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Marker to memorialize Vermont's Gold Rush

The heyday of Vermont's gold rush may have been a small dab of paint on the state's 218-year-old historic canvas, but the crumbling remains of nearly a dozen mines and test shafts pepper the landscape in the Bridgewater-Plymouth area of Windsor County.

Windsor County was the prime focus of Vermont's 1850s-1880s gold rush era.

Now the first state historical marker to recognize the Vermont Gold Rush will be dedicated at Camp Plymouth State Park on Scout Camp Road in Ludlow. Members of the Rutland Rock and Mineral Club were instrumental in urging the state to erect the cast-iron marker.

The marker will be erected near the footbridge which leads back to the site of one of the abandoned gold mines later this year. The club will hold gold-panning demonstrations on the day of the dedication, which has not been determined yet.

"While 19th century gold rushes in California and Colorado get all the attention, there was a little bit of the Wild West in Vermont between 1855 and 1888," said Marie Fitzgerald, president of the Rutland club.

Fitzgerald said several club members pan for gold in Vermont streams. One member found a small nugget of some value near Ludlow last year. In Rutland County, she said, some gold has been found in the sands and gravel of the Cold River which races through the rugged Clarendon Gorge.

In 1855, a California gold miner returning home to Vermont found gold flakes and a small nugget in Reading Pound Brook. Within a few months, Reading Pound, Broad and Buffalo brooks were swarming with panners looking for gold.

The first-phase of Vermont's Gold Rush was centered around Plymouth Five Corners and lasted four years.

In true frontier-style, hotels and saloons sprung up in Five Corners to service miners, merchants and hangers on. However, by 1861-when civil strife broke out between the North and South-young Vermonters headed off for battlefields instead of the Windsor gold fields.

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