This Place in History: Charlotte Whale

Vermont History

On This Place in History with the Vermont Historical Society takes us the a railroad crossing in Charlotte, site of an incredible discovery.

Executive director Steve Perkins explains how in 1849, workers building a railroad found a skeleton. The workers thought it was a horse.

“Luckily a local resident saw it and said, I don’t think that’s a horse. Why don’t you guys hold on?” said Perkins. “And they called up the state naturalist or geologist. His name was Zadock Thompson. He came down. They collected the bones and sure enough it was the bones of a whale. A white whale.”

The bones are currently on display at the Perkins Museum of Geology in the geology department at UVM. (No relation to Steve Perkins).

So, how did a whale get to Vermont?

“11,000 years ago, we were under water.” explained Perkins. “So, this was a sea. A salt water sea. So, if you go back even further, say 13,000 years ago, we would’ve been under a mile of ice. As that glacier went back up towards the St. Lawrence Seaway, the Atlantic came in and we were under water.”

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