Region’s History

Southern Windsor County is in the heart of an area that is rich in early American history, offers endless opportunities for year-round outdoor recreation, and is easily accessible by rail, air, and automobile. The Region is a mix of rural countryside, historic industrial towns, and resort villages. Three major rivers – the Black River, Williams River, and Mill Brook – flow through the villages and former industrial centers, once providing a major source of power and transportation, and contributing to the scenic qualities of the landscape.

Our Region is known largely for its major ski resort, Okemo Mountain Resort in Ludlow. There are also two state parks; thousands of acres of state forest; several wildlife management areas; dozens of lakes, ponds, and reservoirs; three major river systems with countless tributary streams; hiking, cross-country skiing, and snowmobile trails; and many campgrounds, golf courses, and other facilities. Several towns and roads in the Region are favorites of commercial bicycle and touring companies.

Southern Windsor County is popular for its wealth of resources related to early Vermont and American history. The homes, shops, factories, and inns of the Region chronicle 18th and 19th century New England architecture. There are many state historic districts in the Region, and the towns of Springfield and Windsor are home to national historic districts.

The Vermont Constitution was debated and signed in Windsor; it was adopted in July of 1777 just as news arrived in town of the advance of General Burgoyne’s British and German troops into western Vermont. Modeled after Ben Franklin’s Pennsylvania Constitution, it was the first in North America to forbid slavery. The building where the signing took place is preserved as the Constitution House. The famous Crown Point Military Road goes through four towns in the Region. Connecting Fort Number 4 (just across the river in Charlestown, NH) with Crown Point, NY, it was used as a British supply route in the 1760s, and then to transport American cannons between Mount Independence, VT, and Boston during the Revolution. Early 19th century inventions of hydraulic pumps and rifle parts led to the birth and development of mass production and the American machine tool industry in Windsor and Springfield. This part of our history is told today at the American Precision Museum in Windsor. The machine tool industry, along with tourism, continues to be a major industry in modern day Southern Windsor County.

Issues that tie the Region’s communities together today include traffic on major transportation corridors such as Route 103 and proposals for new east-west transportation projects; regional economic events such as plant closings, ski area expansions, and the development of a new state correctional facility; and watershed issues. One watershed group, the Mill Brook Watershed Association, formed in 2000 to address erosion issues in the watershed that covers the towns of Windsor, West Windsor, and Reading. The Black River watershed covers much of southern Windsor County, including the towns of Springfield, Baltimore, Weathersfield, Cavendish, Ludlow, and Plymouth and extends into sections of Reading and Mount Holly. Planning activities have begun in this watershed, which include a buffer and impervious surfaces assessment, mapping, outreach meetings, and an action plan for future basin planning. A two-year-long basin management planning effort is underway for State-designated Basin 11, which includes the West, Williams, and Saxtons Rivers. Public dialogue has begun concerning water quality and related watershed issues in towns within the watershed.