Slate History Trail Leads to GHOST TOWN at Bomoseen State Park!

“During the 1800s, the village of West Castleton, Vermont was bustling with activity centered around the slate industry. Now a ghost town, you can find remains of the abandoned village within Bomoseen State Park. By taking the Slate History Trail, you can hike through the remains of West Castleton and its fascinating history.

Within the boundaries of Bomoseen State Park in the towns of Castleton, Fair Haven, Hubbardton, and Benson is an abandoned village. The West Castleton Railroad and Slate Company Village sat on 600 acres of land between Glen Lake and Lake Bomoseen. In 1853, the village had a store, a school, two sawmills, several quarries, three barns, and 43 houses.

The production of slate in Vermont was only topped by that of the state of Pennsylvania. During the quarrying of slate, more than 85 percent of the quarried product was wasted. Slate mining was dangerous work with the use of blasting and manual labor. Men worked ten-hour days earning less than $2 for their labors. Workers were mainly Irish and Catholic immigrants. In the village of West Castleton, the company had a hold over their workers by owning the houses, regulating the sale of food and clothing, providing transportation, and more.

The Slate History Trail takes you to the site of the abandoned village. Wind along the easy 3/4 mile trail to check out the remains of this once active town. Pick up a trail guide at the park office that will explain the history of the sites you will visit. The trail takes about one hour to complete.

Follow the trail and you will first come to a slate rubble pile, this is the discarded quarried slate. Next, you’ll encounter the actual quarry. The quarry is filled with water but you’ll notice the double stacks of slate piled here. These were used to anchor the pulleys used to remove the slate from the quarry. As you continue on, you’ll find the foundations that are remains of the worker’s quarters. Visit the Barlow House and Museum next where you’ll encounter a small slate exhibit. The museum is built on the foundation of an abandoned row house.

The Old Mill and Dam is found on Hazard Brook. It once powered the sawmills and slate mills back in the day. Your next stop is the slate mill. This newer construction was built in 1868 as a finishing mill and was one of the largest in the country at that time. The walls of the mill are crumbling with age. Keep walking and you’ll find yourself at the stacked slate houses. Built in the 1880’s the house to the left was the store, company office, and post office. The other houses were lodging for the mill supervisors.”-

Don’t mistake this water for a “pond”. THIS was the quarry. The thick slabs of stacked slate on the right were called “dead men” and “anchored the derricks and pulleys used to hoist slate blocks from the quarry…(From the Bomoseen Slate Trail History trail guide.)”.

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