Jacksonville, once New Boston and then Martin’s Mills took its name from President Andrew Jackson. Town Hill, mid-way between the Villages of Jacksonville and Whitingham was the site of the largest early settlement, with churches, stores, post office and an academy.
Farming has been the primary occupation since the beginning, but lime burning, lumbering, chair making, trading, carding wool, tanning and the manufacture of scythe snaths (among other industry) have also figured in the building of the Town.
The first church building was raised on Town Hill in 1799 and was used by all denominations. In 1801, famed Mormon, Brigham Young was born here. In 1925 the Mormons erected a marker noting the birthplace of their leader.
The advent of hydro-electric power was significant in changing the topography of Whitingham. In the early 1900’s, it brought the formation of Lake Whitingham causing the submersion of old landmarks and relocation of the railroad.
Some names of early settlers include: Fitch, Smedley, Baldwin, Myers, Aiton, Hitchcock, Hamilton, Bratten, Nelson, Lamphear, Hall, Riddle, Conant, Goodnow, Peebles, Brown, Foster, Childs, Stone, Star, Green, Waste, Stickney, Brigham, Chase, Preston, Tainter, Roberts, Carley and Parker. Settlers were largely from Massachusetts, but also included a few families from New Hampshire and neighboring Vermont towns.
Whitingham is located in the southwest corner of Windham County on the Massachusetts State line. The Deerfield River and Green Mountains form a natural western Town boundary. Current population hovers between 1300 and 1800 plus or minus full time and seasonal residents.
Brigham Young Memorial/Town Hill Common
Historians have written Brigham Young was born in Whitingham in 1801. He is known for leading 70,000 Mormon pioneers across the country, founding Salt Lake City in 1847. A memorial white granite monument to Brigham Young stands on Town Hill Common, the original site of Whitingham Village. It is a place of scenic beauty, offering picnic tables, grilles, and a playground inviting one to stop to picnic and rest in nature.
Lake Whitingham (also known as Harriman Reservoir) is the largest lake situated entirely within the boundaries of the State of Vermont. The lake boasts the largest earthen dam at 200’ in height and 1200’ across with a base width of 1/4 mile. Adjacent to the dam is the “glory hole” - a very large spillway that essentially looks like an enormous cement morning glory. The lake is open in the warm weather for boating, fishing, swimming and picnicking, with access gained at various locations. In the winter, there is cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and ice fishing. Maintained by the power company, the Lake Whitingham recreational area is without charge for use. .
Lake Sadawga - south of Lake Whitingham - offers great canoeing and fishing. It provides a very rare feature in its floating island, which skims along on the surface of the pond, one of two floating bogs in Vermont. In recent years, a really fun ice-fishing derby has been organized by the Fire Department at Sadawga, usually taking place in January. (See web calendar listing for additional information as it becomes available.)
The Green Mountain Giant, a Glacial Erratic sits in the Western part of Town on private land. The boulder measures 40’ across and 125’ in circumference. It is estimated to weigh 3400 tons.
There are many cemeteries scattered throughout the Town, for those that find them picturesque or enjoy gleaning bits of history from them.
In the summer, this area offers excellent biking, hiking, kayaking, canoeing, motorcycling, sailing, and scenic touring by automobile. Winter sports include cross-country and downhill skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice-skating and ice fishing. There are historic signs at Town Hill, Green Mountain Hall and the Municipal Center, creating a lovely bike or walking loop, if you choose.
Routes 8A and 100 are known for their scenic beauty. Route 100 is a North-South By-Way that stretches the length of Vermont offering exceptional scenery. It is currently being given consideration for the designation of “Scenic Corridor” by the State. Route 8A winds South from its Junction with 112 and has been featured several times on PBS. It is a road that offers the distinct feeling of trekking backwards in time.
The Catamount Trail is a 300-mile, winter-use-only trail open to the public for skiing and snowshoeing. Considered easy, the Whitingham section of the trail follows alongside the Deerfield River and the Harriman Reservoir. More information on this is available at www.catamounttrail.org.
There are two Post Offices in town - one in the Village of Jacksonville (across from the Municipal Center building) and one in the Village of Whitingham, inside that village’s General Store.
Whitingham and Jacksonville are filled with a rich variety of services, crafters and other resources. There are farms, maple syrup and other maple products, catering, snowplowing, lawn care, plant purveyors, farmers who raise beef, fowl, and pork in a health-conscious fashion, gardeners and wood cutters and processors, ceramic and fine artists, arborists, soy-foam insulators, a winery shop, a Christmas Tree farm, two general stores, several bed and breakfasts, a retreat center, and various service-oriented businesses, to name a few.
A number of annual events are not to be missed and include the Ice Fishing Derby in January, Maple Festival at the end of March, Open Studio weekends, Hungry Lion Bike Tour in September, and various weekend events throughout the foliage and holiday seasons. A spectacular and growing holiday tradition includes Bright Lights Festival, which starts in December and runs through February. Events are scheduled throughout the period in the Town of Whitingham as well as Towns nearby.
As you visit, you will find local business personnel can be wonderful sources of information. Additional information about Whitingham businesses and available links can be found in the business listings section of the Town’s web pages.