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flag  History of Rockingham, Vermont, USA

Journey back in time to Rockingham, Vermont, USA

(Bellows Falls) (Saxton's River)

Visit Rockingham, Vermont, USA. Discover its history. Learn about the people who lived there through stories, old newspaper articles, pictures, postcards and ancestry.

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Rockingham, Vermont, USA - Oldest Church in Vermont, Rockingham, Vt. Built 1787

Rockingham is a picturesque town located in Windham County, Vermont. It's known for its historic village of Bellows Falls, which features charming brick buildings and a stunning waterfall on the Connecticut River. Visitors can explore the quaint downtown area, enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, or take a scenic train ride along the river.


Bellows Falls, village in Rockingham town (township), Windham county, southeastern Vermont, U.S., on the Connecticut River. It was settled about 1753 and named for Colonel Benjamin Bellows, an early property owner. britannica.com

Located along the Connecticut River, Bellows Falls is known for its picturesque downtown area, historic architecture, and the stunning Bellows Falls gorge.



There is MUCH more to discover about Rockingham, Vermont, USA. Read on!

Rockingham Nostalgia: Vintage Photos, Ads, and Postcards

Oldest Church in Vermont, Rockingham, Vt.
Built 1787
Rockingham, Vermont, USA

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Oldest Church in Vermont, Rockingham, Vt.
Built 1787
1890s
The Vermont Farm Machine Co.
Bellows Falls, Vt.
Rockingham, Vermont, USA

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1890s
The Vermont Farm Machine Co.
Bellows Falls, Vt.
Arch Bridge, Bellows Falls, Vt., Length 648 ft.
Rockingham, Vermont, USA

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Arch Bridge, Bellows Falls, Vt., Length 648 ft.
Main Street looking West, Bellows Falls, Vt.
Rockingham, Vermont, USA

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Main Street looking West, Bellows Falls, Vt.
Westminster High Bridge, Bellows Falls, Vermont, 1907
Rockingham, Vermont, USA

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Westminster High Bridge, Bellows Falls, Vermont, 1907
Main Street
Rockingham, Vermont, USA

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Main Street
Rockingham Hospital, Bellows Falls, Vt.
Rockingham, Vermont, USA

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Rockingham Hospital, Bellows Falls, Vt.
Main Street, 1915
Rockingham, Vermont, USA

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Main Street, 1915
Rockingham Memorial Hospital, Bellows Falls, Vt.
Rockingham, Vermont, USA

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Rockingham Memorial Hospital, Bellows Falls, Vt.
Vilas Bridge, Bellows Falls, Vt.
Rockingham, Vermont, USA

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Vilas Bridge, Bellows Falls, Vt.
High School Building, Bellows Falls, Vt., 1924
Rockingham, Vermont, USA

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High School Building, Bellows Falls, Vt., 1924
New Post Office
Rockingham, Vermont, USA

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New Post Office
Rockingham High School, Bellows Falls, Vermont
Rockingham, Vermont, USA

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Rockingham High School, Bellows Falls, Vermont
Down the Connecticut from Bellows Falls, Vermont
Rockingham, Vermont, USA

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Down the Connecticut from Bellows Falls, Vermont

Discover Rockingham: History, News, Travel, and Stories

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1839 - Rockingham
Rockingham, Vermont
Windham county. This town is beautifully situated on the west side of Connecticut river, and at the celebrated "Bellows Falls," noted under Walpole, N.H. The water power afforded by these falls, with that of Williams and Saxton's rivers, which pass through the town, are of vast extent; it cannot fail of becoming exceedingly useful and of rendering this town and vicinity the site of immense manufacturing operations.

This place lies on a navigable river, 65 miles above Northampton, and 85 above Springfield, Mass., 111 above Hartford, Ct., and 23 below Windsor, Vt. It is 85 miles S. from Montpelier, and 18 N.E. from Newfane. First settled in 1753. Population, 1830, 2,272.

The surface of the town is uneven; but the soil is generally strong, warm and productive. Its agricultural products are considerable: in 1837 it pastured 12,600 sheep.

The location of Rockingham renders it a mart of much interior trade, and has caused the erection of a number of pleasant... Read MORE...

1849 Rockingham
Windham Co. Connecticut River washes the eastern border of this township. William's River runs through the central part, and unites with the Connecticut about three miles north of Bellows Falls. Saxton's River runs through the south part, and falls into the Connecticut a mile south of Bellows Falls, in the north-east comer of Westminster. These streams afford a great number of valuable sites for
mills.

The surface of Rockingham is somewhat broken, but the soil is in general warm and productive.

Bellows Falls are in Connecticut River, near the south-east comer of this town. The breadth of the river above the falls is from sixteen to twenty-two rods. At the falls a large rock divides the stream into two channels, each about ninety feet wide. When the water is low, the eastern appears crossed by a bar of solid rock, and the whole river flows into the western channel, where it is contracted to the breadth of sixteen feet, and flows with astonishing rapidity. There are several... Read MORE...

1849 Bellows Falls
There are in Rockingham several pleasant villages. Bellows Falls Village, situated on the bank of the Connecticut at Bellows Falls, in the south-eastern part of the town, is the most important.

A gazetteer of Vermont, containing descriptions of all the counties, towns, and districts in the state; and of all its principal mountains, rivers, waterfalls, harbors, islands, and curious places. To which are added, statistical accounts of its agriculture, commerce and manufactures; with ... other useful information
by John Hayward
Boston - Tappan, Whittemore, and Mason
1849
1852 - Fire at Bellows Falls, Vermont.
SPRINGFIELD, Monday, Dec. 20. The Valley Hotel at Bellows Falls, Vermont was destroyed by fire early this morning. The inmates barely escaped with their lives.
The New York Times
New York, New York
December 21, 1852
1854 - Bellows Falls
Bellows Falls, a post-village of Wind ham county, Vermont, on the E. side of Con necticut river, 80 miles S. by W. from Mont- pelier. In the river, nearly opposite this place, are numerous falls, having a descent of 44 feet in the course of half a mile. Around these falls, a canal with nine locks has been cut through the solid rock. A bridge, erected in 1785, of above 350 feet in length, crosses the river at this place. The village is situated at the intersection of the railroads connecting Boston with Montreal, and New Haven with St. Johnsbury. It is remarkable for its beautiful scenery, and for containing a celebrated medicinal spring. There is a bank in the village.
A New and Complete Gazetteer of the United States: Giving a Full and Comprehensive Review of the Present Condition, Industry, and Resources of the American Confederacy ... Thomas Baldwin (of Philadelphia.) Joseph Thomas January 1, 1854 Philadelphia : Lippincott, Grambo & Company 1854.
1888 - AN EXPRESS TRAIN WRECKED. AND BOTH THE ENGINEER AND FIREMAN WERE KILLED.
BELLOWS FALLS, Vt., April 7. - The night express train on the Vermont Central Railroad which left Boston at 7 o'clock last night was wrecked about 10:40 o'clock by a washout near Rockingham, five miles north of this place. The engineer, Moses Pratt, of Rutland, and the fireman, John Pratt, of Rutland, were instantly killed, and several persons injured. The train reached this station at 10"30 o'clock. At this point it was taken in charge by Conductor Whitney. The train consisted of the engine and tender, one baggage and express car, a first-class passenger coach and a Wagner car with passengers for Ottawa. About a quarter of a mile north of Rockingham there is a long embankment about 100 feet high. Just as the train started over this embankment the left side of the single track gave way and the engine left the roadway and toppled down the embankment nearly into the Williams River, followed by the baggage car, which contained 12 passengers, followed suit and landed on end half way down... Read MORE...

1889 - PASSENGERS HAD A NARROW ESCAPE
BELLOWS FALLS, Vt., March 20. - The Montreal and Boston night express over the Central Vermont Railway, Rutland Division, which reaches Boston at 5:15 A. M., met with a serious accident this morning about one mile north of Rockingham station and six miles north of here. The scene of the disaster was where the road winds along the east bank of Williams River, with an embankment on the right side 30 feet steep into the river, and on the left side a high mountain of rocks.

The engine, upon rounding a curve while running at a fair rate of speed, struck a huge boulder which had rolled from above, throwing the train, consisting of baggage car, passenger, and Wagner sleeping coach, entirely from the track, but fortunately they went off on the side away from the embankment. All escaped, some, however, with more or less serious injuries.
The New York Times
New York, New York
March 21, 1889
1895 - Rockingham
Rockingham, a post-hamlet and township of Wind ham co., Vt., on Williams River, and on the Central Vermont Railroad, 5 miles N. of Bellows Falls. It is bounded on the E. by the Connecticut River. It contains a bank, an academy, a newspaper office, 3 paper-mills, and 2 woollen-mills. Pop. of the township, including Bellows Falls, 3797. It also contains a village named Saxton's River.
Lippincott's Gazetteer of the World: A Complete Pronouncing Gazetteer Or Geographical Dictionary of the World Containing Notices of Over One Hundred and Twenty-five Thousand Places ... Joseph Thomas January 1, 1895 J.B. Lippincott
1895 - Flood
...The most damage in Vermont was done at Bellows Falls, where the Connecticut river is very narrow. An old railroad bridge was swept away, and there has been great damage to the Boston and Maine railroad tunnel, being flooded and rendered impassable. The mills are all closed...
Middletown Daily Argus
Middletown, New York
April 16, 1895
1901 - ON THE VERY EDGE Rutland Shifter Just Escaped a Bad Fall JUMPED TRACK AT BELLOWS FALLS Crew All Uninjured but Death Was but a Few Feet Distant- An Elopement at Rutland.
(Special to The Messenger.)

Bellows Falls, June 3. - A shifting engine, Bristol No. 1, of the Rutland railroad, when going around the curve near the toll bridge across the falls of the Connecticut river, struck a broken rail, and went off the track and just escaped going off the steep embankment on to the rocks in the river below.

Brakeman John Keefe and Yardmaster W. W. Dodge jumped, but the engineer, David Keefe and the fireman, George Lavallee, hadn't time. None of the men were injured, but they had a narrow escape from death.
St Albans Daily Messenger
St Albans, Vermont
June 3, 1901
1906
Rockingham, a post-village and township (town) of Windham co., Vt., on the Williams River and on the Rutland R., 5 miles N. of Bellows Falls. Pop. of the town (including Bellows Falls) in 1900, 5809.
Lippincott's New Gazetteer: A Complete Pronouncing Gazetteer Or Geographical Dictionary of the World, Containing the Most Recent and Authentic Information Respecting the Countries, Cities, Towns ... in Every Portion of the Globe Publisher J.B. Lippincott Company, 1906
1910 - FIRE IN VERMONT ACADEMY Farnsworth Hall Totally Destroyed at Loss of $30,000, While Students Were Home for Christmas Vacation.
Farnsworth hall, one of the main buildings of Vermont academy grounds and aroused Principal Lawson and others. The fire stated from some unknown cause, and it spread rapidly with the help of a strong wind, so the the entire structure was consumed within an hour. No one had been in the building since early in the day, as the students and teachers left Wednesday for their Christmas vacation. All their efforts were burned, with the exception of a few trunks and a little furniture. It is thought that the fire started in the front of the building on the first floor.

A large number of townspeople answered the alarm, but all were helpless. There was no water, because of the present shortage of water, and had there been it were useless to try to save the building itself. All attention was turned to Fuller hall, and every attempt made to insure its safety. A large number of people were set to work carrying the records of the academy and the valuable papers from the school offices to a place ... Read MORE...

1912 - BELLOWS FALLS HAS BIG FIRE. HOTEL AND TWO BIG BLOCKS DESTROYED AT LOSS OF $200,000.
Bellows Falls, Vt., March 26. - The three principal business structures here, the Union and Arms blocks and the Hotel Windham were destroyed by fire, early today, at a loss of $200,000. For hours it was feared the whole business section of the city would be wiped out, but the flames were contained to two blocks and the hotel.

Thirty guests were asleep in the hotel when the fire started in the Union block, but hotel employes aroused the sleepers in time to rise and escape. One aged man was carried out after the hotel was afire.
All the burned buildings were of brick, the Arms and Union three stories, and the hotel four. The hotel loss is $50,000 and the other losses are $75,000 each.

The fire, it is thought was caused by a carelessly thrown cigarette butt. When the firemen arrived the Union block was a mass of flames and attention was directed in saving nearby property. North Walpole rendered assistance. The sky was lighted for miles around.
Fitchburg Daily Sentinel
Fitchburg, Massachusetts
March 26, 1912
1920 - SIX DEAD IN RUTLAND WRECK IN VERMONT Boston-Montreal Express and Freight Train Crash Head-On - Several Passengers Injured.
BELLOWS FALLS, Vt., March 14. - Five men were killed, one died later, four were severely injured and several suffered lesser injuries in a head-on collision late today between the Boston and Montreal Express, northbound, and a freight on the Rutland Railroad four miles north of here.

F. S. Lent of Rockingham, a passenger, who was taken to a hospital, died early tonight.

The other dead were the two engineers, one fireman and two brakemen.

For of the bodies were still under the wreckage tonight. The dead engineers were Thomas Sullivan of Bellows Falls, in charge of the passenger train, and George Cady of Rutland, in charge of the freight.

Two of the men reported injured were A. G. Simonds of Portland, Me., and Enoch Dulosh of Ludlow. Their condition was said to be serious.

A porter was taken to the hospital but was found to be suffering only from cuts and abrasions and was permitted to leave.

The engines were badly smashed and the wreckage has blocked both... Read MORE...

2023 - Here's a list of places to go and things to do in and around Rockingham:
Visit the Vermont Country Store:

Explore this iconic store that has been operating since 1946. It offers a nostalgic shopping experience with a wide range of Vermont-made products, old-fashioned toys, and delicious treats.

Saxtons River Distillery:

Take a tour of the Saxtons River Distillery and learn about the art of crafting small-batch spirits. Don't forget to sample their unique Vermont maple liqueur.

Bellows Falls Opera House:

Check the schedule for events at the Bellows Falls Opera House. This historic venue hosts concerts, theater productions, and community events.

Great River Outfitters:

If you're an outdoor enthusiast, consider a kayaking or tubing adventure with Great River Outfitters. They offer rentals and guided trips along the Connecticut River.

Explore Main Street:

Stroll along Main Street in Bellows Falls to discover charming shops, art galleries, and cozy cafes. The historic architecture adds to the town's character.

Bartonsville Covered... Read MORE...

Discover MY Roots: Rockingham Ancestry

Ancestors Who Were Born or Died in Rockingham, Vermont, USA

We currently have information about 27 ancestors who were born or died in Rockingham.

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Ancestors Who Were Married in Rockingham, Vermont, USA

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Genealogy Resources for Rockingham

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Updated: 11/30/2023 2:00:57 PM