‘At this Place in History,’ we are at Rossignol Community Park in Williston with Steve Perkins, the Executive Director of Vermont Historical Society.
“I recently found out some really interesting information about this particular park. Why it’s built down in a hole, and how it relates to the city of Burlington,” said Perkins. “So its history goes way, way back. So let’s go back to Champlain Sea. Williston was at the edge of the sea and what do you find on the edge of the sea? Beaches, you find sand dunes, so there’s a lot of sand and gravel deposits in the town of Williston.”
“Knowing that, there’s a pretty big industry of digging sand out of the ground here. Now, Burlington was under the sea. It didn’t have a lot of sand deposits, but it needed sand gravel for road construction projects. So what did they do? They bought 50 acres for their own sandpit,” said Perkins. “And that’s what we’re looking at right now: a sandpit, created by the city of Burlington as they dug this material out of the ground to build their roads.”
They also decided that this area would be the municipal forest for the city of Burlington,” added Perkins. They planted trees that could both be used recreationally but also cut down as a cropped and sent to a lumber mill.”
“It’s a 20th-century story, and you have to think of when railroads were really being improved for automobiles, so the 1920s, 1930s. The property was purchased in 1933, and it was actively used as a sand and gravel pit, all the way up through the late 50s/early 60s when the usefulness of that started to decline,” said Perkins.
“So by the end of the 1960s, in fact, 1966, the city was looking to sell and so they sold it to the Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation, which then sold the property to Rossignol Ski Company, and they make great downhill skis and cross country skis, but Rossignol installed the park hence the name ‘Rossignol Community Park,” said Perkins.
“Ultimately, this whole area is now an industrial area of Williston. We’re standing right next to industrial Avenue and SD Ireland over here. So this idea of sand and gravel and concrete, things like that, still persist in this area.
You can really read a landscape and you know the something that I love to do in this program in spots you’ve never thought about. What’s that community park? Why is it in a hole? Why are all those trees planted in a line? That seems really weird? Well, now we know somebody planted them as a lumber crop for the city of Burlington, and this was a sandpit.
‘At This Place in History.’