History of My Place

While I cannot pinpoint the history of my spot exactly, there is abundant documentation about the history of the land on which Centennial Woods is now located. In my spot in particular it easy to notice the sandy soils, especially around the stream. This is because the hill behind my spot is actually a large sandy deposit left by the retreating glaciers. The retreating glaciers left the sand as well as some of the noticeably larger rocks that are in my stream. Continuing on, around three to four thousand years ago there was Native American settlement. This was discovered in 1998 by UVM students who found evidence of Native American tool making such as stone flakes, stone tools themselves, and even a spear.  It is likely that there was Abenaki settlement in that particular area because it is located along Centennial Brook, which would have provided a water source. It is hard to find the deeds, but maps of land ownership show that the land was indeed owned by different men (naturally) by the late 1890s.

land survey of the City of Burlington
Map of the City of Burlington, included the land that is now Centennial Woods

Going forward, there is a UVM pamphlet that points out that the land near the stream on the trail, what they refer to as “the overlook” was owned by Fred Fiske, a former UVM student who used the land for agriculture. The abundance of white pine in the area, as well as some barbed wire found in various places around the woods, are good markers of how this land was probably previously cleared and then used for farming or pasture. There are also rumors that the Green Mountain Boys, a militia that was active in the area, used the land to train.

Coming closer into the future, the area used to be home to the South Burlington Kiwanis Ski Area. The ski area opened in 1962 according to “The History of South Burlington Vermont 1865-1965” but closed down for the 1967 season and never reopened again because of a fire lit by arsonists. The area was small, consisting of only a 500 foot rope tow, however it had the potential to have led to disturbances in my area of the woods.

Picture of the South Burlington Kiwanis Ski Area when it was in operation

The University of Vermont had been acquiring the parcels of land that now make up Centennial Woods from 1891-1965. In the late 1990s, in conjunction with the Vermont Land Trust, UVM made the land a protected natural area that is meant to be undeveloped in perpetuity.

modern day map of the Centennial Woods Natural Area