I was interested in Mark Bushnell’s Sunday article on Vermont’s low population and slow growth from 1850 to 1950. Vermont’s Dark Age, as some people called it. Some members of our family were among those who left Vermont and migrated west during this period.
Low population can also be seen in a geographical context. Vermont is the only New England state which is landlocked. Coastal cities like Boston, Providence, R.I., and New Haven, Conn., already by 1850 had a core population benefiting from oceanic trade. Even today Burlington, Vermont’s largest city with 40,000 people, is only a fraction of the population of these cities. Once again, water location, in this case Lake Champlain and Canadian trade, are related to Burlington’s growth.
An additional locational circumstance is connected to natural resources, coal and iron, limited or missing in Vermont. America’s Midwest, with generous amounts of each, led to the making of steel and countless byproducts. Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit grew to be large cities. The Great Lakes also furnished an inland waterway for transport of materials and finished goods.
Vermont today, with low population density, is still a rural state, second only to Maine. As Bushnell indicates, some Vermont officials fear our population is stagnating. How does quantity of life relate to quality of life? This is a topic for another discussion.
The letter writer is a professor emeritus of geography.
- Most Popular
- Most Emailed
- MEDIA GALLERY