Highway History: How the construction of the interstate highway changed Vermont

Within the Landscape Change Program is a subset of over 30,000 photographs taken before, during, and after interstate construction in Vermont (like the one shown below). These images weave a compelling narrative of landscape change brought about by interstate construction. The images show the scale of physical landscape change, the excitement of opening an exit, and the devastation that can come with losing one’s home to make way for the highway.

As part of our outreach efforts, we have crafted the interstate photos into 20 stand-alone informative banner that will appeal to a diverse audience by including facts, quotes, and waving a narrative within each. The banners will be available to exhibit across Vermont this summer (2013). If you’d like to see the banners at a library, museum, rest area, or anywhere else near you, please contact us by emailing avang@uvm.edu.


Summer Comes to a Close

This summer I heard stories about family farms being split and houses being lost to make way for the Interstate, but I also heard about Vermonter’s love of this state and their pride in the construction and quality of the Vermont Interstate System. Many people we spoke to fondly reminisced about the days pre-interstate, while others spoke of the freedom of the open road.

While the stories we have heard and recorded this summer have been fascinating, our fieldwork has also resulted in 548 rephotographs and 74 stand alone images of Vermont, all of which were added to the Landscape Change Database. During our travels, we also gave 6 presentations, and formally interviewed over 15 Vermont residents.

We are still gathering data and opinions, so if you would like to contribute to this project please contact me at avang@uvm.edu, or fill out our Interstate Survey.


Williston: A Snap-Shot of Magnitude

One of the facets of the Landscape Change Program has been a focus on the Interstate and how its construction has affected Vermont. This photograph shows Hinesburg Road in Williston going over I-89 in 1962 during construction as well as the same stretch 50 years later. For more information or to download these photos please click on the photograph.

The overwhelming presence of trucks and machinery parked near the overpass in 1962 gives the observer an idea of the large amount of resources that must have gone into the construction of even a small portion of the interstate. After seeing many of these images of interstate construction sometimes when I hop onto I-89 or I-91 I imagine a ghostly river of trucks, cranes, machinery and workers marching forward inch by inch, paving the way for a new era in Vermont transportation.