*This is a multi-part series on the history of Warren, VT
*Read Part 1
By 1800 the population of Warren, VT was 58. 60 years later it had grown to 1041. By 1845 Warren maintained 13 schools with over 300 students. Flash forward to September of 1972 and the present school located on Brooks Recreation fields was opened and was the only school in Warren Village. The citizens included doctors, lawyers, merchants and chiefs. The feed, dairy and stock industries evolved into the leading businesses and this continued into the first quarter of the twentieth century. From the several small factories came clothespins, clapboard, shingles, wooden bowls, chair stock, butter boxes, tubs, doors, sashes, carriages, edged tools, and lumber.
The United Church of Warren, which stands today in the center of town, was built in 1839 by a local carpenter. Four denominations helped to build this church: Freewill Baptist, Methodist, Universalist, and Congregationalist. The church is now known as the United Church of Warren.
Throughout the 19th century transportation was difficult at best and impossible at worst. The roads were a challenge and at times impassable. So in 1875 a new railway was proposed through Warren but the project was dropped. It was then taken up again in 1895 before again dropped. In 1911 the project had a brief rebirth and was once more abandoned.
In 1879-1880 Warren’s beautiful covered bridge was built by Walter Bragley. It is a simple span with two flanking queen post trusses with no upper lateral bracing. It is 58 and 1/2 feet long and 16 1/2 feet wide with a 14 foot roadway. It was restored in 1955. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
In 1882 Warren had 50 dwelling houses, 1 church, 1 schoolhouse, 3 stores, 2 boot and shoe shops, 1 tannery, 5 blacksmith shops, 2 clap-board mills, 2 sawmills, 1 grist-mill, 3 carriage shops, 1 harness-shop, 1 tin-shop, 2 copper-shops, 2 clothes-pins shops, 1 gunsmith, 1 millinery shop, a tavern, and a post-office. At that same time, the dairy industry grew and flourished.
In 1890 two horse pulled snowrollers were built to maintain the roads, and horse and sleigh were the winter method of travel. However, before the century ended businesses thrived. There were carpenters, blacksmiths, boot and shoe dealers, trunk dealers, lumber dealers, an insurance agent, a clergyman, a dressmaker, a sleigh manufacturer, and an undertaker.
In the latter part of the 19th century the dairy industry continued to grow, along with the lumber and grist mills.
By 1904 Warren residents could have their hair cut at the barber shop and play a few games of billiards in the ell (a wing) of the old Warren House (now the Warren Store) and have a meal in the Bragg House in the center of the Village.
The Mad River brought both people and business to the town of Warren but with the benefit came the burden of flooding. Residents had become somewhat inured to the flooding and, indeed, one writer commented that “The Mad River without this turbulence would be like the play of Hamlet with Hamlet left out.” The flooding was hard on the farmers but particularly hard on the sawmill operators, since the mills were built directly on the water. Time and time again the mills would be washed out only to be rebuilt and then washed away one more time. And then came the Flood of 1927. The farmers, shop keepers, and mill workers who went to bed on November 3 after a lovely summer day woke to a two-day storm which washed away roads, bridges, farms, mills, shops, and thus destroyed lives, property and dreams of Warren citizens.
The population of Warren in 1930 was 654 souls. By 1940 it decreased to 450. The flood, tough times, and lack of opportunity caused young people to leave this rural community. Farms turned into brush and forest and there were only 3 dairy farmers left in Warren. As new world developments drew its youth to foreign shores and city lights, both population and progress subsided. In Warren quiet country life was the rule.
And then came the ski industry.
*To be continued…