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier at a bright and early 7:30am (you can’t waste those touring days by sleeping in!) We headed north I-89 through the typical heavy morning fog, but by the time we arrived at the Green Mountain Power Plant No. 19 in Essex Junction, the shine was shining beautifully. Here we had a plant, which has been generating electricity at Hubbel Falls since 1917.  The 10,000 horsepower plant was at that time the largest in the state.  Today, Plant 19 provides power to 4,000 area homes, saving roughly 60,000 barrels of oil annually. {These facts are borrowed from the SIA Fall Tour brochure.}


Interior of the Green Mountain Power Plant



The power plant as seen along the river.


After the power plant, we headed to Shelburne Museum, where we visited the Ticonderoga, a restored 220 ft steamboat, which is a National Historic Landmark. This boat was in service on Lake Champlain from 1906-1955, when it was transported two miles overland, on a railroad specifically built for it. Today the steamboat is restored and visitors can walk inside. The guides were terrific, and one of them remembered traveling on the Ticonderoga as a young boy.


The Ticonderoga.



Just part of the machinery which attracts the SIA crowd.


From Shelburne Museum we traveled down the road to Shelburne Farms, where we saw perfect views of Lake Champlain, the impressive structure of the Breeding Barn, and partook in some cheese tasting! (It’s absolutely delicious.)


Overlooking Lake Champlain towards the Adirondack Mountains.



You can never have too many views of Lake Champlain.



Inside the breeding barn, which is currently undergoing restoration.



Inside the breeding barn, looking up at some of the metal ties.


Shelburne Museum and Shelburne Farms are absolutely beautiful and both warrant much longer visits if you have the time. However on limited time, you’d want to see both, which is cause for our busy day. After Shelburne Farms, we stopped at Magic Hat Brewery in South Burlington. (Who doesn’t love the process of brewing and some free samples?)

Already it had been quite a busy day and we were only at about 4pm by the time we left Magic Hat. What’s next? A barn in Richmond, VT and a dinner and lecture in a NHL. Stay tuned for more SIA fun!

Read Part Two.


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