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Hunter: What Irene Changed

12/05/11 5:55PM By Edith Hunter
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(Host) The recent completion of repairs to Route 106 in Weathersfield, reminded commentator Edith Hunter of what was changed by Tropical Storm Irene - and what was not - in just one small corner of Vermont.

(Hunter) When tropical storm Irene hit the north east corner of Weathersfield, the swollen Black River raced in from Cavendish. It carved out an enormous chasm on Route 106 just south of Downer's Four Corners.
 
East of Downer's, in the hamlet of Amsden, Branch Brook came roaring in from Felchville, the major settlement in Reading just to the north. There, two brooks merge with Branch Brook. amassing a powerful body of water.
 
It was these brooks, according to a letter in the archives of the Weathersfield Historical Society, that wiped out every bridge in Felchville in the freshet of 1869.
 
The settlement of Amsden was founded by Charles Amsden as he is built his fortune on limestone. Arriving in town in 1849, young Amsden worked to develop the lime business with Joseph Craigue who already had a small lime kiln there. Charles Amsden soon married Craigue's daughter. As the business grew, he built two huge kilns, the bases of which may still be seen in Amsden Hollow.
 
This year, on August 28th , when the raging waters of Branch Brook turned down Amsden School Road, they leaped their banks and flooded across the road. Part of the route of the historic Crown Point Road in Weathersfield parallels Amsden School Road. The Eleven Mile Marker (11 miles from the beginning of the road in Charlestown) sits at the entrance to a driveway. The Marker was flooded, but did not move.
 
The water rushed ahead flooding two private homes forcing the residents to evacuate. The second home had once been the old Amsden District #8 schoolhouse, gift of Charles Amsden in 1884. It served as a school until 1965.
 
Amsden School Road ends at Route 131. The flood waters raced across it and almost undermined the large building that Charles Amsden built to house his store, the post office, the stage coach stop, and his upstairs residence. This building, which has been deteriorating, may be a total loss.
 
Rushing down into the hollow, flooding the lower levels of the two old kilns, the water then surged down Branch Brook Road. It severely damaged the road as well as the original Craigue limekiln which probably predates 1850.
 
And finally, when the raging waters reached the North Springfield Flood Control area, they passed over the Crown Point Road 10 Mile Marker. It is on the National Register of Historic Sites. This old marker also stood its ground.
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