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Marker to memorialize Vermont's Gold Rush

Vermont's Windsor County gold field was forgotten-until a brief, final spurt in the 1880s.

The town of Five Corners was abandoned in the 1860s. All that remained were cellar holes, stone sluice walls, and rare privy artifacts.

There are no markers for the individual gold mines, according to John P. Dumville, Historic Sites Operations chief for the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation. He said that the old mines are located on private land and no one-at least until later this year-had ever requested a marker or gotten landowner permission to erect a marker. "It is an interesting story," Dumville said.

"My great grandfather, Ira Sumner, was a gold mine worker in Windsor County," cave and mine explorer Rick Pingree told the Rutland Tribune in a 2005 news story. "Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of records from the time."

The state's largest gold-mine operation was the Rooks Mine in Camp Plymouth State Park. It is the only gold mine that is situated, in part, on state-owned land. Vermont's new gold rush historical marker will be situated near the remains of the Rooks Mine.

All other gold mines and test adits are on private property-they are dangerous and off limits to individuals without the owner's permission.

"In 1880, a group of miners returned to the Plymouth Five Corners area and traced placer gold in Buffalo Creek to its source in a quartz vein high on the slope above the creek," according to Pingree. "Two years later, the Rooks Mine was in operation."

Pingree has explored deep inside the abandoned shafts of the Rooks Mine (later known as the Fox Mine); while the mine is dangerous for amateur cavers to enter, even Pingree got spooked inside the mine a few years ago. A companion encountered unstable ground inside the mine's vertical shaft. They quickly abandoned further exploration. Abandoned mines are more dangerous than many caves, according to Pingree.

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