Sugar Mountain Farm in 1939

1939 Arial Photo of Our Valley

Our farm was first settled in 1777. The house was initially a log cabin that was probably sited where it was due to the excellent spring just uphill that was exposed when the settlers split out granite for their foundation stones.

The fields were gradually cleared for livestock grazing, along with most of Vermont. In fact for a long time Vermont was almost all fields with just small amounts of trees. Even as late as the early 1900’s our land was still almost all field. Lloyd, the 96 year old gentleman we bought our land from had hayed it by hand as a young man. You can see his father’s farm where Lloyd was born in the upper left corner of the photo above.

Of note is that at the time of this photo there were no beaver ponds. Beavers had been over trapped and basically eliminated from New England. It is only in recent years that they have come back. Since I’ve been on our land, since the late 1980’s, we’ve had a healthy population of these industrious engineers whom I enjoy watching.

In the mid-1800’s there was a mini-iceage which caused three years of crop failure in Vermont and much of the world. People who couldn’t make it here in Vermont were tempted by the land opening up in the west. Many left. The village that was on our land was nearly emptied by this ‘Event’ as Vermont lost a lot of its population.

Our farm is in the lower right quadrant. By the time this photo was taken in 1939 much of our land had returned to forest. Now our land is now almost all grown up to forest other than the roughly 70 acres of pastures I have reclaimed over the past three decades.

Realize that photo was taken in 1939. Yes, you read that right. That’s a long time ago for arial photography. That’s pre-WWII. That photo is probably one of the earliest orthophotos at least here in Vermont and probably close to the earliest in the country, maybe the world. Orthophotos are a special type of arial photo that flatten the landscape optically.

In the late 1980’s I innovated using arial photography in forestry mapping. I was told by our county forester that when they received my forestry plan based on the backdrop of the orthophoto it created quite a stir at the agency. Apparently nobody had ever done that before. I just happened to be at the crucial moment in history when it became easily possible and as a magazine publisher I had a large tabloid size flatbed scanner, photoshop, the required computing power and knowledge to handle such things. To me it was obviously the way to do it. Now it is routine to use these photos in forestry and soon we’ll have drones. I can’t wait!

Outdoors: 52°F/18°F Partially Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 55°F/59°F

Daily Spark: Change is the only constant in life. -Heraclitus

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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