Brief history of Shelburne
The 19th century
A changing landscape
As Shelburne grew, so did the needs and opportunities for its residents. Following the War of 1812, Lake Champlain became a major source of transportation and revenue, and the Shelburne Shipyard was founded in 1820. For 85 years the shipyard build a series of steamboats that formed the backbone of marine transportation and economy in the Champlain Valley. The last of these, the Ticonderoga, was launched in 1905, and is preserved today at the Shelburne Museum.

During the 1800s, Shelburne agriculture went through a series of changes in response to fluctuating national and world markets. During the early part of the 19th century, extensive logging for potash cleared the landscape, though this market dwindled by 1813. The arrival of Merino sheep from Spain in 1811 began the next craze, and by 1840 sheep dominated the Shelburne landscape, with over 17,000 animals for a human population of 1,089. After the Civil War, the sheep boom ended as Western lands opened up, and orchards became dominant for a time. Throughout the century, traditional agriculture continued to produce general food products and support the local population.

In 1902, the first car rolled into town from Burlington, marking the next great change for Shelburne. Soon gas pumps were installed downtown where hitching posts used to stand, and the modern era began.

First Shelburne Shipyard building, built ca. 1827
Downtown Shelburne around the turn of the century