Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Clearly Spelled Out Local History -- Until You Try to Pin It Down ...

Can you imagine the labor of going through every single edition of the local paper for decades, and writing up the high points of the news? I admire Claire Dunne Johnson's two volumes in which she did exactly that for St. Johnsbury, Vermont, and the vicinity, using the Caledonian-Record. The titles are "I See By the Paper" ... An Informal History of St. Johnsbury, with a first (unnumbered) volume that goes through 1919, and volume 2 covering 1920–1960.

Last weekend as Helen Pike organized the epic first work session for the Waterford, Vermont, history archives, I found myself rattling off a detail from volume 2, and (can I plead not enough caffeine?) I got the date wrong. I said 1925, and actually Mrs. Johnson clearly says 1935 in her book for this. Here's the event that intrigued me in that year:
We got the new Waterford bridge completed and opened in January of 1935. It ended up costing Vermont $12,250 and New Hampshire $87,300. It didn't solve all of the problems. In April it was reported that New Hampshire was setting up signs to indicate Rte. 302 from Littleton [NH] to Woodsville [NH] was the main east–west route. St. Johnsbury was upset, because Rte. 18 had long been part of the main route from Portland [Maine] to Burlington [VT]. Apparently an amicable solution was reached.
Thanks to my mistake on the year, we wrestled at our gathering with "which bridge was this one?" for a few minutes . Now that I've gone back to the pages of the book, though, it's pretty clear the bridge mentioned was the current Route 18 bridge, with its wide scenic span over the Connecticut River.

Still, I have to wonder, after the fact, whether part of the storm over the bridge could be related to earlier occasions when the route to our modest river-side town had other ups and downs. The great photo shown here comes from Dave Kanell's collection, and just arrived at our place a couple of weeks ago. On the back it says "Aug. 18, 1929 -- Poor Roads."

I'd love to know where the snapshot was taken and, importantly, who the smiling woman in the photo is. (Click on the photo to enlarge it.) Any suggestions?

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