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.

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.

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)

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)

August 23, 1932 

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

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)