On December 2nd, Bradley Bender joined us to give us some history of Danby and of Silas Griffith in particular. Among other things Griffith was the first millionaire in Vermont and a classic lumber baron. He owned 50,000 acres of local land, including all of Mt Tabor, and had two “lumber camps” complete with stores and schools.
One was at South End, along with a trout hatchery (supplying the Waldorf Astoria in NYC), and was adjacent to the railroad. The other camp was called Griffith or Old Job and was up the mountain on Big Branch. That is where we set out for, driving in on the Forest Service road. However the road was icy and while my 4×4 truck was fine, Juanita’s car was having difficulties. So we headed back down the mountain to the old Wood Road access which the forest service had re-cleared to bring in heavy equipment when they rebuilt an Appalachian Trail bridge after Irene destroyed it.
We had a great hike in but couldn’t cross the Big Branch to get to Old Job. The bridge was blocked by a tributary as well, so we noted the huge sawdust pile and the sawmill foundation from a distance, then hiked back out.
Then down to South End where we saw the remaining signs of the fish hatchery, the rail spur, and vanished buildings. These tastes of historical exploration whetted our appetite to return in the spring when we can hike in on the route Bradley had originally planned out. Thanks to Brad for his time and expertise.