New Haven, Vermont has been a crossroads for more than two centuries. The Rutland & Burlington Railroad’s 1849 arrival signaled a new era, as lengthy steam-powered trains dotted the Addison County landscape. For another four decades, Bristol’s 1,800 inhabitants observed with interest and envy as freight and passenger trains polished the R&B mainline, six miles away.
The Bristol House was sending two stages a day, for the roundtrip to the R&B’s New Haven train station. A third stagecoach owned by the competing Commercial House, stirred up the dust with its own daily run. The disadvantages of being an “off line” community were many. Mr. Jesse J. Ridley and Myron Wilson, founders of the Bristol Herald, were determined to put their village on the rail map. A feasibility discussion was held in the basement of Holley Hall, during February, 1890. Rutland native and entrepreneur Percival Clement’s resources eventually transformed the Bristol Railroad from blueprint to three-dimensional reality.
For 38 years, from 1892 to 1930, the six-mile Bristol Railroad was among the busiest lumber product haulers in the United States. Bristol Manufacturing Company was shipping boxcar loads of locally made caskets from their plant along the New Haven River, to the Bristol village train station and all points of the compass via the connecting Rutland Railroad at New Haven Junction. The rails also opened up vast travel opportunities for every occasion— from church-sponsored card games in New Haven to bright lights, big city entertainment. All aboard for a memorable journey where all the fun is getting there! Author and filmmaker James R. “Jim” Jones proudly presents this meticulously researched, 200-page chronicle on the life and times of rural Vermont from the 1850s to now.