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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Let's Go To The Movies

Movie Theatres came and went. This photo shows the Bradford Theatre sometime between the

time it closed in 1956 and when it burned in 1959. The adjacent building housed Stuart's Restaurant. (Photo: John Fatherly/Bradford Historical Society)

In this hall on the second floor of the Fairlee (VT) Town Hall, movies were being shown from 1914 to the mid-1950's. On June 22, 1950, during the second showing on the second night of the newly-opened theatre, a fire broke out in the projection booth. Only the quick action of the projectionist and the Fairlee firemen saved the building.

Richard Henderson moved his movie theatre to the Henderson Block on Central Street in Woodsville, NH in 1914. He showed some of the first "talkies" at this 529-seat theatre in the late 1920's. In 1931, it was purchased by the Tegu family and operated as Tegu's Orpheum.

(Photo:Gary Chamberlin)

The Opera House on Central Street in Woodsville, NH was built in 1890 and films began to be show there from 1901 to the mid-40s. Its ads described it as "The Theatre With the Perfect Sound."

In 1921, George Jenkins bought the Village Hall and renamed it the Colonial Theatre. It operated until 1948. During the Great Depression and World War II it provided movie-goers with an inexpensive diversion from the issues of the day. (Photo: Bradford Historical Society)

The Bradford Theatre, located at the north end of the Bradford village business district opened on July 16, 1949 in a 500-seat Quonset type building. It closed in early 1956 and the shuttered building was completely destroyed by fire on January 18, 1959. (Photo: Bradford Historical Society)

Journal-Opinion, November 17, 2010

For over a century, we have loved going to the movies. The Smithsonian Institute attributes that love affair with motion picltures to their, “power to both mirror and manipulate, to blur fact and fiction, to romanticize, to vilify, [and] to enlighten.” This column describes the history of area movie theatres. The content is drawn from town histories, The United Opinion and interviews with theatre owners, employees and patrons.

Three inventions in the late 19th century made motion pictures possible. The combination of the motion picture camera, transparent roll film and the projector made the screen come alive with activity. Short, black and white films at first supplemented and then replaced vaudeville and song slide presentations. They were silent, but exaggerated gestures, subtitles and a musical score played by local musicians conveyed the plot. “Talkies” were introduced in the late 1920’s with early colored films produced in the next decade.

One of the earliest attempts at putting sound on film was Lee DeForest’s Phonofilm. One of his first films featured Charles Ross Taggart in The Old Country Fiddler at the Singing School, produced in 1923. Taggart grew up in Topsham and lived in Bradford and Newbury. According to Adam Boyce, who portrays Taggart in local appearances, Taggart’s performance as a fiddler and humorist was widely popular on the lyceum and Chautauqua circuits.

According to Katharine Blaisdell’s history of Haverhill, the first movies in Woodsville were shown by a man from St. Johnsbury. They were shown in Davidson Hall on Central Street in the early 1900's. From 1910 to 1914, Richard Henderson operated the Palace Theatre in the building that is now the bowling alley. He then moved to his newly-constructed Henderson Block which housed a 529-seat theatre along with a hotel and other businesses. According to The United Opinion, The Henderson Theatre was the first in the area to show “talkies” with a grand re-opening on May 15, 1929.

In 1931, the theatre was bought by the Tegu family and reopened as Tegu’s Orpheum. Over the next few years they renovated the theatre. Blaisdell quotes theatre worker Frank Millette who recalled a packed house for both shows on Saturday night. “Sunday movies were frowned on at first, but eventually the public relaxed their scruples.” In 1950 WMTW-TV began broadcasting, a death knell to the theatre.

Gerry Sulham of Wells River recalls that in the 1950’s there were still no movie theatres in that village because they could just go across the bridge to Woodsville. She said that she would go with a “gang” of girls and often sat in front of a similar group of boys “who would throw popcorn at us.” After the show they went to the Happy Hour for a hot dog, fries and a coke. She remembers the special film presentation of Queen Elizabeth’s wedding and coronation. Others recall going to the theatre at Christmas for a free movie and a small gift. Garnett Hebb of Newbury said that going to the movies was a favorite option for an evening’s outing.

The Orpheum was in competition with the Opera House just down the street. It also had 600 seats and like other area theatres, alternated live performances with motion pictures. It advertised itself as “the Theatre With the Perfect Sound” with an “Electrical Ventilating System Just Installed for Your Comfort.” This theatre continued until about 1940 and the Orpheum held on until 1955. Nearby, weekly movies were shown in Pike Hall during the Twenties. The village was abuzz in 1922 at the showing of the sensuous film The Sheik , starring heart-throb Rudolph Valentino.

Smaller towns in the area that lacked a formal theatre were served by projectionist who traveled through the area. In the Lyme book, We Had Each Other, Ken Uline recalls that a man who operated a Fairlee movie theatre would bring his films to Lyme and other towns like Orford and Warren where there was a hall.

In Fairlee, movies began to be shown in the upstairs hall of the new town hall in 1914. In 1925, the management was taken over by Charles Thurber and John Munn. The Fairlee history mentions: “Many have fond memories throughout the ensuing years of the hard seats, the dashing heroes with their beautiful heroines, the piano played by Miss Wynona Bogle to set the proper mood, and the lovely hand-painted scene of Lake Morey on the screen.”

The Fairlee Theatre was purchased by Harold Smalley in July 1931 and was renamed The Star Theatre, a title that had been used sometime earlier. It advertised movies like Arizona with John Wayne, described as: “Thrills of the Gridiron and Army Post in a Throbbing Heart-Interest Story.” The theatre featured a Western Electric Sound System and had two shows nightly, except for Sunday. In her memoirs, Hazel Donnelly of Orford recalled walking over the bridge to the movies in Fairlee. The theatre continued to operate through World War Two, but closed sometime thereafter.

Probably the most exciting night at the movies in Fairlee was June 22, 1950.
The theatre had been re-opened by Harry Hudson of Randolph. He had purchased new projection and sound equipment and, according to a note in The United Opinion, promised “movie entertainment on a par with that seen in any large town or city.” The opening feature was Sierra with Audie Murphy. However, during the second night of the new theatre, a fire broke out in the projection booth. Paul Sargent of Fairlee, who was 13 years old at the time, recalls that he and his friend Freddie Hayward were ushers that night. The two young ushers flung open the doors, but panic broke out as patrons rushed from the second floor hall. The fast response of projectionist Ray Foote and the Fairlee firemen saved the hall from extensive damage. The hall was repaired and films were shown from time to time through the mid-50's.

As with other towns, motion pictures in Bradford were preceded by live performances and illustrated songs. The latter involved slides with a singer and accompanist. The first motion pictures, according to Bradford historian Harold Haskins, were shown around 1908 at the Village Hall, now the Old Church Theatre. In 1914, Doe Brothers store in Bradford gave away free tickets to the movies with a three dollar purchase. The showing of “The Birth of a Nation” in 1915 included a 10-piece orchestra and a chorus, “while several beautiful girls acted as ushers to furnish local color.” All seats for the three evening performances were sold out in advance. In each town a teenager was secured to make the appropriate noise to replicate the sound of the gunshot that killed President Lincoln.  (Pat Hill of Woodsville was the selected youth there.)

On October 13, 1921 George Jenkins bought the Village Hall, and renamed it the Colonial Theatre. It was showing films at least three nights each week in 1929. It was at that time that a rumor was circulated that Charles Barton might create a movie theatre on the second floor of his newly-purchased building on Main Street. In a newspaper article in which Barton denied the rumor, the editor wrote, “Bradford is too small to support two movie theatres” and credited the Colonial with “giving our movie lovers very attractive programs.“

Mable Humphrey of Bradford often provided accompaniment for the silent films. Her daughter, Katherine Thibault said that her mother was so accomplished that she didn’t need the score and, using either the piano or violin, set the right mood for the action on the screen.

Joining Mable was Lucia Davis, also of Bradford. In a 2011 interview, Mrs. Davis recalled that Mable often played the violin while she played the panio. Davis also played the violin. She said that local musicians from the audience sometimes join in. She said that when scores were not provided with the film, the musicians would "make up the music."

That came to an end with the introduction of “talkies” in the late 1920’s. In May 1931, the Colonial Theatre re-opened with a newly installed sound system. “Fighting Caravans” with Gary Cooper was the main feature, preceded by a brief band concert and followed by “selected short features.” Admission was 35 cents for adults and 20 cents for children under 12.

The Colonial Theatre continued to show movies almost year-round through the Great Depression and World War II. For the relatively small price of admission, viewers could escape the realities of everyday life through screwball comedies or trips of fantasy or adventures. During the war, films took on the added tasks of raising morale and patriotism and informing the public about the reasons for the conflict. Two features shown in both Bradford and Fairlee in the Spring of 1943 reflect these tasks. In Hitler’s Children, viewers were shown the brutality of living in a fascist dictatorship. The second was Stand By For Action with Robert Taylor and Charles Laughton, “a smashing saga of the sea, teeming with battle thrills of timely significance and brings before the wartime public a graphic portrayal of heroism and tradition.”

In 1949, the old Colonial Theatre, which had been closed for over a year, was replaced. The Bradford Theatre, owned by Dr. Leonard Abbadessa, opened its doors on July 16, 1949 in a 500-seat Quonset-type building. Located just north of the present business district, itt was described as follows: “The lobby, opening onto Main street, has the box office on one side and doors leading to a foyer, where there is a pop corn machine and candy counter. Retiring rooms are adjacent.” The theatre itself featured seats with red plush backs and leatherette seats on a concave floor “as to give every seat a clear view of the screen from the proper angle.”

Robert Nutting of Bradford worked at the theatre in the mid-1950‘s when it was part of the Tegu chain of theatres and managed by Charles Bigelow. He said that the biggest draw was for westerns featuring actors such as Roy Rogers or Hopalong Cassidy. I personally remember going to that theatre, sliding down behind the seat in front while watching Headhunters of the Amazon, singing along with the bouncing ball, mesmerized by heroic adventure or being enticed to come back by the previews of coming attractions.

Nutting recalls that by early 1956 attendance had dwindled. He said that on the night when the two evening show had a total attendance of ten, owner Pete Tegu announced, “We’re out of here tonight.” The building remained shuttered until it was destroyed by fire on January 18, 1959.

Better television reception and the opening of three drive-in theatres hastened the decline of area movie houses. The Tegu’s Drive-in opened in May, 1953 in Woodsville. It had a capacity of 450 cars. In 1954, according to Blaisdell, the Tegus “donated one night’s entire receipts from both the Orpheum and the drive-in to the Cottage Hospital Building fund.” About 1998, owners Lee and Janet Tegu added a second screen and continued to draw large crowds for first run films at what then was called the Meadows Drive-In. After 2004, it closed and was demolished.

The Starlite Drive-In opened in lower Orford in the early 50’s. It was operated by Leighton and Shirley Godfrey of Fairlee. Mrs. Godfrey recently said that while she had sold tickets as a young woman at the Bradford theatre, the drive-in was really “Leighton’s project.” Using skills learned in Chicago, he managed the theatre and served as its projectionist. It continued to operate until the late 60’s and has also been demolished.

The Holiday Park Drive-in was opened in Fairlee in 1950 by Reginald and Terri Drowns of Barre. Shows started at dusk and admission was $1 per car. I recall opening night because our car was the first one turned away from the free admission grand opening with its capacity crowd.  Around 1960, a motel was added, allowing guests to watch the films from their rooms. Robert Nutting worked at the theatre for 25 years in several capacities. He says that Drowns had his own censorship practices and would physically cut objectionable scenes or swear words, splicing the film afterward. Drowns also maintained a “heads above the steering wheel” rule and was known to interrupt young lovers who violated it. The theatre is still in operation under different management.

Today, viewers have the choice of multi-channel cable television, access to films on the internet or by mail and movie palaces featuring plush seating, surround sound, 3D screens, high definition projection and multiple choices. But these modern choices may still not dull the fond memories of the theatres mentioned above. Going to the movies as a youngster was a special treat. Taking your date made the darkened movie theatre a special place. The films opened your world in a special way. And those memories are treasures very special.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Women's Suffage: A Radical Notion

As published in the Journal Opinion
October 27, 2010

The three illustrations shown above are taken from a UVM Senior project written by my granddaughter Abigail Robbins. I have added her paper to my original article.

“The campaign for woman suffrage in America long since ended. Gone are the days of agitating, organizing, educating, pleading, and persuading. No more forever will women descend on State Legislatures and the national Congress in the effort to wrest the suffrage from State and national legislators. The gates to political enfranchisement have swung open. The women are inside.”

This victory statement by suffrage leader Carrie Chapman Catt is found in her 1926 book Woman Suffrage and Politics. Ninety years ago next month, women in Vermont and New Hampshire joined voters across the nation to cast their ballots. That right will be exercised by women across the region again on November 2nd.

In early America, a woman’s legal identity was defined by relationships with the men in her life, and that identity granted her few legal rights. Abigail Adams, in her famous letter to her husband John Adams in March, 1776, admonished the delegates at Philadelphia to, “remember the ladies.” She wrote, “Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”

That revolution was a long time coming. By 1784, New Hampshire, along with other new states that had granted women limited voting rights, revoked those rights. To restore them was considered so radical that it was not until 1848 that an organized effort to give equal suffrage to women was begun. It resulted from a proposal made by Elizabeth Cady Stanton at the convention held in Seneca Falls, New York, where the women’s suffrage movement was born.

It took another 80 years to achieve full suffrage for women. A brochure from The Women’s Rights Center in Seneca Falls states that the effort gained success only after, “480 campaigns to lobby state legislatures to submit suffrage amendments to the electorate, 56 popular votes on state amendments, 277 campaigns to get state political parties to adopt women’s platforms, 19 campaigns with successive Congresses, and the campaign to ratify the federal amendment in 1919-20.”

In Vermont, suffrage activities took the more moderate stand of gaining the right for women to vote in school meetings. A bill was submitted to the Vermont General Assembly in 1852. That year, Clarina Howard Nichols of Townshend, editor of the Windham County Democrat and the first women to address that body, spoke in behalf of the bill. She told the assembly that granting this right, “would not compromise a woman’s femininity. On the contrary, it would simply extend a mother’s accepted sphere of influence in the field of childhood education.”

In a 1973 article about Nichols, Madeline Kunin wrote, “The then-editor of the Rutland Herald threatened to present her publicly with a pair of trousers.” Nichols reminded the legislators that “they had legislated our skirts into their possession…Time enough for them to taunt us with being after their wardrobes, when they shall have restored to us the legal right to our own.” It would take decades before this modest request was granted.

In the period before the Civil War, the campaign was coupled with the abolitionist movement, but during that war, suffrage activities were put aside as women took active roles on the home fronts. It was that more active presence and the Constitutional amendments that defined citizens as males and granted the right to vote to black men that re-energized the women suffrage movement.

In 1869, a Special Commission on Women Suffrage recommended that an amendment granting suffrage be considered at the Vermont constitutional convention. They stated, “We see no good reason why the most ignorant man should vote, and the intelligent woman be refused…” Activities by supporters of the amendment brought the charge that the state was being invaded by, “strong-minded women.” Of the 223 delegates at the convention, only one voted for the amendment.

In July 1876, a century after Abigail Adams promised to foment a rebellion, E. Anne Hinman made a speech entitled “A Plea for Equality” to a Bradford audience. She made not only, ”a demand for the suffrage, but also for a higher education of women, and the breaking away of the rigid customs which have been established in society, and which prohibit her from sharing the benefits that accrue” from civilization. Her demand for a “wider sphere for women” included equal pay for equal work.

The Bradford Opinion reported that the lecture was, “well written and forcibly delivered and contained much good sound common sense and considerable nonsense.” It concluded, “that there are not ten men in the town of Bradford who are unwilling that women should have the privilege of voting if she wants it.” The editor went on to predict that “women will be permitted to vote sooner or later,” but doubted that the equality they expected to receive from the privilege would be realized.

This lecture, and its response, identifies some of the arguments raised against granting women a role in public affairs. Significant was the lack of wide-spread support from women. Additionally, the movement was coupled with other reforms including the temperance movement. The South feared granting women the right to vote would weaken its newly enacting laws depriving black men of that right. These fears created powerful enemies.

Many opponents felt that granting suffrage was against the teachings of the Bible as well as unnatural, unfeminine, unhealthy, a danger to the home and family and upsetting to “the fragile composition of the fairer sex.” One legislator from Rutland is quoted as saying that he was opposed to giving the ballot to “such a dangerous class as the women of Vermont.”

In 1872, two bills were introduced into the Vermont Legislature: one allowing women who paid taxes to vote and hold office in school district meetings and the other granting full voting rights. Both were defeated, although the school district bill passed the House and lost by only one vote in the Senate. New Hampshire adopted a similar bill in 1878, two years before it was finally adopted in Vermont.

Three years later, national suffragist leaders Lucy Stone and Julia Ward Howe met with supporters in St. Johnsbury and helped organize the Vermont Woman Suffrage Association. The focus of the group’s efforts over the next several decades was to expand the school suffrage to all municipal elections. Deborah P. Clifford’s article on the drive was published in Vermont History magazine in 1979. She writes that a bill granting municipal suffrage was introduced every two years. “Rumors abounded that one house would consent to give women the right to vote as long as the other agreed not to.” The bill finally became law in 1917.

At the national level, the focus was to gain full participation in state and national elections. In 1871, prominent suffrage leaders submitted a petition to Congress asking for the right to vote. Over the next 48 years, they were rejected and vilified for their efforts. They organized, petitioned, demonstrated and cajoled, gaining victories and suffering defeats state by state. One of those defeats was in New Hampshire when a 1902 referendum granting woman suffrage was defeated by the male voters.

The service of women to the nation during World War I helped tip the balance for a constitutional amendment granting full voting rights to women. By 1917, twelve states had granted equal suffrage to women and the following year Jeanette Rankin (R-Montana), the first woman elected to Congress introduced a suffrage amendment. Called the Susan B. Anthony Amendment, it stated, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

President Wilson opposed the idea when first elected in 1912, but in January, 1918, faced with a re-election campaign, he came out in support of the amendment. The millions of women who could already vote in state elections was a major factor in changing minds. Both supporters and opponents knew that the right of women to vote would come eventually and those who opposed it would be the first victims of the new electorate. The proposed amendment passed both houses by the necessary two-thirds vote on June 4, 1919.

The battle for ratification in the required 36 states was the last battle in the long and continuous struggle. Illinois was the first to affirm the amendment. On September 10, 1919, New Hampshire became the 16th state to ratify it. By March 1920, 35 states had approved, eight had voted against or refused to vote. Gaining the 36th for the required three-quarters was unsure. There were those who wanted Vermont to have the honor of confirming the right to vote for the women of the nation.

Samuel Hand’s history of the Vermont Republican Party entitled The Star That Set, describes the Vermont battle for ratification. Republican Gov. Percival Clements was opposed to the proposal, an opposition that “was grounded in the fear that suffrage proponents sought the vote as a weapon to re-impose prohibition.” When the presidential suffrage bill passed the Legislature, he vetoed it. “Clements contended that the legislators elected to the 1919 session should not vote on the issue since they had been elected prior” to congressional approval. “He proposed instead that candidates for the 1921 session declare themselves on the issue.”

By July 1920, the focus of the ratification movement was on Tennessee, one state in which there was a chance of success. The Legislature was equally divided. It came down to Harry Burn, the youngest member of the body. He had worn a red rose, the symbol of the opposition. The bill had been defeated, but was up for reconsideration. Burn changed his vote to one of support and the amendment was ratified. He later told reporters that his mother had written him a letter stating, “Don’t forget to be a good boy and help Mrs. Catt put the ‘rat’ in ratification.” That single vote gave women across the nation the right to vote in all elections.

Women voted for the first time in a Presidential election in November, 1920. It apparently was not newsworthy to the editor of The United Opinion as there was no major article at the time. Neighborhood reports included some notice of the event. In September, 1920, the reporter for West Fairlee Center noted that eight local women voted in the primary. The West Newbury columnist wrote: “Not many women from this side of the town attended the primary. We hope to see more of them next November. It is now up to the men and women of the country to say what they will have.”

On November 5, the Thetford column included the following: “Town Meeting drew a good number of voters, both men and women. One hundred and sixty-six had registered to vote and probably most of them cast their vote. The young misses of twenty-one were there, also one lady of one hundred one and one half years cast her vote for the first time. Mrs. Elizabeth C. Newcomb is the oldest person in town, if not the county. Chas. Douglas, the Republican candidate for town representative was elected. He made an informal speech in well chosen words, thanking the people for the honor given him. He treated the ladies to chocolates and men to cigars.”

In 1920, Haverhill’s Frances Parkinson Keyes, author and wife of U. S. Senator Henry Keyes, wrote an article entitled “On the Fence” published in The Atlantic Monthly. She stated that while she had been an “anti-suffragette all my life,” she had done nothing of consequence to prevent women suffrage. If fact, it was with her “entire approval” that Senator Keyes voted for the amendment. But, Keyes wrote: “I dread the very thought of voting.” She felt that women had enough in their lives without the extra burden of an expanded role in society. With a combination of hope and concern, she challenged women to accept this newly granted right in such a manner as to prove the opponents wrong. Mrs. Keyes, we can say with certainty, they have.

There is no doubt that the right to vote was the key for women to equality and influence in our society. A primary focus of my professional teaching career has been to inform both young men and women of their right to vote and the responsibilities that go with that right. I registered hundreds of young area residents who had reached their 18th birthday. As a Bradford election official and moderator, it is with no small amount of pride that I see many of them exercising the right to vote. As a citizen it has been my privilege to vote for women seeking office. What once was a radical notion has now become the norm. Hurrah and hurrah.

The following is a UVM senior project of my granddaughter, Abigail Robbins. She was a political science major.   It was completed in May, 2020 for the Media, Identify and Social Change course.  I was unable to download the visuals she used to support her writings.  That shows in the empty blocks throughout the paper.

Shaping Vermont Women’s Identity: The Fight for Suffrage 
What does it mean to be a Vermont woman? Since the creation of the state in 1791 two words have been present on the Vermont flag: freedom and unity. While these powerful words conjure up idyllic pictures of equality in one of the smallest states in the union, this was not always the case in the eyes of the law. This is particularly true in regards to women’s rights. Something as seemingly mundane as the ability to vote only came after a movement fought to expand this right. In doing so, this movement, known as the Vermont Women’s Suffrage Association or the Vermont women’s suffrage movement, shifted what it meant to be a woman in Vermont during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. This paper illustrates how Vermont suffragettes used multiple forms of media, while drawing upon ideas of Vermont exceptionalism with regards to equity and rights, to create a new discourse supporting the idea of the politically engaged woman through gaining suffrage.
Historical Context:
The fight for women’s suffrage in Vermont spans from 1852-1919. This fight was slow, measured, and moderate. It started when a bill allowing women to vote in school meetings was submitted to the Vermont State General Assembly in 1852. From this time until the Civil War, the Vermont suffrage movement and the abolitionist movement were closely associated. This integration ended during the war as women put aside suffrage as women were expected to take a more active role in supporting homes during wartime (Coffin 2010). After the war, when suffrage was extended to black men, the movement was revived due to attitudes that women in Vermont should also be included in the political process. This was part of a broader trend happening nationwide at the time. The next major proposal came in 1869 when the Special Commission on Women Suffrage advocated for an amendment granting suffrage to be considered at the Vermont constitutional convention. A statement from the Commission stated, “We see no good reason why the most ignorant man should vote, and the intelligent woman be refused…” (Coffin 2010). This exhibits the argumentation used to persuade the public to support the initiative for women to vote.
Legislative efforts continued in the coming years at the state level. In 1872, bills allowing tax-paying women to vote, hold office in school district meetings, and another proposing full voting rights were introduced. The Vermont Woman Suffrage Association started organizing in
1883 and held the first annual meeting in 1885. In 1907, the Vermont Woman’s Suffrage Association altered its name to the Vermont Equal Suffrage Association. 
There were many ways the Association advocated for policy change around Vermont.
Some members delivered speeches in small towns around the state and lobbied in Montpelier. Others networked with editors of newspapers to gain their support and wrote editorials and letters to the papers. Pamphlets were also widely used as a form of media to spread their message. In unique Vermont fashion, a photo captured the phrase “A Square Deal Votes For Vermont Women” painted on the side of a barn (Vermont Historical Society Archives). All these means were aimed to persuade the Vermont state legislature to increase women’s political rights.
In doing so, they also challenge existing cultural beliefs, attitudes, and ideas about who should participate in Vermont politics. 
Challenging these existing cultural beliefs, attitudes, and ideas about who participates in Vermont politics and what it looks like was one of the Vermont Women’s Suffrage Movement’s biggest obstacles. Not only did many men not want women to have the right to vote, but a proportion of women at the time also did not see it appropriate. Facing opposition from the very people the Association was trying to advance rights for undoubtedly contributed to the slow and moderate process which took place from 1852-1919.  
The final push came from the federal level when the Nineteenth Amendment passed Congress on June 4th, 1919. However, it took until August 26, 1920 for the amendment to become law. The changes in industrialization and incorporation of women in the workplace nationwide during World War was one of the factors leading to the passage of the Nineteenth
Amendment (Jensen 2019). In Vermont, the state legislature ratified the law on February 8,
1921. The rest of this paper analyzes how specific forms of media utilized by the Vermont Women’s Suffrage Movement affected existing cultural beliefs, attitudes, and ideas in order to expand women’s political participation in Vermont. 
Illustrating the Cause: Presentation of Movement Materials:
The Vermont Women’s Suffrage Association utilized a variety of forms of media in their campaign to further their agenda. This section illustrates and analyzes seven prominent primary artifacts that the movement used to achieve their goal of shifting Vermont women’s identity to include political participation. In doing so, these artifacts act as a mechanism for broader social change in Vermont in this particular historical moment. The primary sources were found in the collections at Howe Library at the University of Vermont and the Vermont Historical Society.
These artifacts include newspapers, pamphlets, flyers, postcards, and internal meeting notes. 
Use of Newspaper:
One medium that the Vermont Women’s Suffrage Association utilized was the newspaper. This particular form of media communicated mattered during this historical moment because of its widespread popularity and its power to shape public perceptions and discourse.

This power could create a sense of imagined community even within local Vermont newspapers. The newspaper’s capacity to depict and contribute to identity formation made it an integral form of media for the Vermont Women’s Suffrage Association to tap into to include women. One prominent artifact selected from the Vermont Historical Society collection showed how bold the movement was in displaying their dissatisfaction with the status quo. This artifact was an article by Annette W.​        
Parmelee titled, “Seventeen Reasons
Why Women Should Have the Ballot.”
This artifact outlines reasons why women should be able to vote. The purpose is most likely to​    convince women and Vermont state elected officials that women should be able to vote. The artifact helps to provide evidence to show how a prominent member of the Vermont suffrage movement felt, thus creating a certain form of messaging. This messaging also facilitates a certain form of discourse that supporters and the public writ large can discuss after publication. This discourse could ask, what is women’s place in politics? Should women have the right to vote? This discourse could take place verbally between those discussing the article or be written about in local papers in a reactionary manner. This article illustrates the rhetoric used to galvanize support for the movement, as well as show the firm and persuasive tones the movement could take in certain forms of media. 
In addition to articles, the Vermont Women’s Suffrage Association also created flyers​       specifically for newspaper publication. The first flyer, selected from the Vermont Historical Society, showed another common line of argumentation used by the movement. The flyer, pictured below, gives context as to which state legislatures have ratified the amendment. The purpose is to persuade the Vermont Legislature to call a special session to be the last state needed to ratify the amendment. The newspaper flyer exemplified the Vermont Women’s Suffrage
Association’s goal for Vermont to become the 36th state to ratify the suffrage amendment. The artifact helps to provide evidence as it shows how the newspaper form of media was used to gain support and get the movement’s message out. This artifact also exemplifies an aspect of the movement’s targeted legislative strategy. This part of the legislative strategy is directed at the public, calling upon them to pressure their elected officials, by using the newspaper, as well as pressuring the elected officials themselves to gain support. Finally, this artifact also shows the movement’s argumentation which incorporates a sense of rush to become the last state to ratify the amendment. This appeals to a sense of Vermont exceptionalism that is part of Vermont identity, which the movement capitalized on to increase support on the local and state level. 
The second artifact selected from the Vermont Historical Society had the same legislative agenda, but used different argumentation to gain support. The flyer, pictured on the subsequent page, has a map of the United States with the South and Vermont filled in black. The flyer uses the idea of Vermont exceptionalism to appeal to Vermonters. This flyer asserts that Vermont is the only Northern state acting like the South by not ratifying the 19th Amendment. The purpose of the flyer is to persuade the Vermont Legislature to call a special session to be the last state needed to ratify the amendment. The artifact helps to provide evidence as it shows the recurring patterns of argumentation used throughout the movement’s campaign. A key part of the movement’s legislative agenda was to appeal to the imagined identities as Vermonters. In the cases of these two artifacts, the Vermont identity values equality and is distinct from southern states which have not traditionally supported movements for increasing rights. This newspaper flyer appeals to this particular Vermont value showing Vermont as aligning with states which do not normally support increasing rights, and directly
explains that women will only receive this right if the state legislature acts. Of course, in this instance the increasing of rights only would apply to white women, as illustrated on the flyer.
Use of Public Flyers:
The Vermont Women’s Suffrage Association also utilized flyers advertised in public​         spaces. One prominent artifact selected from the Vermont Historical Society depicts how state comparison was used to appeal to the public. This flyer titled,
“Women Vote for President in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Idaho Why Not in Vermont?” informs the recipient that women in other states can vote. This draws a comparison to other states, evoking a sense of state inferiority for not allowing women to vote already. This sense of inferiority would galvanize support from Vermont women who see this comparative lack of access to political participation. This is similar to the argumentation evident in previous artifacts which appeals to an imagined identity of Vermonter being on the front lines of equality and reform on a state level. 
The second flyer selected from the Vermont Historical
Society is a public advertisement for the Windsor County Convention for Equal Suffrage. The flyer’s purpose is to attract people, both men and women, to attend the event. The artifact helps to provide evidence as the particular way the event is advertised gives a greater insight into who the movement believed people in the convention’s location, Springfield area, were. This is evident through the line, “Good speakers, good music-- get out your Ford and come.” The movement thought advertising good speakers and music would attract people from the Springfield area to the convention. This also shows the multifacetedness of the movement’s campaign strategy. This is evident through the variance in the movement’s campaign advertising at the state and local levels. The statewide advertisements drew more comparisons to the rest of the nation as opposed to appealing to a more localized identity as this flyer aims to achieve.  
Use of Pamphlets:
Another method the Vermont Women’s Suffrage Association utilized was pamphlets.​       One prominent pamphlet selected from the Vermont Historical Society draws more comparisons to the rest of the nation, similar to many flyers. This pamphlet, located on the subsequent page,​       has a map of the U.S. with the South and Vermont filled in black. The pamphlet informs readers that women in other states can vote. The pamphlet also draws a similarity of Vermont to the South, inferring that Vermont should feel shame by not ratifying the amendment with the South. The pamphlet appeals to the Vermont identity, arguing that Vermont should not be the only Northern state acting like the South by not ratifying the 19th Amendment. This artifact is important in showing an additional media the movement utilized to gain support and get their message out. This artifact also depicts how overt the movement was in their messaging. The decision to
not hold back in saying Vermont’s identity ought to be different than the South draws a harsh distinction in what it means to be a Vermonter. This also shows that the messaging of this movement at the particular historical moment was racialized, as it only advocated for white women.  
Use of Postcards:
The Vermont Women’s Suffrage Association also utilized postcards. One prominent​         artifact selected from the Vermont Historical Society depicts the movement’s use of postcards to target individuals who could benefit the cause. This particular postcard pictured below was addressed to Frances Hobart, Librarian in Vergennes, VT. The postcard informs the recipient that women in other states can vote. The primary purpose is to inform the recipient and persuade the recipient to support the movement. The artifact helps to provide evidence to show one strategy used by the movement to increase support in the particular historical moment. The artifact also exemplifies the common argumentation used by the movement for why Vermont should give women suffrage. 
Significance of The Movement:
The work of the Vermont Women’s Suffrage Association exemplifies how many Vermonters identify the importance of increasing political rights for a sizable number of the population. The media used by the Vermont Women’s Suffrage Association to communicate their platform and mobilize supporters is important to analyze, particularly as parts of the agenda were obtained before the rest of the nation. This was undoubtedly in part due to the movement's appeal to Vermont identity. This was illustrated by direct comparison to the South as being an undesirable model, as well as pressure applied when depicting states that already allowed white women to vote. In doing so, the Vermont Women’s Suffrage Association juxtaposed Vermont against the South by defining Vermont by what is not. Vermont was not on the side that owned slaves during the Civil War. Vermont saw itself as a vanguard of human equality. The movement capitalized on this feeling of Vermont progressivism and used different forms of media to show how Vermont was not living up to its standard of supporting human equality. In essence, the media was used to call out Vermont for not walking the talk, hoping to inspire change. 
Finally, as a Vermont woman interested in politics, I would be remiss to not touch upon the ways in which the outcomes of the suffrage movement affected women’s role in Vermont politics. In addition to obtaining equal suffrage for white women in Vermont, the movement was​  integral in shifting Vermont women’s cultural identity. This shift resulted in an increase of women holding political office in Vermont. In fact, this shift was achieved soon after the 19th amendment was passed. A study found that just one year after Vermont women obtained the right to vote, there was an increase in Vermont women holding office in municipal governments around the state (Hallowell​   1987). 
The Vermont suffragettes used the imagined Vermont identity, created by various forms of media in order to change discourses surrounding women’s ability to become politically engaged through gaining suffrage. The impact of their discourse has helped women hold many seats in the Vermont State House. In 1921, Edna Beard of Orange, Vermont became the first woman elected for the Vermont State House of Representatives. Remarkably, the reason Beard won the general election was due to forty women in Orange registering to vote for the first time.
Beard surpassed her opponent by thirty-eight votes (Vermont Public Radio 2009). 
In addition to holding local office, this discourse has created space for women to hold statewide office, including the Lieutenant Governor’s office with the election of Consuelo Bailey in 1954 and the Governor’s office with the election of Madeleine Kunin in 1978. As more women from around the country are elected to walk the halls of Capitol Hill, it will be interesting to see if similar appeals to Vermont identity will be used to mobilize the election of a woman to represent the Green Mountain state in the coming years.

1.       Annette W. Parmelee. Seventeen Reasons Why Women Should Have the Ballot. [List outlining reasons why women should be able to vote] Vermont Historical Society Library, Barre, Vermont.
2.       Bader-Zaar, B. (2011). Gender and Suffrage Politics: New Approaches to the History of Women's Political Emancipation. Journal of Women's History, 23(2), 208-218,229.
3.       C.H. Clark. (1912, May 13). Women Vote for President. [Postcard addressed to Frances Hobart, Librarian in Vergennes, VT]. Vermont Historical Society Library, Barre, Vermont.
4.       C.H. Clark (1908). Women Vote for President in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Idaho Why Not in Vermont? [Flyer with Vermont seal and map]. Vermont Historical Society Library, Barre, Vermont.
5.       Coffin, L. (2010, October 27). Women's Suffrage: A Radical Notion (As published in the Journal Opinion). Retrieved March 21, 2020, from
6.       Gustafson, M. (2002). White Women's Rights: The Racial Origins of Feminism in the United States. The Journal of American History,​      89(3), 1058-1059.
7.       Hallowell, A. (1987). Women on the Threshold: An Analysis of Rural Women in Local Politics​      (1921-1941). Rural Sociology, 52(4), 510-521.
8.       Jensen, Kimberly: Women's Mobilization for War (USA) , in: 1914-1918-online. International
Encyclopedia of the First World War, ed. by Ute Daniel, Peter Gatrell, Oliver Janz, Heather Jones, Jennifer Keene, Alan Kramer, and Bill Nasson, issued by Freie Universit├Ąt Berlin, Berlin 2014-10-08. DOI: 10.15463/ie1418.10279.
9.       McCammon, H. (2003). "Out of the Parlors and into the Streets": The Changing Tactical Repertoire of the U.S. Women's Suffrage Movements. Social Forces, 81(3), 787-818.
10.   U.S. National Park Service, Vermont and the 19th Amendment. (2019, August 23). Retrieved​        March 22, 2020, from https://www.nps.gov/articles/vermont-women-s-history.ht​      m
11.   Vermont Woman's Suffrage Association, Vermont Historical Society. Vermont Equal Suffrage Association Papers, 1883-1927. (2007, October 7). Retrieved March 22, 2020, from https://vermonthistory.org/documents/findaid/suffrage.pdf
12.   Vermont Equal Suffrage Association. The “Solid South”---and Vermont. [Pamphlet with map of U.S. with the South and Vermont filled in black. Vermont is the only Northern state acting like the South by not ratifying the 19th Amendment]. Vermont Historical Society Library, Barre, Vermont.
13.   Vermont Woman's Suffrage Association. (1919, April 14). Special Sessions Called to Ratify the Federal Suffrage Amendment. [Flyer for newspapers advocating for the Vermont Legislature to be the 36th state to ratify suffrage amendment]. Vermont Historical Society Library, Barre, Vermont.
14.   Vermont Equal Suffrage Association. (1919, April 19). Map showing the Ratification Rush on the Federal Suffrage Amendment. [Flyer for newspapers advocating for the Vermont Legislature to be the 36th state to ratify suffrage amendment]. Vermont Historical Society Library, Barre, Vermont.
15.   Vermont Public Radio. “Vermont Women: Edna Beard.” Welcome to the VPR Archive​      , 19 Mar.
2007, archive.vpr.org/commentary-series/vermont-women-edna-beard/.
16.   Vermont Woman's Suffrage Association. (1885, January 14-15). Minutes of the First Annual
Meeting of the Vermont Woman's Suffrage Association, Held in the M. E. Church, Barton Landing, Wednesday and Thursday, Jan. 14 and 15, 1885. [Book holding the minutes of the first annual meeting]. Women's Suffrage in Vermont Collection (324.3 VAr). Vermont Historical Society Library, Barre, Vermont.
17.   Woodsmoke Productions and Vermont Historical Society, “Women Get the Vote, 1920,” The​       
Green Mountain Chronicles radio broadcast and background information, original broadcast
                1988-89.   https://vermonthistory.org/women-get-vote-1920

18.   Windsor County Convention for Equal Suffrage. (June 5). [Flyer advertising Windsor County Convention for Equal Suffrage event]. Vermont Historical Society Library, Barre, Vermont. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Damming the Falling Waters

Glacial Lake Hitchcock was formed behind a giant earthen dam at Rocky Hill, Connecticut about 15,000 years ago. Before it drained away about 3,000 years later it had reshaped the valley for almost two hundred miles upstream. (Map Umass Geoscience)

The mill pictured above and the two below are typical of the many mills located on the streams, rivers and lake outlets of the region. The one above is the Sanborn mill established in1876 on the Grant Brook in Lyme Center. (Lyme Historians)
The dam on this Lyme mill is a log dam. Logs of this type were hauled to tanneries
and the bark was used for hide processing. (Lyme Historians)
This tannery was established in 1846 by S. W. Balch and is located
on Grant Brook in Lyme. (Lyme Historians)
The falls at Boltonville on the Wells River was one of the significant sources of hydropower in the area. The river falls about 60 feet in a distance of about 130 feet. The first mill was build at this site in 1775 by the Scots-American Company of Ryegate.

There were three log or timber dams on the falls of the Waits River in Bradford. Pictured above is a repair crew working on the flume that leads to one of the factories near the second falls (c. 1880's) Bradford Historical Society
The Comerford Dam in North Monroe/East Barnet was constructed between 1928 and 1930. Up to 2700 men worked on the project, with crews working around the clock. A village was created to house and feed the men.
The completed Comerford dam was the first stage in the development of the
Fifteen Mile Falls area of the Connecticut River

This bronze plaque recalls that the dam was named in honor of Frank D. Comerford,

President of the New England Power Associaton at the time of its construction. These next photos were on Wednesday, Sept.15, 2010 during a tour of the dam. Staff member ScottFullam, Control Technician, was my very helpful tour guide.

"The Button"

In the lobby of the Cumerford Dam power station is mounted the button President Hoover pushed to activate the dam. The inscription reads: "By pressing this button, set up in the telegraph room of the White House in Washington, Herbert Hoover, President of the United

States , at 10:30 A.M. on September 30, 1930, placed Cumerford Station in operation. The impulse from the President's finger, traveling 700 miles over a special telephone circuit, opened the turbine gates and set no. 2 generator in operation."

This is the channel in the Connecticut River downstream from the Comerford dam.

The downstream face of the dam shows the "jersey barrier" type

supports that hold the dam in place.

As printed in Journal-Opinion
September 15, 2010.

Fifteen thousand years ago, the retreating glaciers deposited a giant dam near Rocky Hill, Connecticut. A huge lake, known as Lake Hitchcock, extended 200 miles up the river to present-day St. Johnsbury. By the time the dam gave way about 12,000 years ago, it had given a new shape and fertility to the Connecticut River Valley.

Within the heritage of the Abenaki, who peopled this valley before the coming of the Europeans, are legends of Odzihozo, the earth-shaper and Ktsi Amiskw, the Great Beaver.

This Great Beaver held back the waters of the Kwanitekw, or the Connecticut. But a cousin of Odzihozo broke the back of the beaver and released the captive waters.

On September 30, 1930, President Herbert Hoover pressed a button in the White House and one of the turbines in a newly-constructed dam on the Connecticut River between East Barnet and North Monroe began to produce electricity that was sent to southern New England.

On Saturday, September 18, the Third Annual Local Energy Alternatives Festival will be held in Bradford. Organized by the Energy Committee of the Bradford Conservation Commission along with others, it will be dedicated to, “renewable energy, sustainable living, local food production, transition to a world without oil and re-skilling.” A tour of the hydro-electric station at the dam on the Waits River is just one of the activities.

Taking its lead from these four events, this column deals with the history of dams in our area. In addition to standard local histories, it takes information from Where the Great River Rises, published by the Connecticut River Joint Commissions and From the Rivers by John T. Landry and Jeffrey L. Cruikshank.

Runoff from ample rainfall flows down the rocky foothills of the Green and White Mountains into the valley, creating rapidly flowing streams and numerous waterfalls. Ponds and lakes release their overflows down outlets to rivers into the Connecticut. Where hydropower was created by flowing and falling waters, the earliest settlers established their homes. The building of mills to grind grain and saw lumber was of primary importance.

For many of these mills, dams enhanced the available power. Some of these were rudimentary dams that sometimes didn’t survive the spring freshets. Others were stout wooden frameworks of logs or timbers filled with earth and stone. Where there were rock outcrops, these dams might be secured by iron spikes. Norman Smith’s History of Dams explains that the upstream wall might be sloped, “causing the pressure of the water to stabilize the dam and hold the facing materials in place…the air face was vertical so that the overflow fell straight.”

Some dams operated on a “store-and-release” principle, storing water until it was needed. Other mills operated with natural flow or “run-of-the river” design. In many cases, the mills were “high water mills” that operated only portions of the year. Dams on navigated rivers had to “include canals and locks for passage of lumber and farm products.” Water was transferred to a mill’s waterwheel by a sluice or canal to a gate that regulated the flow.

The power of the rushing or falling water was harnessed by means of waterwheels. “Protruding boards on these wheels, called ‘buckets,’ caught the downward pressure of waterfalls, turning the wheel and rotating the attached power shaft.” Wheels were of different designs with water being caught at the top, middle or bottom of the wheel.

Each town’s local history chronicles the many mills and dams located on the lakes, rivers
and streams of its community. There were as many as 50 water wheels on the Ompompanoosuc and its tributaries. At one time or another, there were a similar number on Jacob’s Brook in Orford. Wherever there was flowing water, small industrial sites developed.

Some of these include Post Mills and the other villages of Thetford, Waits River and the other villages of Topsham, East Corinth, East Ryegate, Wells River and the other valley villages of Newbury, Woodsville and the other villages of Haverhill and all along the brooks of Lyme, Piermont and Orford.

Dams were also located at the outlets on lakes such as Lake Fairlee, Morey, Tarleton and Ricke and Halls as well as Ticklenaked Pond. In addition to providing power for mills, these dams regulated the level of the lakes. Many lakes and ponds still rely on dams for that purpose.

In addition to grist and saw mills, the early water wheels ground clover and linseeds for oil; turned lathes that fashioned chairs and bobbins; powered machines that made fishing poles, paper, shingles, boxes and clothes pins. They pressed fruit for cider and jelly. Electricity was generated at Woodsville on the Ammonoosuc and at Thetford Center at the Great Falls of the Ompompanoosuc.

The falls in the Waits River at Bradford and the Boltonville Falls on the Wells River have been two of the most significant sites for power production on tributaries of the Connecticut. The first mills at Boltonville were built in 1775 by the Scots-American Company of Ryegate. Katharine Blaisdell’s Over the River and Through the Years describes the development of the river, which, at Boltonville, falls about 60 feet in a distance of about 130 feet. In 1909, the Ryegate Light and Power Company built a power plant at the foot of the second falls. Damaged by the 1927 flood, the dam was repaired and continued operation until the 1950’s, when the plant was severely damaged by lightning.

In 1772, John Peters built the first mill at the falls in Bradford. It was a grist mill
located just south of the Route 5 bridge. Two years later, Benjamin Baldwin built a sawmill at the third falls near the present Bradford Veneer and Panel Company. In 1847, Asa Low built the brick grist mill that stands at the entrance to Bradford village. Other mills, including Low’s large paper mill, stood on the west side of the river and used water from three dams to power their machines.

At the1847 grist mill, the water was carried from the fall by a wooden flume under the bridge into the basement of the mill. The water turned a large water wheel and then returned to the river. The interior location, common in many northern mills, prevented the wheel from freezing in cold weather. In 1897, the Bradford Electric Light Company began to use the old gristmill for the production of electricity and in 1902, built a stone arch dam at the middle falls. This dam was built from cut stones remaining from Low’s destroyed paper mill. The height of the dam was raised in 1921 with a 16-foot concrete section.

In 1972, the hydroelectric dam had become silted and damage to the main turbine caused the plant to be closed. In August, 1981, Central Vermont Power Company spent $3.5 million to rebuild the dam and powerhouse. Presently, it has the capacity to produce 1,500 kilowatt-hours of generated electricity. One of the activities of Saturday’s LEAF Festival will be a tour of the adjacent power station.

As has been stated before, on September 30, 1930, what is now known as the Comerford Dam in North Monroe was officially set into operation. Begun in 1928, the project employed up to 2,700 men, with crews working around the clock. It was built in cooperation with the New England Power Association which had begun to acquire land and water rights on both sides of the river several years earlier.

United Opinion articles at the time described the dam as “the largest hydro-electric plant ever built in New England.” It was the first phase of the mammoth Fifteen Mile Falls development, and it rose 175 feet above the river bed and stretched 2,253 feet from shore to shore. It had the largest concrete retaining wall ever built in the United States and each of its four turbines were capable of developing 54,000 horsepower of electricity. The electricity was sent by newly-constructed steel tower lines to Massachusetts, thus saving an estimated 200,000 tons of coal annually.

President Hoover’s role was particularly appropriate because, as Secretary of Commerce and chairman of a special government commission that was studying the “super-power” resources of the northeastern section of the country, he had visited New England. The commission’s report highlighted the need to develop the hydroelectric potential of the Connecticut generally and the Fifteen Mile Falls specifically. In that section of the Connecticut, the river drops 367 feet in elevation and, “for centuries the 400,000 horse power… was running wastefully to the sea.”

The other two dams in the Fifteen Mile Falls project are the McIndoes Station in Monroe, completed in 1931, and the Moore Station in 1957. The latter is located south of Littleton, N.H, and is the largest of the three with an output of 190,000 kilowatts. Together the three dams “comprise the largest hydroelectric generating complex in New England.”

The last significant project on the Connecticut in our region was the rebuilding of Wilder Dam(1950-1952) at the Wilder Falls. The first dam was built in 1882, slightly north at the Olcott Falls. That dam was of timber-crib construction with a concrete dam added in 1926. It had initially been built to supply water power to a paper mill, with hydroelectricity capacity added later. The mill closed in 1927.

A new dam was proposed in 1944, but local opponents such as Henry W. Keyes Jr. of North Haverhill, fought its construction in a protracted legal battle. They pointed out that the increased height of the proposed dam, and the resulting lake, would flood thousands of acres of prime farmland. Despite these concerns, some of which have proven accurate, the dam was completed. Prior to the construction of the dam, one could see the middle rock base for the Fairlee-Orford covered bridge as a small island south of the present bridge. As a result of the higher level of water, it no longer can be seen even in the most prolonged drought. The resulting lake with its flood control capability has made possible riverside homes and river recreation unknown in the 1950’s. In 2017, all four of these modern dams were purchased by Boston-based Great River Hydro from TransCanada Hydro Northeast. The State of Vermont had looked into buying 13 hydroelectric stations from TransCanada by ArcLight Capital Partners, owners of Great River was more aggressive in their bidding.

Following the devastating floods of 1927 and 1936, a different type of dam was built.
Specifically designed for flood-control, they remain generally empty during most of the time. Three such dams are the ones at East Barre, Union Village and North Hartland.

The mighty dams on the Connecticut are the modern descendants of the mammoth glacial dam of Lake Hitchcock and, perhaps, even the giant dam created by the legendary Great Beaver. With their huge artificial mounds of rock, flooded acres and altered riverbanks, they are like Odzihozo, the earth-shaper. Dams have created the industrial and recreational bases of towns and villages throughout our region and continue to give electrical lifeblood to our modern way of life. Water controlled behind dams throughout the valley means a constant supply of drinking water for people and animals and water with which to fight fires. The water that would otherwise flood homes is held in check.

The power from the hydroelectric dams free industry from being located only on the banks of rivers and streams. Whether small or large, whether the water released from them turn waterwheels or turbines, they represent the renewable energy being celebrated by the LEAF Festival this weekend. For nearly 250 years, dams have taken the power of rushing water, increased its natural power and used it over and over again as it flows to the sea.