vermont historical society link HISTORY PROJECT LINK INFORMATION LINK

In Memoriam -
Maggie Bensen
What We Did
What We Did: Part 1
What We Did: Part 2
What We Did: Part 3
What We Did: Part 4
What We learned
Moving People
Moving Freight
Moving the River
Oral History
Barre Historical
Barre Elementary
and Middle School

Barre Community History Project -

What We Learned: Moving The River

Depot Square, like the other buildings on the south side of Main Street, was subject to continual flooding. On their field trip, the students discovered that the Stevens Branch of the Winooski River had been moved in 1910-1911 to avoid the constant disruption to business.

Have you ever wondered about the stream behind Depot Square? Sometimes peaceful— but other times roaring with terror? Have you ever wondered how it got there? Well, let me tell you. Back during when your grandparents lived, they moved the river.

LEFT: Removal of Prospect Street Bridge over old river bed, winter 1910-11. RIGHT: Excavation of new river bed, showing stabilization of banks with granite blocks, 1910
prospect st. photo new river photo

The students compared maps of Barre to see the change in the Stevens Branch channel.
LEFT: Sanborn Insurance Maps of Barre showing the old river bed, 1910. (Click map for a PDF version.) RIGHT: The Stevens Branch in its new channel, May 2, 2005
sanborn map stevens branch photo

1912 flood photo

Changing the course of the river did help, but it did not prevent regular flooding.

Not long after the move was complete, Depot Square was again inundated, in the spring of 1912.

The 1927 flood did a lot of damage to the Depot Square. The railroads and some trains were flopped over. Since the railroads were damaged, they had to use the trolley tracks on Main Street.

flood photo flood photo

ABOVE LEFT: Silt left by the flood covered the tracks behind the Depot, stranding a box car. ABOVE RIGHT: Overturned locomotive and dislodged tracks. BOTTOM RIGHT: Main Street with locomotives on the tracks of the streetcar line.
flood photo