Cultural Geography

European settlement deeply alters the land

During the past 250 years the Vermont landscape has recorded the history of European settlement in its stonewalls, cellar holes, cut stumps, barbed wire, lilac bushes, apple trees, and other signs in the forests.   Why did people chose to settle where they did?   When did they leave and what did they leave behind?  Vermont Master Naturalists explore these and other questions on a trip through the cultural geography of their town.


Ed Hall shows VMN Bristol 5 Town naturalists early 1900s photos of the Hoag Grist Mill and adjacent saw mill in Starkboro.  The grist mill dates from 1799, while Ed Hall’s house (behind the group) was built in 1831.  Typically grist mills for grinding wheat into flour were some of the earliest structures built in a village (photo by Ruth Beecher.)  Read more about the day here:


VMN Richmond naturalists compare old maps showing the blacksmith, harness shop and tannery to current buildings at Fay’s Corner (photo by Rebecca O’Dowd.)

Jeff Forward (VMN Richmond ’19) and cultural geographer Jane Dorney hold a photograph of his farm from the early 1900s (photo by Sandra Enman.)  The barn on the farm has three distinct architectural styles–English, Bank and Gambrel–that date from the early 1800s through the mid-1900s.  These additions to the barn document how the farmers adapted from subsistence farming to sheep and then to dairy.  VMN Richmond naturalist standing in the doorway of the barn (photo by Terry Marron.)

Image 3-25-19 at 10.26 AM

Image 3-25-19 at 10.25 AM

Cultural geographer Jane Dorney leads VMN Burlington naturalists on a walk through the City’s past from the site of multiple mills on the  Winooski River to the old center of trade down by the waterfront (photos by Clinton Sears.)


Samantha Ford leads VMN Burlington naturalists on an exploration of Ethan Allen Park. (Photo by Becca Harris)


Kristen Underwood discusses manufacturing history including a coffin shop along the New Haven River with VMN naturalists from the Bristol 5 Town program.

Banner photo by Sean Beckett