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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Winter is surely not giving up with a whimper.  We've had blustery northwest winds all day and even some snow in the air from time to time - I mean other than what the wind is blowing around.  We had about an inch of new snow early this morning and flurries until about noon, then just the incessant wind.  I don't think the temperature rose out of the teens all day, and with the wind it felt like well below zero.  I did my usual walk, and most of the way was fairly protected from the wind, but at the end of our driveway by the mail boxes, it was bitterly cold.  Although "spring" is only two days away, I'm not very confident anything is going to change dramatically.  I think we're permanently stuck in winter mode.

Like every other year, plans are being made to take advantage of whatever warm weather there is ahead and Vermont highways will be cluttered with renewal projects.  Work will begin as soon as possible repaving, rebuilding and reworking our roads, both paved and unpaved "back" roads.  One such project we know about is the old bridge on Rte. 15 in Walden.  That job was either delayed or abandoned a few years ago, I don't know which.  This year it's a "go" - or rather, a "must do" as the bridge is in bad shape and the hope is to get done as quickly as possible - within about 30 days, is the plan.  This link will tell you about it.  If you have questions, there is a meeting in Cabot on April 6th at 7 p.m. that may be informative.

Speaking of roads, as I go through newspaper archives looking for West Danville items, I found some interesting stuff about early roads.  At one point "saw dust" was used for fill; later granite chips were used.  It wasn't until 1902 that there was any mention of a "road machine," and it may have looked a lot like this one built in the 1880s by the American Champion Company in Pennsylvania.  These machines were drawn by horses or oxen.  The later models were drawn by tractors.  The above picture is from an ad for the machines back in the day.  In the winter, roads were rolled and during storms such as we've had lately with lots of snow and wind, roads were impassable for days at a time and business at the mills and stores ground to a halt.  The logging industry depended on snow to draw the logs to the mills and if there was a thaw and bare ground, sleds were useless, just as when there was too much snow teams couldn't get through.  March storms were the worst, not only stalling road traffic, but often drifting so the trains couldn't run until a small army of men with shovels broke through the drifts.
This picture was taken just north of West Danville village in 1884. It is from the collection of Jane Larrabee, loaned to the Danville Historical Society.  Click to make it larger.  March in Vermont has always had a reputation for massive storms.  Still, we should "think spring."



 

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