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What Makes Richmond Richmond?
by Brad Elliot
The Times Ink of Richmond and Huntington
March 2001

Richmond residents are getting a close look at their town's natural and cultural landscape through the upcoming Richmond Geographic lecture series.

Volcanoes spewing lava along Rt. 2? A wooly mammoth tusk unearthed above the Cochran Ski Area? Upper Huntington Gorge powering an underwear factory in the center of Richmond?

Each is a part of Richmond's past, and in many ways it continues to shape the present, as the 70 people packed into the Town Center meeting room learned on March 9.

Richmond resident Walter Poleman, a UVM professor specializing in landscape natural history, took the crowd for a 90-minute journey through 4.5 billion years of Richmond's past. It was the opening event in the four-part Richmond Geographic lecture series Poleman has organized with sponsorship from UVM, Shelburne Farms and the Richmond Conservation Commission.

Poleman showed aerial photos of the Richmond landscape and described its formation from the bedrock on up. Displays included part of that shed mammoth tusk. Poleman noted how "Richmond sits astride two physiographic regions" - the Champlain Valley and the Green Mountains - and how that has led to the rich array of soils, vegetation, climate, habitat and wildlife found in the town.

Poleman's presentation was followed by a slide show by geographer Jane Dorney who took the crowd through a brief history of the town's cultural landscape - "where things are and why they're where they are."

Next presentation on April 11

On April 11, Dorney takes an even closer look at the patterns of human habitation in Richmond the early roads, the first far-flung farms, the growth of communities, the cutting and subsequent rebirth of local woodlands, the impact of the railroad and interstate highway, and other factors that combined to made Richmond what it is today. -more- Subsequent presentations will feature birds (May 23) and natural communities (June 13) that can be found in Richmond. All sessions start at 7 p.m. in the Town Center Meeting Room, and they are free.

Richmond Geographic is a pilot project of the PLACE Program (Place-based Landscape Analysis and Community Education), which is a collaborative effort of the UVM Naturals Areas Center and Shelburne Farms. Through the program, teachers at Richmond Elementary, Camel's Hump Middle and Mt. Mansfield Union High Schools are earning credit at UVM by learning how to incorporate Richmond's natural and cultural history into their curricula and foster a deeper understanding of the town's unique heritage and resources among their students.

For more information on Richmond Geographic, call 434-3543.

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