Date of Award
Program or Major
Doctor of Philosophy
J William Harris
The making of the Central Valley of Vermont created a sense of identity for the region. Strategically between two Native American confederations, the area was also enmeshed in European settlement to the north, south, east and west. At first conventional farming was the engine of growth in the Central Valley, but the Erie Canal and the rich soil from the Midwest undercut Rutlands agriculture. Rutland switched its economy to sheep. By the 1850s, that too had failed. With the infrastructure of railroads and technology, the rich mineral resources of the region could be exploited and organized on a national scale. The mineral resources gave the valley a competitive edge. Early entrepreneurs such as the Humphreys brothers and William F. Barnes, and the Clement family, developed the first stage of the marble industry, paving the way for others, principally Redfield Proctor. With the help of his political, economic, and business connections, Proctor turned the company into the Vermont Marble Company, the largest marble company in the world. Bitter rivalries between cliques such as the old guard Clements and the new guard, and more powerful, Proctors and confrontations with the rising political force of the workers and immigrants shaped the area. By the 1880s this rivalry led to the division of Rutland into four towns: Rutland, Rutland Town, West Rutland and Proctor. A party of Workingmen rose up with public and political voice to assert their rights. Leaders such as James Fay, Thomas Browne, and Jack Carder brought Labor's voice into a public dialogue. The elites fought back by establishing a Citizens' Party to blunt the challenge. In the 1930s a bitter strike divided the workers and management. By the 1970s the Vermont Marble Company had been bought by a Swiss firm. Marble had given the region its identity and a worldwide recognition. The city called itself the Marble City and the area is still known as the Marble Valley.
Austin, Michael Louis, "Carving out a sense of place: The making of the Marble Valley and the Marble City of Vermont" (2002). Doctoral Dissertations. 99.