Stereo image of 1860 gold miners working at dam aon Smith’s Claim, at Gold Miner’s Glen, in Plymouth, Vt. This rare photo was taken by F.B. Gage and published by E. Anthony, New York, N.Y. It was auctioned to a collector in 2008, by Holabird-Kagin Auctioneers, for $1,200.
Rutland Forget about copper. At today’s gold prices—hovering between $1,600 and $1,700 an ounce—picking up even a little gold off the ground is found money. As gold prices rise, more and more local residents, and out-of-staters, are hitting them thar' Vermont hills in search of gold. Vermont has gold—in the ground and in some of its streams—but it takes a little training, work, and patience to get it out and into your pocket.
The first-phase of Vermont’s little known Gold Rush was centered around Plymouth Five Corners and lasted four years. In surrounding Windsor County, Vermont gold seekers took to hills and streams between the 1850s and 1880s in search of local wealth.
In 1855, Matthew Kennedy, a California ‘49er, returned home to Vermont and found gold flakes and a small nugget in Reading Pound Brook. Within a few months, Reading Pound, as well as Broad and Buffalo brooks, were swarming with get-rich-quick panners looking for gold.
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.
Vermont‘s Windsor County gold field was forgotten—until a brief, final spurt in the 1880s.
The town of Five Corners was abandoned by the 1860s. All that remained were cellar holes, stone sluice walls, and rare privy artifacts.
For professional outdoor guide and veteran caver Rick Pingree of Rutland, the gold rush-era history of Vermont is a treasure that deserves better; the period is sadly ignored by most historians perhaps due to its lack of many written and photographic records.
One group has a different view of the gold rush era, the Rutland Rock and Mineral Club.
In 2009, club members were instrumental in getting the state to pay for an historic roadside marker at Camp Plymouth State Park which now stands as an official commemoration of Vermont's forgotten gold-rush era.