Very aptly and truthfully has it been said that, "history is a bridge connecting the now with the past." It is indeed a bridge, over which we may pass to the hallowed days of which we all love to hear, -- a passage whose every plank is the record of some noble life or deed, urging us to emulate their virtues, or, at other points, warning us from the errors and vices into which many have fallen. It is our purpose, then, to pass with the reader over this bridge, connecting the prosperous present with the toil laden past of Chittenden County, involving also a cursory glance at the history of its parent, the State. A hasty journey it must necessarily be, however, -- a mere superficial glance at the principal points of interest on the way, in which it shall be our endeavor to present the truth, and to preserve many, or at least some, facts which would otherwise soon become enshrouded in the oblivion that surrounds but too many of the heroic deeds and sacrifices attending the conception and birth of the old democratic State of Vermont, a territory that has no parallel in its peculiar beauties, revealed in the variety, the majesty and exquisite loveliness of its scenery, and whose history establishes a just claim to its title of “The Classic Ground of America."

      There are good reasons for believing that the first civilized people who visited New England, were a colony of Norwegians, or Northmen, who emigrated thither, according to the original Icelandic accounts of their voyages of discovery, as follows:

"In the spring of A. D. 986, Eric the Red, so named from the fact of his having red hair, emigrated from Iceland to Greenland, and formed a settlement there. In 994, Biarne, the son of Heriulf Bardson, one of the settlers who accompanied Eric, returned to Norway, and gave an account of discoveries he had made to the south of Greenland. On his return to Greenland, Leif, the son of Eric, bought Biarne's ship, and, with a crew of thirty five men, embarked on a voyage of discovery, A. D. 1000. After sailing some time to the southwest, they fell in with a country covered with a slaty rock, and destitute of good qualities, and which, therefore, they called Helluland (slate-land). They then continued southerly until they found a low flat coast, with white sand cliffs, and immediately back, covered with wood, whence they called the country Markland (wood land). From here they sailed south and west, until they arrived at a promontory which stretched to the east and north, and sailing round it turned to the west, and sailing to the westward, passed between an island and the mainland, and entering a bay through which flowed a river, they concluded to winter there. Having landed, they built a house to winter in, and called the place Leifsbuthir (Leifs booths). Soon after this, they discovered an abundance of vines, whence they named the country Vinland, or Wineland, which corresponds with the present country at the head of Narragansett Bay, in Rhode Island."

      Subsequent to this came the discoveries of Columbus, in 1492; the English discoveries in 1497, followed, during the same year, by the Portuguese; the Spanish, in 1506, and finally came the French, in 1524, who subsequently discovered the Gulf and River St. Lawrence, and first began a colony upon it, whence they soon spread to the heart of the country, to which they had an easy means of access by way of the great lakes, whose waters head within a few miles of the tributaries of the Mississippi, which flows across half the continent to the Gulf of Mexico. In a few years they had explored this vast region, and established among the savages missions and trading posts, first in the forests of Canada, than in the West, and finally in New York and in the territory included within the present State of Vermont.

      In the meantime England had been pushing her explorations and discoveries; but the French laid claim to nearly the whole country, confining the English to a narrow strip of land along the Atlantic coast, thus transplanting the jealousies and rivalries which had long made them enemies in the Old World, to the New Continent. The French sought the alliance of the Indian tribes, and years of warfare followed, in which, however, the English at last succeeded in gaining possession of a large amount of the land. The first hostilities between them originated on William's accession to the throne of England, in 1689, which terminated in the peace of Ryswic, in 1697. Queen Anne's war, so called, commenced in 1702, and continued to the peace of Utretcht, in 1713. The third controversy was declared by George II. in 1744, and continued until the preliminaries of peace were signed between France and England, at Aix la Chapelle, in 1748. The last conflict between these powers, anterior to the American revolution, was formally declared by Great Britain, in 1756, and was reciprocated the same year on the part of France, and finally terminated by the capture of Montreal, in September, 1760, when the whole Province of Canada was surrendered to Great Britain.

      During this period of the French wars, the territory now included within the county was the chief point of rendezvous for the French and their Indian allies, in their hostile excursions against the English settlements in the valley of the Connecticut. It was through here they generally led their captives and carried their plunder, their usual route both in going and returning being along Missisquoi Bay and Winooski River, crossing the short carrying place between the river and Mallett's Bay. It was along here the suffering captives from Deerfield, in the dead of winter, in 1704, were led on their way to Canada; and here also was led the lad Enos STEVENS, son of Capt. Phineas STEVENS, in 1748; and on the east shore of Missisquoi Bay, the year previous, Mrs. Jemima HOWE found her son Caleb perishing with hunger. Early skirmishes took place, too, within the territory, -- one as early as 1709, on the Winooski, in which Liet. John WELLS and John BURT were killed, followed by another at the mouth of the river, where several of the French and Indians were killed in turn. Upon this river, also, Capt. John BARNET lost his life in a skirmish, in 1776. Indeed, the whole territory teems with tales and anecdotes of those days of bloodshed.

      These early wars, however, led to the first settlement of the State by civilized people. Samuel CHAMPLAIN is supposed to have been the first to visit the territory, having sailed up the lake he discovered, and which has since borne his name, in 1609. In 1664, M. de Tracy, then Governor of New France (the French possessions in America.), entered upon the work of erecting a line of fortifications from the mouth of the Richelieu (Sorel) River into Lake Champlain. The first year he constructed three forts upon the river, and the next spring, 1665, he ordered Capt. de LA MOTTE to proceed up Lake Champlain and erect another fortress upon an island which he designated. It was completed that same year and named Fort St. Anne, and afterwards it was called Fort La Motte, from the name of its builder, and which in the end gave the name to the island on which it stood. The remains of the fort are now to be seen, and the island still bears the name. In 1690, a fort was built by Capt. de Narm, [In the Doc. Hist. of New York, this name is given as de Warm.] at Chimney Point, in Addison County, about which a thriving settlement soon sprang up; but it was not until 1724, at Fort Dummer, that the first permanent settlement was commenced, and the garrison of this fort were for several years the only white inhabitants of the territory.

      After the close of the last French war, in 1759 '60, the settlement of the country rapidly increased, as their old enemy, Canada, had been transformed from a hostile to a friendly neighbor. Township charters were rapidly granted by New Hampshire, under command of King George III., to whom the inhabitants were only nominally subject, however, but obeyed only the decrees of their own committees and conventions. At one of these conventions, January 15, 1777, the New Hampshire Grants were declared to be an independent State, "by the name, and forever hereafter to be called, known, and distinguished by the name of New Connecticut, alias Vermont, etc." The latter name, derived from the French verd mont, or Green Mountains, it still retains, and which has gathered about itself, through all the vicissitudes which its sons have passed, a halo of glory that shall pass away only with the demise of Time. Such, briefly, is the outline of Vermont's history.

      On February 11, 1779, the State was divided into two counties, the Green Mountains forming the dividing line, the portion on the east being called Cumberland, and that on the west Bennington County. Each county was divided into two shires, that on the east into Westminster and Newbury, and Bennington and Rutland on the west. This division of counties remained till the extra session of the legislature, in February, 1781, when the county of Rutland was incorporated from Bennington, and Windsor and Orange Counties were incorporated from Cumberland, and the name of Cumberland altered to Windham. Rutland County in turn extended through to the northern line of the State for a period of four years, eight months and five days, during which time the courts were held at Tinmouth. The State, then, on October 18, 1785, dismembered the old county, incorporating from it a new county, called Addison, which in turn extended to the north line of the State, and made the towns of Addison and Colchester half shires. But the connection of Chittenden with Addison County only continued for the term of two years, and Colchester had not the honor of holding the courts of that county but one term. Before the next stated term, at Colchester, the county of Chittenden, named in honor of Thomas Chittenden, the first governor of Vermont, was set off from Addison and incorporated into a distinct county, October 22 1787.

* As an error has crept into a great many local works, relative to the date of this incorporation, we quote the following from Deming's Vermont Officers, which clears up the apparent mystery: "Zadock Thompson, in his history of Vermont, says, that Chittenden County was incorporated October 22 1782, and Addison County February 27, 1787. This is a mistake as to both counties, as will be seen by the following extract of a letter from Mr. Thompson to a friend, who had addressed him on the subject: `While in Montpelier a few days since, I was induced, by your suggestions, to examine the manuscript acts in the office of the Secretary of State, and I there found that Addison County was incorporated October 18, 1785, and that Chittenden County was incorporated October 22, 1787.'"
      It then embraced all the territory between the north lines of Ferrisburgh, Monkton, Bristol, Lincoln, and Warren, and the Province line, and was bounded on the west by the west line of the State, which followed the deepest channel of the lake, passing east of the Four Brothers, and west of Grand Isle and Isle La Motte, and on the east by the west lines of Northfield, Montpelier, Calais, Woodbury, Hardwick, and Greensborough, to the northwest corner thereof, and then in the most direct course on town lines to the north line of the State. But the population and business of the county increased to such an extent that it soon became necessary that its turn should come to be reduced in territory; and on November 5, 1792, a new county on the north was incorporated, by the name of Franklin. The line that separated Chittenden from Franklin County commenced "on the west line of Orange County [as then established,] at the northeast corner of Worcester; thence westerly on the north line of Worcester, Stowe, Mansfield, Underhill, Westford, and Milton, to the waters of Lake Champlain; thence across to the north of South Hero by the deepest channel between that and North Hero; and thence on the west line of the State." Still further deductions, however, have been made from the original limits: October 20, 1794, Starksboro was annexed to Addison County; November 9, 1802, the county of Grand Isle was formed, and South Hero and adjacent islands were set off to form a part of that county. In addition, the county of Jefferson (now Washington) was incorporated November 1, 1810, and to form a part of which, the towns of Mansfield, Stowe, Waterbury, Duxbury, Fayston, Waitsfield, Moretown, Middlesex, and Worcester, were taken from Chittenden. In 1839, the western part of the town of Mansfield was annexed to the town of Underhill, and re-annexed to the county of Chittenden.

      Thus the county is situated at the present time, lying between lat. 44° 7' and 44° 42', and between long. 3° 41' and 4° 14', bounded north by Franklin and Lamoille Counties, east by Washington and Lamoille, south by Addison, and west by the deepest channel of Lake Champlain, with an average length from north to south of about twenty six miles; and from east to west, including the waters of the lake, of twenty three miles, containing an area of about Sao square miles, divided into fifteen townships and one city, in addition to Buel's Gore.

      In surface, the county is diversified by lofty mountains, deep gorges and ravines, gentle acclivities, wide spread verdant valleys, rivers, lakelets and brooks, affording a landscape that is not only unexcelled in Vermont, but which vies with many far more pretentious localities in foreign lands. Taken together with its environs, it forms a scene upon which Nature has lavished her treasures of beauty "with a full and unwithdrawing hand." On the eastern part of its territory the Green Mountains rear their rocky crests with a sharply defined contour, Mansfield and Camel's Hump cleaving the clouds at an altitude of 4,329 and 4,083 feet respectively, the highest peaks in the range, while the western part of the territory lies upon the Red Sandrock chain, one of the four divisions of mountain systems in the State, having a gradual slope on the eastern side, and a bold, rugged escarpment on the western.

      The principal streams are the rivers Winooski or Onion, Lamoille, La Plotte, Brown's and Huntington. The Winooski, one of the largest rivers in the State, enters near the center of the eastern line of the county, flows a westerly course and falls into the Champlain between Burlington and Colchester, thus completing its course of seventy miles, dung which it waters 970 square miles of territory, and affords sites for unlimited mill power. Nature, circumstances, and historical lore have combined in rendering this stream one of peculiar interest, sufficient at least for it to merit amore euphonious cognomen than the antiscorbutic "Onion," consequently we have dropped it in this work. A controversy has long existed relative to the derivation of its name, the popular theory being that Winooski is an Indian name, composed of two words in the Abinaqui, or Algonquin tongue, winoos, onions, or leeks, and ki, land, so that its literal signification is land of onions. But as there are at least six different styles of authography used by different writers, we cannot understand why they should not affect the roots of the word According to a French map of 1732, the river is called Ounousqui. In the letters of John A. GRAHAM, published at London, in 1797, Mr. GRAHAM gives the following account of the naming of the river "Onion:" "A Mr. Peleg SUNDERLAND, [who was also appointed by the Grand Committee, at Bennington, as guide to Maj. John BROWN, in 1775, on his mission to Canada to treat with the Indians respecting the approaching war,] in 1761, while hunting for beaver on this stream, lost his way, and was nearly exhausted with fatigue and hunger, when a party of Indians fortunately met him, and with great humanity, relieved his wants and saved him from perishing. Their provisions were poor; but what they had they freely gave, and their kindness made amends for more costly fare. Their whole store consisted of onions, and Mr. SUNDERLAND then gave the stream, near which he was so providentially preserved, the name of Onion River, which it has retained ever since." During the early French colonial wars it was called French River. But so much for this; we have at least, we think, shown good cause for dropping the vegetable portion of its name. The alluvial flats along its valley are narrow until the river has passed the western range of the Green Mountains, when they become broad and fertile. Its rocky gorges, etc., are spoken of in connection with the sketch of Burlington, so we will omit their further notice at this point.

      Bolton Falls, on this stream, in the eastern part of the County, are well worth visiting. They form a wonderful evidence of the mighty agency of water, for an ordinary observer cannot fail to discover that the high bluffs of rock on either side were once united, and formed a barrier through which the stream has gradually worn its deep and narrow channel. The contemplative mind at once reverts to the time when this barrier existed, and beholds a long and narrow lake extending up the valley to Montpelier, and discovers the reason why the streams emptying into the head of this lake should, in the still water, deposit the sediment forming the numerous terraces that are found in different portions of its valley. In the tranquil waters of this lake the sediment brought down in the floods of the different streams emptying into it, would settle at the bottom and partially fill it up. Upon the opening of the rocky barrier, like the breaking away of a flume or a portion of the dam of a mill pond partly filled with sediment, the running stream would sweep down a portion of this sediment, by cutting a channel through it, either in the center, leaving portions at each side, or upon one side and leaving the other remaining. Thus the smoothly rounded racks that project from the sides of the valley, as well as the striated ones near the bed of the river, bear unmistakable testimony that by some abrading agency, in which water played a conspicuous part, the rocks have been worn down so as to give greater width to the valley.

      The Lamoille River is not as large as the Winooski, nor quite as long; yet it has, in a lesser degree, the same wild, picturesque channel, and affords many excellent specimens of terraces. It rises in Greensboro, from the union of several streams (formerly from Runaway Pond), runs southwest to Hardwick, when it turns northwesterly, passes through the middle of Lamoille County, the southern part of Franklin County, and finally joins Lake Champlain in the northwestern part of this county, in the town of Milton. It was discovered by Champlain, in 1609, and called by him la Mouette, the French for mew, or gull, a species of water fowl, which were very numerous about the mouth of the stream. In Mr. Anger's map of his surveys, in 1732, it is called la riviere a la Mouelle, probably a mistake in the engraver in not crossing his t's. "Thus," says Mr. Thompson, "to the mere carelessness of a French engraver are we indebted for the smooth, melodious sounding name Lamoille."

      Brown's River, so named from Joseph BROWN, an early settler upon its banks, in the town of Jericho, originates in Underhill and thence flows a southwesterly course through the northern part of Jericho, into Essex, where it turns north and passes through Westford into Fairfax, in Franklin County, and there unites with the Lamoille. It is twenty miles in length.

      Huntington River rises in the southern part of Huntington, and after a rapid, serpentine course over a gravel or stony bottom for about twenty miles, empties into the Winooski, in the town of Richmond. This stream, from the many specimens of terraces its valley consists, its rocky gorges, etc., is called one of the most interesting tributaries of the Winooski.

      The La Plotte is a small stream, only fifteen miles in length, rising in the southeastern part of Hinesburgh, and flows a westerly course through a portion of Charlotte and Shelburne, into the head of Shelburne Bay. As the interesting tradition relative to the origin of its name is spoken of in connection with the Shelburne sketch, we will defer further mention here. These are the principal streams of the county, though there are many of almost equal importance, affording many mill sites, and ample irrigation to the soil.

      No inland lakes of importance are found, though there are several small ponds, Shelburne and Hinesburgh in the southern part of the county being the largest. But the unequaled Champlain lies upon its western border, stretching north and south as far as the eye can reach, while directly opposite, on its western shore, the blue Adirondacks spread far into the interior at various points projecting their jagged spurs into the lake, and often presenting lofty headlands, waving with forests or frowning in bleak masses of naked granite, while wide fields spread between these headlands, teaming with flocks and herds, and redolent in beauty and fertility. Not less charming is the scene presented on its eastern shore, though of a softer tone, and more of a pastoral beauty, while beyond, the horizon is limited by the bold and serrated outline of the Green Mountains. Still, this scene of transcendent natural beauty on either shore, is dimmed by the exquisite loveliness of the lake itself, which divides them. Calm and blue its waters lie, placid as the cloud shadows that fleck its bosom, reflecting the mountains and headlands, and studded with numerous islands to variegate and adorn the scene -- some of which are mere rocky shafts shooting up from the surface of the waters; others, decked in their native emerald, gleam like gems upon its breast; while others, of alluvial formation, glow in their soft and gentle loveliness, and are unsurpassed in their exuberant fertility.

      Reader, at the beginning of this chapter we likened history to a bridge, and purposed to journey with you across it, o'er the beautiful country we have attempted to describe, to the days when its history, so far as we are able to learn, was not. During this journey the beautiful Champlain must Ire the principal point of interest, for around no other section of our beautiful country cluster historical associations so brilliant and memorable. For a century and a half, this lake, appropriately named by the Indians Caniadere-Guarante, that is, " the lake which is the gate of the country," was rendered classic ground by successive deeds of daring, by bloody forays, by the romances of border warfare, and by the conflicts of fleets and armies. During those merciless contests, in which France and England were the allies of savage tribes; in the long and sanguinary conflicts between those great powers; in the war of the Revolution, and that of 1812, the whole course of the lake was stained with blood, and emblazoned by feats of glory.

      When Samuel Champlain, in 1609, entered upon the waters which have perpetuated his name, silence and solitude brooded over the charming scene. Grand primeval forests covered the territory where the verdant fields of Chittenden County now lie, with not even an Indian wigwam to relieve its desolation and stillness, for continuous savage wars had driven its transient population into the recesses of the forests, and beyond the mountain barriers for protection. But this peace and solitude were soon to be broken. Even upon Champlain's first visit his arquebus carried fear and death to the hearts of the savages, some of whom he met on the New York side of the southern part of the lake. Soon after, canoes and batteaux, in summer, were gliding over its pure waters on errands of blood and rapine, or, in winter, a highway of its crystal pavement was formed for the same purpose, over which the French and their savage associates traversed the lake, thence up the Winooski, and penetrating the gorges of the Green Mountains, devastated, often amid the snows and storms of winter, the fairest villages of New England. Later on, upon its blue waters and sequestered shores, vast armies, clothed in the pomp and panoply of modern warfare, have gathered. But as our brief account of the war of 1812, the war of the Revolution, etc., properly belongs to articles under these respective heads, we must defer particular mention until they, in their order, are reached.

      As settlements began to spring up in the State, and the forests to recede before the sturdy strokes of the pioneer, trade and commerce began to assert their rights. As Skeensboro (now Whitehall) was the first point at which the settlers touched the lake on their way north, and as the intercourse became more frequent between Connecticut, Massachusetts and the new settlements, Major Skeene, after whom the place was named, to accommodate the small business which was springing up, built a sloop in 1770, and with it opened a communication with the settlements on the borders of the lake and Canada. This was probably the first vessel which made any regular trips through the lake, or which was used for the purposes of trade. Soon after this, however, the Revolutionary war broke out, stopping all further settlements, and even drove off nearly all the people who had come, so that the navigation of the lake was returned to the uses of the military power.

      After the close of the war, settlements rapidly sprung up and trade with the Provinces was soon commenced with redoubled vigor, so that the white wings of the trading sloops, and the rafts of heavy timber, dotted the whole length of the lake. But the great stride in progress was not until 1808, one year after Robert Fulton made the memorable trial trip of his steamboat on the Hudson. It seems that parties in Burlington were the first to see, or at least to take practical advantage of, the new field opened by this event; for during this year they launched the second practical steamboat ever made in the world, and during the following year, 1809, it was completed and commenced navigating the lake, just two hundred years after Champlain had entered upon its waters in his bark canoe. The owners and builders of this boat were two brothers, James and John WINANS. It was in appearance similar to a large class canal boat, except being about forty feet longer and six feet wider. Her decks were clear, having no pilot house, being steered by a tiller, and her engine an horizontal one, being all under deck, only the smoke pipe appearing above. There was but one room below, about twenty five by eighteen feet, in which were berths upon the side, and which was used for a dining room as well as for a sleeping apartment. She was fitted with a secondhand engine and boilers; cylinder twenty inches by three feet, "side level bell crank," with a large balance wheel some ten feet in diameter, -- withal very poor machinery. But they were the best that could be procured at that time, as manufacturers of general machinery little understood the proportioning of machinery to resist the power of steam. The consequence was that the boat was constantly subject to "break downs," which were a part of her programme, and could be relied upon to make a trip from Whitehall to St. Johns and back in about a week. In October, 1815, however, she had her last "break down." On her trip from St. Johns the connecting rod became detached from the crank, and before the engine could be stopped, it was forced through the bottom of the boat and she was sunk a wreck near Ash Island, a few miles south of the Isle Aux Noix. The Messrs. WINANS took out her engine and boilers, and sold them to the Lake Champlain Steamboat Company.

      The great improvements made in steamboat building since the time of the building of the "Vermont" are well known. Even as early as 1815, a steamer was built on the lake whose speed doubled that of its predecessor. This boat, the “1st Phoenix," met a sad fate, being destroyed by fire on the 5th of September, 1819, causing the death of six of its passengers. It may be well to state, however, that this is the only wreck or conflagration which has occurred on the lake with an attendant loss of life. From this time forward boats were rapidly put out, increasing in power and size, until the present "floating palaces" have attained almost perfection. Navigation companies were established, and steamboat property came to be the most profitable in which one could invest money. Its profit was diminished, however, by the advent of its near relative, the locomotive, which took a large share of its business. Still, there is an extensive business done on the lake at the present time, which will doubtless continue, notwithstanding the building of railroads. We should like, did space permit, to add a sketch of the establishment and progress of the several transportation companies, but as it does not, we shall have to be content with giving, on the opposite page, a table of the steamers that have been built on the lake, their dimensions, by whom built, date of building, etc., which we hope will prove of interest to many. Yet it may not be invidious to remark, that The Champlain Transportation Co. is the oldest company existing on the lake, and that to its enterprise and energy is owing, in a great degree, the past and present prosperity of the transportation business. As early as October 26, 1826, the Vermont legislature granted its charter, the following well known names appearing as the company: Ezra MEACH, Martin CHITTENDEN, Stephen S. KEYS, Luther LOOMIS, Roswell BUTLER, and Eleazer H. DEMING.


      The geological formation of this county does not materially differ, in general structure, from that of most of the other counties of the State. Its rocks are distributed, like those of the others, in parallel ledges, or ranges, extending nearly in a north and south direction. Passing eastward from the lake shore, the first of these veins is a ledge of Trenton limestone, which enters Charlotte from Addison County, underlying nearly the whole extreme western part of that town, where it finally passes under the lake, to appear again in Grand Isle and Isle La Motte, thence extending into Canada. Although this rock has four distinct or chief varieties, one very soon learns to distinguish it from all others, by its common characters of black schistose layers, associated with slaty seams of limestone and occasionally argillaceous matter. There are some varieties, however, that can be assigned to this formation only by their fossils, in which the whole group is peculiarly rich. The thickness of the Trenton limestone is 400 feet in New York, and is stated by Prof. ADAMS, in his second report, to be of the same thickness in Vermont; but in one of his notebooks he suggests that it may be even thicker. Mr. HAGAR, however, in his "Geology of Vermont," says he should think that 400 feet is rather too great a thickness for it, as it generally appears in Vermont, though he has made no measurements to settle the question.

      A bed of Utica slate comes next in order, crossing the western part of Charlotte and Shelburne, thence passing under the lake and cropping out again in the extremity of Colchester Point, and thence across to Grand Isle County. This formation is a continuation of the calcareous shales of the Hudson River group of rocks downward, until they meet the slaty limestone of the Trenton limestone, and it is extremely difficult to distinguish between them and the shales of the Hudson River group in Vermont, except by their fossils. The range has a thickness of about one hundred feet.

      Next to this bed comes a range of rocks known as Hudson River slates, about a mile in width, passing through Charlotte and Shelburne, the western portion of Colchester, and thence under the lake. Lithologically, it consists of deposits of pure and impure limestone, clay slate, calcareous slate, interstratified with small beds of limestone, often sparry, silicious slate, sandstones, brecciated limestone, and slate filled with veins of calcite, etc. Prof. Thompson speaks of this variety in Chittenden County as follows: "The black slate is generally contorted or crushed, and abounds in seams of white calcite, varying from a line to a foot in thickness. Still there are places where the spar has not been injected, and where the lamination has not been disturbed. Cases of this kind may be seen on the eastern side of Pottier's Point, and at Appletree Point. But all this slate doubtless contains too much lime, and is too brittle to be used for any better purpose than making roads. This slate, in many places, particularly where it is fragmentary, has its surface covered with a black glazing, giving it very much the appearance of anthracite. This may be seen near the meeting house in Charlotte, and at Rock Point, and it has led some to suppose that coal might be found in connection with it. But I believe very little, if any, money has been thrown away, in the vain search for coal in this county." The group is 930 feet in thickness, and is the highest member of the lower silurian rocks.

      Parallel with and adjacent to this range is an immense bed of red sandrock, having a mean width of about four miles, and extending through nearly the whole length of the county, making the principal rock formation of the towns of Charlotte, Hinesburgh, Shelburne, Colchester and Milton.

      Stratigraphically considered, this bed occupies the position of the Medina Group, of New York, or its equivalent, the Levant series of Pennsylvania and Virginia. The sandstones and shales bear a close resemblance to those of the latter, not only in color, but in the profusion of fucoid like markings which they display on some of the parting surfaces. The series of reddish and gray limestones which rest upon these massive arenaceous beds form an interesting feature in the geology of Vermont. Their altercation with layers of sandstone and shale, and their frequently reddish tint, would lead us to regard them as a continuation of the lower mass under somewhat new formative conditions. In the prolongation of this belt of sandstones and limestones toward the north, as in the vicinity of Burlington, the latter mass is seen to consist, in great part, of a pinkish white, fine grained limestone, which toward its base contains layers of reddish limestone, interstratified with red sandstone, making the transition from the arenaceous to the calcareous form of deposit. This latter variety forms a very durable and handsome building material. The whole formation, however, embraces a great variety of rocks, and there is some difficulty experienced in associating them together, because of the general absence of fossils. The general variety is a reddish brown or chocolate colored sandstone. It becomes calcareous, and is frequently interstratified with dolomitic layers of corresponding color. The grains of sand composing the rock are often transparent, sometimes mixed with minute fragments of feldspar. A slight metamorphic action has sometimes rendered the grains nearly invisible, and made the whole rock compact. North of Burlington the variety is mostly red and variegated dolomites. At Milton a grayish quartz rock appears, probably equivalent to the red rock. The red color is owing to the change in the combination of the iron which enters into its composition, produced by heat.

      Extending through the center of the county, with a mean width of about three miles, underlying portions of the towns of Hinesburgh, Charlotte, Shelburne, Williston, Burlington, Essex, Colchester, Westford and Milton, is a range of Eolian limestone, or marble, one of the most important and useful rocks in Vermont. It furnishes the beautiful white marble, equal to the finest Italian, known all over the world as the product of this State. Such a rock, and such marble, certainly deserve a name as beautiful and as euphonical as the epithet Eolian. There is more variety in the limestone of this group than in almost any other formation in the State; yet the variations are mostly slight in themselves chemically, but considerable as far as external appearance is concerned, producing the numerous shades of variegated marble, each surpassing the other in beauty, ranging from the purest white to inky blackness. An excellent opportunity is afforded the curious for comparing our native marbles, both of this and other States, with that imported from Italy, at the extensive manufactory of J. W. GOODELL & Co., of Burlington, where immense quantities are kept on hand, enabling one to examine the rocks side by side, both before and after they have been cut and polished. An excellent quality of variegated marble, containing many beautiful fossils, is quarried near Mallett's Bay, in Colchester. The coloring matter in this species of limestone is usually derived from minute particles of slaty matter disseminated through them. Hence they never fade or disappear, or change their position in the slabs after they have been quarried. The occasional stains which appear may be produced by a small portion of pyrites, affording a dirty, brownish hue. Most of the iron rust stain upon the blocks of marble at the mills is temporarily produced by particles of iron  worn from the saws. The thickness of the Eolian limestone bed is estimated at 2,000 feet.

      Leaving the vein of marble, we find next in order a deposit of clay slate, about a mile in width, extending from the northeastern part of Milton to the southern line of the county. The varieties in clay slate are few, unless we refer to color. The rock is usually simple and homogeneous, composed of finely comminuted, hardened clay. If it has a good deal of iron, and if this is passing to the state of peroxide, we shall have red slate, such as is quarried within the limits of New York, and in several localities in Vermont. The red and gray slates, and also those of a greenish color, are also found. Whoever will compare a bed of clay where the layers have been deposited quietly above one another, with the slates used for roofing, will notice a strong resemblance of form and composition; and he cannot but suspect that the latter has been derived from the former. He can, if he will, trace out the steps of the process. Clay hardened by the sun and filled with cracks, seems to be a sort of first step in the process. Among the newer sandstones he will see similar layers, called shale, which is sometimes only a little harder than clay. These changes are produced in the shales by the more powerful influence of metamorphic agencies, which generally also super-induce other divisional planes in the rock, such as cleavage and joints. But cleavage planes in most of the clay slates of Vermont, coincide essentially with those of deposition; and the slaty layers seem to be mostly strata or laminae modified. If the modifying force were pressure, it seems to have operated to convert the planes of lamination and stratification into those of cleavage, increasing the number of the latter. The bed in this county, however, might more properly be termed shales, and is unfit for roofing purposes.

      An immense bed of talcose conglomerate, about four miles in width, extending through the whole length of the county, and underlying a greater or less portion of the towns of Hinesburgh, Huntington, Jericho, Williston, Essex, Westford and Milton, lies next to the clay slate vein on the east. According to Prof. Adams, in his report of 1845, this rock was called magnesian slate, but later its present name was considered more appropriate, and consequently adopted. The vein is a purely conglomerate species, having associated together in its formation the following varieties of rocks: Sandstones, breccias, quartz rock; calcareous rocks, novaculite schist, talcose schist, and coarse conglomerates. The sandstones are few, while the quartz variety is quite abundant. A large bed of the latter in almost a distinct formation lies in the southern part of the county, extending into the towns of Hinesburgh, Richmond and Williston. Prof. Thompson called these rocks Taconic, and has left the following note concerning them: "These rocks commence east of the clay slate and Eolian limestones, and extend eastward; but I shall not attempt to assign their eastern limits. They consist entirely of schistose rocks, composed chiefly of quartz, and most of them more or less magnesian. There is a belt extending through Westford and the east part of Essex, and the west part of Jericho to Winooski River, which is quite chloritic. This is often thick bedded, and answers very well for a building stone, though rather soft. It has been considerably used for doorsteps, and has been transported to Burlington for that purpose. Some of the strata appear to be a coarse sandstone, or rather a fine conglomerate. Some places, as at Essex, exhibit a fine, compact magnesian slate, which is easily sawed into any form, and is used as a fire stone. In many places the slaty laminae are covered with fine talc glazing. The slate generally, in the eastern part of the county, may perhaps be called talcose, but the proportion of talc, in the greater part of it, is quite small. The predominant mineral in it is quartz, and it often occurs, either white or limpid, in seams several inches in thickness." In the Geological Reports of 1861, Prof. Hagar says: "We have made no estimate of the thickness of the talcose conglomerates, but know that they must be very thick. They must be 2,000 or 3,000 feet thick at the least calculation. We suppose that this bed of rocks includes the Sillery sandstones of Canada. These are estimated at 4,000 feet, in Canada." No fossils have been found in this range.

      Adjacent to this vein of conglomerate is a large range of talcose schist, extending eastward nearly to the county line. Talcose schist proper consists of quartz and talc; but with this bed there are associated together, consisting integral parts of the formation, clay slate, with plumbaginous, aluminous and pyritiferious varieties; hornblende schist, gneiss, quartz rock, sandstones and conglomerates, limestone and dolomites. Prof. Zadock Thompson has the following respecting this range in Chittenden County: "Along the foot of Mansfield Mountain, in Underhill, a thick bedded mica, slate occurs, which makes a very good building stone. The stratification is so completely obliterated, that much of it, like granite, splits in all directions with nearly equal facility. In connection with these beds, seams of chlorite occur. Some of the strata ranging north and south through Underhill, Jericho, Bolton, and Huntington, are of a ferruginous character, and iron ores in small quantities have been found in several places, but not enough to justify the expectation of finding it in quantity. Near this range of ferruginous slate, a narrow range of plumbaginous slate shows itself in several places, as in Huntington and Jericho. This is doubtless a continuation of the same narrow range of plumbaginous slate, which occurs in Cambridge, Waterville, and the western part of Montgomery and Richford. To the eastward of the synclinal axis passing through Underhill, and the eastern part of Jericho, the rock perhaps should be called mica slate, although it usually contains more or less talc. The rocks on the summit of Mansfield Mountain appear, in places at least, to be talcose slate. A great part of the slate which forms the mountains extending from the chin towards the north, along the eastern border of the county, abounds in octahedral crystals of magnetic iron."

      The rocks underlying the residue of the county are of the Azoic period and of gneiss formation. The essential ingredients of gneiss are quartz, feldspar, and mica, forming a rock closely resembling granite, differing from it only in having a distinctly stratified, slaty or laminated structure. For this reason it makes a very handsome and convenient building stone, as the sheets or strata can be easily obtained at the quarries, and it can then be split or divided into any required thickness. “The thickness of the gneiss in Vermont," says Mr. HITCHCOCK, "must be very great. The section across Mount Holley, in Rutland County, .may perhaps give an average of its thickness. About 8,000 feet of strata have been removed there, of which we should estimate about 6,000 feet to have been of gneiss. Yet as the bottom of the formation may not have been reached here, the true thickness may be greater."

      This ends our brief sketch of the principal rocks entering into the geological formation of the county, and we will now turn our attention for a few moments to its surface geology, then drop the subject, to be taken up by far more competent hands than ours. That the whole of this beautiful territory of Vermont, not excepting the summits of its most lofty mountains, was once the bottom of a great ocean; that its verdant and flower bedecked valleys were the basin or channel of mighty lakes and rivers; that the whole was once covered by stupendous glaciers and ice floes, are facts incontrovertible. Each of these epochs or periods has left its history, written as plainly as the records upon the pyramids of Egypt, leaving behind, as it were, "Footprints of their Creator." But they who have deciphered the history, or "Testimony of the Rocks," have not, as has the Archeologist that of the pyramids, arrived at the truth by delving in the ruins of a forgotten language, but from the scroll of nature, descending into the bowels of the earth, and reaching forth into the uttermost parts of the limitless heavens for information. For – 

"All infinite, all limitless in awe,
Heaven to great minds was given: 
Yet, with all his littleness, down to his inch
Man can draw – the heaven."
Such is the province of the geologist.
      But to return to the several changes we have mentioned. Among men of science it has become the common, if not the prevailing opinion, that all the elements with which we meet were first in an ethereal, or gaseous state that they slowly condensed, existing for ages as a heated fluid, by degrees becoming more consistent that thus the whole earth was once an immense ball of fiery matter that, in the course of time, it was rendered very compact, and at last became crusted over, as the process of cooling gradually advanced and that its interior is still in a molten condition. Thus, if the view suggested be correct, the entire planet, in its earlier phases, as well as the larger part now beneath and within its solid crust, is known to geologists as elementary or molten. Then came another age, in which this molten mass began to cool and a crust to form, called the igneous period. Contemporaneous with the beginning of the igneous period, came another epoch. The crust thus formed would naturally become surrounded by an atmosphere heavily charged with minerals in a gaseous or vaporous condition. As the cooling advanced, this etherealized matter would condense and seek a lower level, thus coating the earth over with another rock. This is named the vaporous period. At last, however, another age was ushered in one altogether different from those that had preceded it. The moist vapors which must of necessity have pervaded the atmosphere began to condense and settle, gathering into the hollows and crevices of the rocks, until nearly the whole surface of the earth was covered with water. This is called the aqueous period. As these waters began to recede and the "firmament to appear," the long winter would cover the earth with mighty ice floes and glaciers, forming what is known as the drift, or glacial period. Evidences of these several epochs are left in Chittenden County by terraces, moraines, drift bowlders, etc.

      First, terraces. -- These are simply shelves, or water marks, left on the sides of valleys and mountains, proclaiming that they were once the beach of a lake or ocean., while the fossils left will decide which of the two it was. These terraces are the most fully developed in the valley of the Winooski; yet the Lamoille valley, and that of the other several streams, contain fine specimens. The deposits of sand, too, proclaiming the bed of an ocean, are numerous and extensive, particularly in the towns of Milton, Colchester, and Burlington. They are for the most part superficial, varying in depth from a few inches to eighty or ninety feet, and in general have a regular and nearly horizontal stratification. They usually terminate downward in brown or blue clay, and in many places the mixture of clay and sand is in the proper proportion for making brick, as at the foot of Winooski Falls. The elevation of the surface of these sand deposits varies from twenty to two hundred and sixty feet above Lake Champlain. The mean elevation of those plains (terraces) to the westward of the range of limestone extending from Rock Point to Mallett's Head, and thence to Milton, may be estimated at forty feet; and the mean elevation of the extensive sandy plains commencing in Burlington, and extending through the southwestern part of Essex, and through the central parts of Colchester and Milton, is about 200 feet. Marine shells are found in this sand in numerous places. At one place in Burlington, half a mile northeast from Rock Point, and by the side of the road, they abound in a coarse gravel about 130 feet above the lake; and two miles northeast of Mallett's Bay, in Colchester, is a large deposit of them at an elevation of more than zoo feet above the lake. At both places they are much broken, and mingled with rather coarse gravel. It would appear in these places, that the shells had been worked up above the line of the shore composed of drift, and that the gravel of the drift was mingled with them by the action of the waves, and these and larger objects, like the fossil whale, were buried by the washing down of the drift materials.

      Second, drift. -- We think it will not be difficult for almost any inhabitant to form an accurate idea of drift. For in almost every part of the county occur accumulations of bowlders, or large blocks of stone, with the angles more or less rounded, lying upon the solid ledges, or upon, or in the midst of a mixture of smaller fragments, with gravel and sand; the whole mingled confusedly together, and evidently abraded by some powerful agency from the rocks in place, and driven along pell mell often to great distances; for if the bowlders and fragments be examined, they will for the most part be found not to correspond to the ledges beneath, but to others many miles perhaps to the north or northwest.

      Third, moraines. -- These are a class of terraces formed by ice instead of water. The theory of their formation is as follows: In the glacial period, icebergs became stranded at the base and on the sides of hills, and deposits were made around and upon them, and they would have been level topped if the ice had remained; but in consequence of its melting they are now extremely irregular. At Underhill Flats the moraine terraces are abundant, and beautifully rounded, upon both sides of Brown's River.

Gazetteer and Business Directory of 
Chittenden County, Vt. For 1882-83
Compiled and Published by Hamilton Child
Printed At The Journal Office, Syracuse, N. Y, 
August, 1882.
Pages 33-50.

Transcribed by Karima Allison ~ 2004