Photographs by Frank

5 May 2022

Weathersfield Center (again) and Baltimore, Vermont

Filed under: Landscapes,Misc.,Spring — Frank @ 11:17 PM

Back at the end of March, I visited Weathersfield Center, VT for the first time and discovered the wonderful meeting house there. After this excursion, I looked at a map of the general area and noticed the nearby town of Baltimore. Joan was born in Baltimore, Maryland and our daughter, Katrina, has lived there for the last fifteen or so years. Thus, I decided that when I next visited this part of Vermont I would go see Baltimore. Today was the day!

This morning, I taught an introduction to photography tutorial for the Vermont Center for Photography in Brattleboro. After I was done teaching, I pointed my truck north. The weather was pleasantly warm and the skies were partly cloudy.

I stopped first in Weathersfield Center. My first visit there was on a cold, damp day and I used my camera obscura exclusively that day. Today, the light was much more conducive to photography. I made photographs with both the camera obscura and my ‘regular’ camera. I left the images from the latter as color since I like the contrast between the warm orange bricks, the cool azure sky and the green spring grass. I also noticed (and photographed) the nearby town pound* with an interesting iron gate. I had completely missed the pound on my first visit.

After photographing the meetinghouse, I attempted to head towards Baltimore. Notice I said “attempted”… I had either one of those “you can’t get there from here” (use a thick New England accent when you read that!) moments or my map was broken.

Eventually, I got out my phone, fired up its GPS application and, without further drama, found the westernmost end of Baltimore Rd (on VT10 just to the west of the junction with VT106 in North Springfield). Baltimore Road, which is not paved, makes a six mile loop through town. The other end intersects VT106 just north of the junction with VT10. The two ends of Baltimore Road are less than a mile apart!

Roughly half way along this loop one comes to the Baltimore Town Hall (see the last photo below). The (rather nondescript) town hall is the only public building in Baltimore. There is nary church, etc.

Upon arriving home, I learned a bit more about Baltimore by Googling, of course, as any modern guy would do! It turns out that the current population of the town is roughly 230 people, about what it was two hundred years ago (i.e. in the early 1800s) and quite a bit higher than the low of about fifty in the early 1900s**.

The town has a total of 7.2 miles of roads, all of which are unpaved. Just out of the frame on the right of my photo of town hall sits a road grader; my guess is this is only significant asset the town owns other than the town hall.

The town hall was built in 1894 as a one room school house and was used as such until 1988!

In summary, Baltimore is a bit out of the way and on the quiet side, but I am glad that I made the trip. Maybe, I will go back some day and drive the other twenty percent of the the town roads that I missed this time thorough!

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* Town pounds are small, generally stone wall enclosed areas where wayward livestock were penned up until their owners could ransom them. Loose livestock were a serious matter when most folks depended on their gardens and fields for the bulk of their sustenance and the ‘fuel’ for their horses and oxen. Stray livestock could quickly decimate a garden and thus were rapidly escorted to the town pound before (hopefully) they could do much damage. The owner of the strays would then have to pay a fine in order to retrieve their animals from the pound.

** This pattern is typical for many small towns in New Hampshire and Vermont. Populations peaked in the first half of the nineteenth century when sheep farming was at its peak and declined thereafter as farmers moved to more fertile territory as the mid-west (then “the west”) was ‘settled’. Populations generally reached their lows in the first quarter of the twentieth century and slowly rebounded thereafter. The current population of many small northern New England towns is roughly the same as it was two centuries ago.

1 Comment

  1. Most interesting – thanks for the brief history on Baltimore and the Town Pound.Like the first one in color and its counterpart in obscura. Small wonder that the townspeople didn’t come out to see the “foreigner” passing through town!

    Comment by Joe Kennedy — 6 May 2022 @ 8:13 AM

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