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Monday, February 02, 2015

    Do you remember my saying back in November or early December something about we might have to pay later for all that nice weather?  If I didn't write that on the blog, you can bet I was thinking it, and I bet lots of other people were, too.  It figures - we need to be brought back to reality sometimes, and Ma Nature is doing it with all her might.  Not only are we getting a lot of snow - something like 8 inches, more or less, so far and this storm isn't quitting until tomorrow a.m. - but add to all that white stuff that it's been zero or below all day with the wind blowing, and you've got serious "payback." 
    I walked the hill at noon and it was tough going even though Fred was ahead of me with the snow blower!  (No, it wasn't just for me!  He likes to keep the driveway with two "tracks" plowed so Jamie and Marie have an easier time getting up when they come home.)  The snow is so cold and light, it just sort of mushes around underfoot and in spots where there is a little ice underneath, it's very slippery.  I can only imagine what the main roads are like - the news at noon reported a few fender-benders, but nothing serious so far.  I've had the scanner on and the road crews have been plowing and sanding all day.  Some are heading home for a little rest and are going to be back out there at 8 o'clock tonight, another crew coming on in the early a.m. hours, hoping to keep a little ahead of things.  I think the worst of it is the dreadful cold and wind.  You sure don't want to be caught off the road in weather like this.
    Here's something to look forward to - mark your calendars for the North Danville Roast Pork Supper!  Doesn't that sound good?  If it's anything like their chicken pie suppers, it will be wonderful.  They even deliver!  Be sure to call before Feb. 18th, though, if you want take-out.
    I've been searching old newspapers today and found lots of information about the St. J. & L. C. R.R. when it was being planned and built.  That was  a great boon to the towns along its route.  I hadn't realized there was a plan for the line, tentatively called the St. Johnsbury & Montpelier Railroad, to run west from West Danville to Montpelier through Marshfield.  Apparently there wasn't the enthusiasm for that route that there was for the Lamoille River route.  When surveying for the route from St. Johnsbury, it was found that going through North Danville was considerably shorter; however, the line would need to cross Sleeper's River at least six times, which would require bridges that would not only add to the cost, it would also slow the progress.  The route they finally decided upon was also very difficult as there were steeper grades and at one point a very large wooden trestle had to be built (Pumpkin Hill Trestle) and that was quite an achievement.  The Fairbanks family was very interested in having the railroad connect to the routes on the western side of the state, and the first two miles of rail laid from St. Johnsbury was to the Fairbanks Company, and that immediately increased their business.  The same happened all along the route.  Each town benefited by having the railroad.  North Danville was left out, unfortunately, and that caused some friction over promised funding from Danville.  There was some talk of a spur running through Cabot, but even though that didn't come about, Cabot pledged money to help build the station at Walden which was sometimes known locally as "Cabot Station."  Cabot used both the Walden station and the one in Marshfield to send and receive goods. The first trains ran only between East Hardwick and St. Johnsbury because it took longer to build the western end of the line.  Eventually the last rail was laid in Fletcher on July 2, 1877, establishing rail service from the Portland & Ogdensburg line all the way to Swanton, Lake Champlain and Canada.
    It was amazing how many men worked to build the railroad - two or three hundred at different times.  It must have made boom towns along the route, but there were also shanty towns where the workmen lived while laboring on the line.  A lot of French workers came to work on it - there wasn't that much of a labor force available locally. 
    Stay warm and be sure to keep your animals inside these very cold nights.  Tonight is going to be another cold one and the forecast is for pretty much more of the same for the rest of the week.  Sorry about that!  The good news is, since the groundhog didn't see his shadow today, spring may be only six weeks away . . . ! 

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