Vermont history from 1950-1999

What historic events happened in the end of the 20th century?

September 9, 1951 

The change to dial telephones from those which were hand cranked began in Burlington, Vermont.

Connecting: The Telephone in the Mad River Valley (PDF)

June 11, 1954

Vermont senator Ralph Flanders began his successful campaign to censure Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin. McCarthy had been the leader of public hearings that set out to accuse Americans in government of having communist sympathies. McCarthy accused people without enough evidence, violating their rights to a fair trial under the Constitution.

November 2, 1954

Consuelo Northrop Bailey was the first woman elected lieutenant governor of any state in the United States. In 1953 she was the first woman elected speaker of the Vermont House of Representatives; at that time, there were fifty-two women in the Vermont legislature, more than any state had ever had. During her career, Consuelo Northrop Bailey ran for office twenty-four times and won twenty-four times.

July 5, 1961

Robert Frost became Vermont's first Poet Laureate. A Poet Laureate is a special honor that a state or the nation gives to a poet. Though Frost was born in California, he made Vermont his home. He owned several farms across the state and spent much of his time in Ripton.

Robert Frost in Ripton (video)

March 23, 1968

Vermont passed a law banning billboards. Many Vermonters thought these large advertising signs cluttered the countryside and blocked mountain views.

April 4, 1970

On this date the Vermont legislature passed a piece of legislation designed to protect the state's scenic landscape. Act 250, as the Land Use and Development Law was called, was the first legislation of its kind to be passed anywhere in the United States.

Protecting Vermont's Air, Land and Water (PDF)

February 14, 1978

The Vermont state lottery was held for the first time.

Playing the Odds (PDF)

May 5, 1978

Ben & Jerry's opened their first ice cream shop in Burlington. On their one-year anniversary they hosted their first ever free cone day in Vermont. Ben & Jerry’s now has ice cream shops across the United States and the world.

December 20, 1980

The Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe burned to the ground. The lodge was owned by the Trapp Family Singers, the same family made famous from books and movies like the Sound of Music. A new hotel was opened after the fire.

June 2, 1981

A Vermont company earned a US patent for the Jogbra. The Jogbra is the invention of Hinda Schreiber, Eugenie Lindahl, and Polly Smith. They wanted to make women runners more comfortable by creating a new type of underwear.

November 6, 1984 

Madeleine Kunin was elected the first woman governor in the history of the state of Vermont. She was reelected two years later by a slim margin when she ran against Peter Smith and Bernie Sanders. 

Who was a Vermonter in the 1980s?

April 29, 1986

The Vermont Senate adopted a resolution encouraging "serious scientific inquiry into the existence of any unusual animal in Lake Champlain, especially … the one commonly known as 'Champ.'"

Vermont's Very Own Monster (PDF)

November 18, 1989

The Montshire Museum of Science had its grand opening in Norwich. The Montshire is a museum that shows people how cool science is. The museum started in Hanover, New Hampshire before moving to Vermont.

December 3, 1990

Governor Madeleine Kunin appointed Denise R. Johnson to the Vermont Supreme Court. Johnson was the first woman to be a Justice on this court. Since her appointment, other women have joined the Supreme Court. Johnson served until 2011 when she stepped down.

March 11, 1992

An ice jam caused the Winooski River to flood Montpelier. The water rose fast. Flooding lasted for 12 hours. The high water damaged many homes and businesses. The city closed for three days as people cleaned up.

September 19, 1995

The very first Walmart in Vermont opened in Bennington. Some Vermonters did not want a new building to be built for the store. Walmart placed their store in a building already in town.

Copy and paste this citation to show where you did your research.

Vermont Historical Society. "Vermont history from 1950-1999." Vermont History Explorer. Accessed October 1, 2023.

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