Slate History Trail – GHOST TOWN MILLS – Vermont: Part 2

This video is ALL about the 2 mills.  The first one was a sawmill and we’re looking from the road into the woods at ruins.  The second was a slate mill and we’re following the trail into those woods to see what’s left of the 1868 structure.  I’m so close, I could have touched it!  Given how much it’s leaning…spoiler alert…I did not touch anything!

If you’re thinking that sounds amazing, IT WAS!!  And then…I found an entrance at the back and walked in.  For those who have been inside buildings that are still standing, you may be disappointed.  I was not.  I was still excited, to be honest.  🙂  I was still feeling like a kid in a candy shop.

I had read elsewhere that the wall I was following was 80 feet long.  It certainly went on forever!  So cool!!

“In 1868, the slate company built a new mill for the preparation of purple and green flooring, billiard tables, sinks and washtubs.  At the time the mill was constructed, it was one of the largest slate finishing mills in the country.

The mill was powered by a waterwheel 24 feet in diameter.  It had seven circular saws, a band saw, a jigsaw, five planers, two rubbing beds and a jointer.  The mill burned in 1870 and was rebuilt on a smaller scale.

In the 1880’s, Samuel Hazard Jr., the former treasurer and supervisor of the slate company, ran the new mill and the quarries as the Lake Shore Slate Company.  Hazard’s great-great-granddaughter, Martha Warren, left the slate company land to the State of Vermont.

Although the beautifully carved date stone is still standing, the mill walls are crumbling…”

“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.”-

The front of the 1868 slate finishing mill.

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