In the writing room right now ...

In the writing room right now ... I have taken down the brown "butcher" paper that held ideas, photos, drawings, and my hand-drawn maps and plot outlines for the past five or six books. I've placed all those items into three-ring binders, and cleared the deck for paintings and photographs that involve courage, as I move forward in GHOSTKEEPER, the new novel set in Lyndonville, Vermont. My 1850 Vermont adventure THE LONG SHADOW is under contract with Five Star/Cengage -- I will give you a publication date as soon as I know! Scribbling lots of poems, too. And there's a possible route to publication of the "Vermont Nancy Drew" novel I built on Wattpad (see right-hand column). Yes, I guess I do like multi-tasking! How about you?

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Learning More "Little Things": Connecticut Valley Lumber Company

This year our region of Vermont is marking 100 years since the grand finale of river log drives on the Connecticut River, by the C.V.L. Co., the Connecticut Valley Lumber Company, owned by a self-made millionaire, George Van Dyke. Using stories recorded and perhaps lightly embellished by Waterford, Vermont, author Robert E. Pike, I often tell some of the history of Van Dyke's life and his river logging operations. (I did in Barnet on August 1, and will again in Concord, VT, on September 26, joined at both events by Robert Pike's author-and-historian daughter Helen C. Pike, who recounts a different side of the era through the life of logging entrepreneur Ruth Parks.)

A remarkable thing about the writing that I do about those days in Vermont history is: The research never ends. In all kinds of small details, I keep piling up information that fits with Robert Pike's tales (see Spiked Boots or Tall Tree, Tough Men, his noted collections). This weekend provided a classic example.

My husband Dave and I traveled an hour east, into the White Mountains, to savor a postcard show, where cards that were printed and often mailed from about 1890 to 1980 or so are marketed to collectors. Dave brought home some wonderful photos that fit the towns whose history he often promotes: Lyndonville and St. Johnsbury, Vermont.

Me, I brought home in elation (!!!) this postcard:



This boardinghouse and office of Van Dyke's C.V.L. Co. were in Bloomfield, Vermont -- most likely South Bloomfield, which was the earlier logging and milling center of the Essex County town. Today there are only about 265 residents of the town, but in the logging days it was a very busy place.

I was able to locate this information today, provided by the state of Vermont with its description of adjacent West Mountain Wildlife Management Area (WMA):
Timber harvesting on the WMA land begin in 1800 when the [neighboring] town of Brunswick issued a 400-acred "pitch" on Paul Stream to Ethiel Cargill. A large mill and small village were located further up Paul Stream at Brown's Mill. In 1900, the Connecticut Valley Lumber Company (CVL) moved its headquarters from Pittsburg, NH to Bloomfield, VT. This was the result of the discovery that the old-growth spruce south of the Nulhegan [river] was dying due to an infestation of spruce bark beetle.
It sounds like the company office was moved to focus more easily on this dying section of forest, to facilitate the harvest, doesn't it? That's what a map tends to confirm, too.

For me, one of the next questions is, what changes in forest health are now taking place due to climate change? And what will we see as people and logging businesses adapt to these, the way that George Van Dyke's company once did? Also -- what traces remain of the C.V.L. Co. boardinghouse and office shown here? I may need to plan a hike.