Spas and Hotels: (1790 - 1940)
Hyde Manor; Sudbury, Vermont
Vermont's earliest spas and resort hotels developed around mineral springs, which promised relief from a variety of illnesses in an atmosphere of rest and relaxation. As early as 1781, Clarendon Springs opened its medicinal waters to the public, and over subsequent decades a number of large resort hotels were established around these "miracle springs," drawing Vermont's first tourists to benefit from their alleged cures. The coming of the railroad in the 1850s stimulated the rise of village and city hotels. Around the same time, carriage and pony trails were constructed up mountains, leading to "summit houses" built to accommodate visitors seeking fresh air and expansive views. By the late 19th century, the summer home industry and the growing popularity of sports, outdoor recreation and camping, began to overshadow the appeal of spas and resort hotels.
Seasonal Residents: (1870-1940)
Tourist Cabins; West Danville, Vermont
Vermont first began attracting seasonal residents on a significant scale during the late 19th century. Beginning in the 1890s, both in an effort to stimulate the rural economy, as well as to fill the growing number of abandoned farms, the State embarked on a campaign to "sell" Vermont, advertising it not simply as a place to visit, but more importantly as a place to buy one's second home. The expansion of Vermont's railroad network after the Civil War brought throngs of visitors each year to take advantage of the state's scenic and recreational opportunities; old farmsteads gained new life, while lake shores began to thicken with summer cottages. After the arrival of the automobile the second home industry gained considerable momentum as vacationers, no longer dependent upon the railway, were able to venture into the hinterlands in search of old farms and secluded camp sites. For more transient visitors, tourist cabin developments were built in increasing numbers, both to accommodate the independent motorist, as well as to supplement boarding houses and hotels. Since the development of the ski industry, the second home market has expanded to include seasonal residences for winter as well as summer.
Outdoor Recreational Industry: (1870-1940)
Stratton Mountain Fire Tower; Stratton, Vermont
After the Civil War, factors such as urbanization, improved transportation, a growing acceptence of "leisure" and popular entertainment, together with a general rise in the standard of living for most Americans, stimulated the beginnings of the outdoor recreational industry. As the number of urban residents continued to grow, more and more people began to escape for a few weeks or months each year to the "great outdoors." Activities such as sports events, hiking, fishing, hunting, boating, and horseback riding became increasingly popular during the late 19th and early 20th century. Vermont's first summer camps for children were established in the 1890s. At the same time, the conservation movement got underway as people began to shift their view of the environment from a resource to be exploited to one that should be enjoyed and preserved. The Green Mountain Club was established in 1910 to promote the enjoyment of the mountains, and develop a trail system. With the availability of the automobile scenic areas were made accessible to growing numbers of people. During the Depression years, the Civilian Conservation Corps cleared hiking trails, some of Vermont's first ski trails, and built numerous overlooks, shelters and lookout towers.
All information and photographs from the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation
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The University of Vermont Historic Preservation Program
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