Vermont history from 1900-1949

What historic events happened in the first half of the 20th century?

November 6, 1902

A big meeting in Manchester stops the building of an electric trolley car system. People fear that the noise of the cars and the ugly electric wires will keep away tourists.

February 3, 1903

Vermont’s state-wide prohibition of alcohol ended. Towns gained the option to allow alcohol use or not. Towns voted each year on this decision. During the time of prohibition, people could not make, sell, or drink alcohol.

April 18, 1906

The Steamboat Ticonderoga was launched on Lake Champlain. The Ticonderoga, which many called Ti, was the last steamboat built along Lake Champlain. People used the boat to travel. The boat operated on the lake almost 50 years. The Ticonderoga was moved to the Shelburne Museum in 1955.

October 29, 1909

At a meeting in the Baptist Church in Barre, a group of fourteen youths started the first Boy Scout troop in America. Their leader, William Milne, was from Scotland, where he got the idea for such a club. One of the charter members of the first American Boy Scout troop, Deane Davis, later became governor of Vermont. In 1950 the United States Postal Service honored the formation of the Boy Scouts of America with a three-cent stamp.

September 8, 1910

Nineteen-year-old George Schmitt of Rutland became the first Vermonter to make an engine-powered airplane flight.

September 15, 1910

Charles Willard flew an airplane for six minutes in St. Johnsbury. The plane was brought by train from Boston to the Caledonia County Fairgrounds.

Read more about Charles Willard's flight over St. Johnsbury in the St. Johnsbury Caledonian from 1910.

January 7, 1913

Important child labor laws are passed by the U.S. government. They limit the work week of children to fifty-eight hours. Photographs taken of children working even longer hours at woolen mills in Winooski and Bennington help convince people that these laws are needed.

The Bitter Cry of the Children (PDF)

Child Labor in Vermont

December 27, 1918

Frank Plumley, enjoying a meal in the dining room of the Pavilion Hotel in Montpelier, was delighted to find a large pearl in his serving of oyster stew.

April 21, 1920

Four hundred women gather in Montpelier, in the pouring rain, in support of the nineteenth amendment giving women the right to vote.

September 19, 1920

Captain Henry Stickney delivered airmail in Vermont for the first time. Stickney flew a plane to deliver mail to the Summit House, a hotel at the top of Mount Mansfield.

January 5, 1921

Edna Beard of Orange became Vermont's first woman legislator. There has never been a legislative session since without a woman member.

September 4, 1922 

WLAK, Vermont's first radio station, began broadcasting in Bellows Falls. Charles Doe, the announcer, was on the air six hours a day, with weather, farming tips, and piano and gramophone music.

August 3, 1923

At his family home at Plymouth, vice-president Calvin Coolidge was awakened in the night and sworn in as the thirtieth president of the United States, after president Warren G. Harding died. His father, John Coolidge, a notary public, administered the oath of office.

From Vermont Farm to the White House (PDF)

September 14, 1923

The Champlain Valley Fair finished its first season at the newly built Champlain Valley Exposition. Over 50,000 people attended. It began as the Essex Fair in Essex Center. The fair outgrew the old site and needed to move. The Champlain Valley Fair celebrates Vermont’s farming roots.

October 10, 1924

Vermont's first radio broadcast was made by WCAX from Burlington, Vermont.

July 27, 1927

Charles Lindbergh, the first person to make a solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean from New York to Paris, visited Vermont's first airfield and flying school in Springfield.

November 4, 1927

Vermont experienced the worst flood in its history. Over 9 inches of rain fell in two days causing rivers, fields and roads to flood.

Rain, Rain, and Still More Rain (PDF)

November 26, 1930

The Flynn Theater in Burlington opened. The theater had comedy shows and motion pictures (early movies). The Flynn is named for John J. Flynn. He was a rich businessman who lived in Burlington. Today, the Flynn hosts live shows and puts on camps and classes for students.

August 23, 1932 

The airplane, The Green Mountain Boy, took off from Berlin, Vermont, for Norway and disappeared without a trace.

April 1, 1933

Barre granite workers and stonecutters stopped working to protest their pay being cut by 35%. The strike lasted for over a month. On May 5th, the Stonecutters Union said they would take the wage cut. The Granite Workers Union did not agree. In the end, the granite workers won full pay and went back to work.

June 5, 1933

The first Civilian Conservation Corps (C.C.C.) in Vermont started work in Danby. The C.C.C. put unemployed men between the ages of eighteen and twenty-three to work on projects in the nation's forests and rural areas.

A Forest Army Goes to Work (PDF)

December 30, 1933

The temperature in Bloomfield, Vermont, dropped to fifty degrees below zero. This still stands as the lowest official temperature ever recorded in the state.

Above the Surface: Small State, Big Weather (PDF)

January 22, 1934

The first ski tow in the United States was set up in Woodstock, Vermont. The tow was powered by a Model T Ford engine which pulled the 900 yards of rope at a speed of thirty miles per hour. The first ticket for the rope tow was sold on January 28th.

Small Beginnings: The First Rope Tow in Vermont (PDF)

March 7, 1935

Amelia Earhart, who later became the first woman to make a solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean, speaks to the legislature on the future of the airplane.

March 3, 1936

Voters on Town Meeting Day vote against building the Green Mountain Parkway, a highway to connect the peaks of the Green Mountains.

Look at a larger map of the proposed road

September 21, 1938

A terrible hurricane caused the deaths of five Vermonters and cost more than twelve million dollars in damage.

September 26, 1945

The World War II Victory ship S. S. Brandon, named for the Vermont town, arrives in Boston with a cargo of U.S. soldiers returning from the war in Europe. Victory ships were built quickly during wartime to carry soldiers and supplies.

Homecoming: V-J Day and the G.I.s Return (PDF)

December 1, 1946

Paula Welden, a student from Bennington College, disappeared. Welden told her roommate that she wanted to go for a long walk. Since Vermont did not have state police, they called for help from other states. The Vermont State Police formed in 1947 because of this case.