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Orleans County, Vermont
Map of Vermont highlighting Orleans County
Location in the state of Vermont
Map of USA VT
Vermont's location in the U.S.
Founded 1792
Shire Town Newport
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

721 sq mi (1,867 km²)
698 sq mi (1,808 km²)
23 sq mi (60 km²), 3.25%
 - (2000)
 - Density

39/sq mi (15/km²)

Orleans County is one of the four northernmost counties in the U.S. state of Vermont. It borders Canada. As of 2000, the population was 26,277. Its county seat is Newport6. As in the rest of New England, few governmental powers have been granted to the county. The county is an expedient way of grouping and distributing state-controlled governmental services.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,868 km² (721 sq mi). It is the fifth largest county in Vermont. It is larger than the nation of Guadeloupe and smaller than the country of Mauritius.[1]

There are 37.7 persons per square mile. 1,807 km² (698 sq mi) of it is land and 61 km² (23 sq mi) of it (3.25%) is water.

The county lies between the eastern and western ranges of the Green Mountains.

It has the largest area of the three counties comprising the Northeast Kingdom.

The highest point in the county is Jay Peak in the town of Jay, at 3858 feet.

The county is drained by four river systems: the Barton, Black, Clyde and Missisquoi. The first three run north.[2] The last meanders west through Canada and the U.S.

In fact the county is unique in eastern Vermont for mostly draining north as a part of the St. Lawrence River Basin. All Vermont counties directly to the south (and east of the Green Mountains) drain into the Connecticut River, as does much of Essex county, to the east.

The Barton River drains Crystal Lake, runs north through Barton, Brownington, Coventry and drains through Newport into Lake Memphremagog.

The Black is about 30 miles in length. It rises in some ponds in Craftsbury, and passes through Albany, Irasburg, and Coventry. It reaches Lake Memphremagog at Salem.

The Clyde River has four hydroelectric dams before reaching Lake Memphremagog.

The county contains more ponds than any other in the State.[3]

The county contains three state forests: Hazen's Notch, Jay, and Willoughby.

Adjacent counties Edit


The Assistant, or "Side," Judges, Superior Court, approve the budget for county expenses.

  • Assistant Judge (elected) - Robert Goodby
  • Assistant Judge (elected) - Benjamin M. Batchelder
  • Superior Court presiding judge (appointed) - Robert Bent
  • Court clerk - Laura Dolgin

Annette Pike, Deputy Court Clerk

The budget for 2006 was $428,612.51. Town taxes accounted for over 65% of this money. Almost 32% of the money was spent on courthouse personnel. Over 22% of the money was spent on the Sheriff Department's expenses.[4]

  • Sheriff (elected) - Lance A. Bowen
  • County Clerk - Constance Daigle
  • Probate Judge (elected) - John P. Monette
  • Road commissioners (appointed for one-year terms by the Superior Court)[5] Citizens may appeal to this commission when they believe that a town has failed to properly maintain a road or a bridge.
    • Shawn Austin
    • Thomas Berrier
    • Dale Carpenter, Jr.


The Essex-Orleans District includes all of Essex County, all of Orleans County, the Franklin County towns of Montgomery and Richford, and the Lamoille County towns of Eden and Wolcott. Senators are Vincent Illuzzi, Republican and Robert A. Starr, Democrat.


The county shares the same pre-Columbian history with the Northeast Kingdom.

Rogers' Rangers were forced to retreat through the county following their attack on Saint-Francis, Quebec in 1759. To confound their avenging pursuers, they split up on the east shore of Lake Memphremagog. One group followed the Clyde River. Another followed the Barton River south to the falls at the outlet of Crystal Lake where they were able to catch fish. From there, they continued south over the summit into the Passumpsic River Valley.[6]

In 1779 or 1780, General Moses Hazen constructed the Bayley-Hazen Military Road from Newbury, Vermont through Hardwick, Greensboro, Craftsbury, and Albany to Hazen's Notch in northern Vermont. This purpose of this road was to invade Canada. It was never used for that purpose, but was instrumental in the settlement of this area.[7] However, it was five or more years before the wilderness was inhabited by other than a few Abenaki Indians, and that during the summer.

Vermont was divided into two counties in March, 1778. In 1781 the legislature divided the northernmost county, Cumberland, into three counties: Windham and Windsor, located about where they are now. The northern remainder was called Orange county. This latter tract nearly corresponded with the old New York county of Gloucester, organized by that province March 16,1770, with Newbury as the shire town.[8]

The state granted a town to Ebenezer Crafts, and sixty-three associates, on November 6,1780. The town name was changed to Craftsbury, in honor of Ebenezer Crafts on October 27, 1790. Crafts was the first settler in the county.[8]

From 1791 to 1793 Timothy Hinman built what is now called the "Hinman Settler Road" linking Greensboro north to Derby and Canada.[9]

On November 5, 1792, the legislature divided Chittenden and Orange counties into six separate counties, as follows: Chittenden, Orange, Franklin, Caledonia, Essex, and Orleans.[8]

Orleans lost territory when the new Jefferson county[10]was created in 1797.[8]

In 1810 Runaway Pond suddenly flooded the Barton River Valley with millions of gallons water in the greatest natural catastrophe in Orleans County post-Columbian history. Incredibly, no lives were lost.

When Lamoille county was formed in October 1835, Orleans lost the towns of Eden, Hyde Park, Morristown, and Wolcott.[8]

In 1858, Barton (and Orleans County) obtained a triangular piece of land from Sheffield (and Caledonia County) which included all of May Pond, the entire area south of Crystal Lake, and the village of South Barton.[11]

French immigration into the county started before the Civil War.[12] It continued afterwards. Like the rest of the state, Orleans County sent up to one-quarter of it's eligible men to the Civil War. Ten percent of these died. Others came back too maimed to continue working their farms, which most volunteers had left.[13] The sudden offering of many farms for sale in the mid-1860s resulted in a precipitous drop in farm prices. Nearby French-Canadians took advantage of this.[14] As a result of this and loss of native farm labor to other states, Vermont, particularly the northern part, saw many migrants then and through the turn of the twentieth century.

After increasing in population since its founding, the county began losing population starting in 1900. It reached a twentieth century low in population in 1960 at 20,143. The population has risen ever since.

In 1903, a state law allowed each town to decide whether to permit the sale of liquor within their boundaries. By 1905, no town in the county allowed the sale of alcoholic beverages. The change was not that dramatic since state law had theoretically forbidden alcohol prior to 1903, but this law was unevenly enforced.[11]

In 1967 researcher and scientist Gerald Bull constructed a laboratory for hisSpace Research Corporation in Highwater, just north of the county's Canadian border. The property overlapped into the county in North Troy. His intent was to fire research packages into orbit using heavy artillery.

In 2004, the final concert of the band Phish was held in Coventry on August 14-15. The concert was the single largest gathering of people in the town's history. With 70,000 tickets sold, Coventry's augmented population was the largest in the state's history.

The county has seen much history as evidenced by its twenty-three places on the National Registry of Historic Places.


See Historical U.S. Census Totals for Orleans County


Of the four Vermont counties bordering Canada, Orleans County is the largest. That said, all four counties have the lowest population in Vermont.

As of the census² of 2000

  • People - 26,277
  • Households - 10,446
  • Families - 7,155
  • Population density - 15/km² (38/sq mi)
  • Housing units - 14,673
  • Density of housing units - 8/km² (21/sq mi)

The racial makeup of the county

94.5% were born in the United States. 90.58% spoke English at home, while 7.72% spoke French.[1]

Population Distribution by AgeEdit

In the county, the population was distributed by age as follows:

  • Under the age of 18 (18 year spread) - 25.10%
  • From 18 to 24 (7 year spread) - 7.10%
  • From 25 to 44 (20 year spread) - 26.80%
  • From 45 to 64 (20 year spread) - 25.90%
  • 65 years of age or older - 15.00%

The median age was 39 years.

For every 100 females there were 98.60 males.

For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.10 males.


  • French/French Canadian - 30%[15]
  • English - 17%
  • Irish - 11%
  • German - 5%
  • Scottish - 4%
  • Italian - 3%
  • Scots-Irish - 2%
  • Polish - 2%
  • Canadian - 2%
  • American Indian - 2%
  • Swedish - 1%
  • Dutch - 1%
  • Welsh - 1%
  • Russian - 1%


Orleans County has the fifth lowest average household spending in the country.[16]

Households and HousingEdit

  • Households - 10,446
  • Children under the age of 18 living in household - 32.10%
  • married couples living together - 54.40%
  • Female householder with no husband present - 9.60%
  • Non-families - 31.50%
  • Individuals - 25.20%
  • Someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older - 10.90%
  • Average household size - 2.45
  • Average family size - 2.91
  • Owned their own homes - 74.1%
  • Lived in multi-unit dwellings - 14.9%
  • Average value of owner occupied homes - $78,800.

Orleans County has the least expensive rental housing in Vermont.[17]

Personal IncomeEdit

Median IncomesEdit

  • Family = $36,630
  • Household = $31,084
  • Males = $27,964
  • Females = $20,779

Poverty StatisticsEdit

The following were below the poverty line

  • Under age 18 = 17.90%
  • Population = 14.10%
  • Age 65 or over = 10.90%
  • Families = 10.60%

The poverty rate for Orleans County was highest in Vermont for 2003.[18] Median wages were the second lowest in the state.[19]

See also Vermont locations by per capita income


In January 2007, the unemployment rate was 7.6% seasonally uncorrected, the highest in the state, which averaged 4.7%.[20]

Business and IndustryEdit

There were 838 Private non-farm establishments, employing 7,392 people. In 2002, there was $238 million Manufacturer's Shipments. That year, the county saw $240 million in retail sales. Retail sales per capita was $9,000. 24% of firms were owned by women.

In 2003, there were 194 dairy farms in the county.[21] This is the third largest number in the state. In March 2007, the number of dairy farms had declined to 155. That month they produced 29,585,000 pounds of milk.[22]

For forest products, from 1988 to 2004, Orleans County showed the greatest employment increase in the state.[23]


There are five pharmacies in the county, three are regional chains. When the Rite Aid drugstores buys the Brooks pharmacies in 2007, this would have reduced competition by one in the area. The Vermont Attorney General intervened and one of the two drugstores will be sold to a competitor.[24]

There are four national chain fast food restaurants in the county, one in Orleans, one in Derby and two in the city of Newport.

There are two regional chain supermarkets in the county, both in Derby. There are local groceries as well.


78.2% had at least a high school education. 16.1% had at least an undergraduate degree.

There are three public high schools in the county: North Country Union High School (1063 students), Lake Region Union High School (396), and Craftsbury Academy (59).[25] Wheeler Mountain Academy, grades 7-12, aids students who have emotional, behavioral or learning challenges. 15 are enrolled.[26] United Christian Academy is a private religious school K-12, enrolling 108 students.[27]

There are about 85 home schooled students in the county, grades 1-12.

Higher EducationEdit

Craftsbury Common is home to Sterling College, an accredited four year institution with nearly 100 students.[28]

The City of Newport is home to a branch of the Community College of Vermont which enrolls nearly 300 students.[29] It awards an Associate's Degree for these undergraduate studies.

Cities, towns, and villagesEdit


There are eighteen towns and one city in the county.

Most towns contract with the County Sheriff for policing.[31]




  • W243AE - 96.5 FM; Orleans
  • WIKE - 1490 AM; 1 kW; Newport
  • WMOO - 92.1 FM; Derby Center


  • W14CK - Channel 14; Newport
  • NEK-TV - Channels 14 and 15;[32] Northeast Kingdom Television, Newport.[33]

Utilities and CommunicationEdit


Verizon Communications supplies hard line telephone coverage for the entire county.

Cell phonesEdit

Unicel works best in the county with good reception in the village of Barton and the city of Newport, among others.

Verizon Wireless covers western Newport city and the Derby-north I-91 area. Owl's Head in Canada may provide "roaming" service in the North part of the county including the eastern side of the city of Newport. Better coverage is now available with new towers


  • Broadband coverage as of 2006[34]
    • Total Coverage = 86%[35]
    • Cable = 52%
    • DSL = 44%
    • Wireless Internet Service Provider = 69%


Major RoutesEdit

The opening of the Interstate north from Barton on November 9, 1972 and opening south from the county in 1978 had an impact on the county comparable to the opening of the railway a century earlier. In 1980, the county registered its first population gain in a century.[11]

The interstate has five exits in the county. Two are in the town of Barton, servicing the villages of Barton and Orleans; three are in the town of Derby: the southernmost one, exit 27, actually services Newport city a mile away, 28 services village of Derby Center and the shopping areas, 29, the village of Derby Line.

The county has 1,041 miles of State highway and class 1, 2 and 3 roads. 606 miles of these are dirt roads (class 3). 141 miles are unused roads (Class 4). As in most of New England, the county government does not build nor maintain any roads.

Derby has the most road mileage, 102; Westfield the least with 31.[36]

The county has seven stoplights, six in the city of Newport and one in Derby. Five are on Route 5.

Local community public and private transportationEdit

The RCT (Rural Community Transportation) runs out of Saint Johnsbury and services Caledonia, Essex, Lamoille and Orleans Counties.


Washington County Railroad (The Vermont Railway System) - WACR has just recently been awarded a 30 year contract to operate the track running from White River Junction North through St. Johnsbury and Newport. Users ship freight on this route.


The county is served by the Newport State Airport. It contains two runways of 4000 feet each 05-23, and 18-36.

Notable ResidentsEdit

Footnotes Edit

  1. ^ retrieved on May 22, 2007
  2. ^ Author {{subst:#ifexist:Howard Mosher|[[Howard Mosher|]]|[[Wikipedia:Howard Mosher|]]}} has written a number of books about the area including Where the Rivers Flow North.
  3. ^ Gazetteer of Vermont by John Hayward, 1849
  4. ^ 2006 Financial Report of Orleans County General Fund, The Chronicle, March 7, 2007, page 26
  5. ^
  6. ^ Darrell Hoyt (1985). Sketches of Orleans, Vermont. Mempremagog Press. ISBN 0-9610860-2-5. , page 1
  7. ^ "RootsWeb". The Hazen Military Road. Retrieved 2007-01-03. 
  8. ^ a b c d e Child, Hamilton. (May 1887). Gazetteer of Lamoille and Orleans Counties, VT.; 1883-1884. Hamilton Child. 
  9. ^ "Vermont History". The Checkered Career of Timothy Hinman. Retrieved 2006-12-27. 
  10. ^ later called Washington county November 8, 1814
  11. ^ a b c Young, Darlene (1998). A history of Barton Vermont. Crystal Lake Falls Historical Association. 
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Best Places to Live in Rural America. Progressive Farmer's 2007 Annual Report. 2007. 
  17. ^ [ "Vermont Housing & Conservation Board"]. Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Housing and Wages in Vermont. Retrieved 2007-01-05. 
  18. ^ "Rural Policy and Research Institute". Demographic and Economic Profile - Vermont. Retrieved 2007-01-05. 
  19. ^ "Vermont Department of Housing and Community Affairs". Vermont Statewide Trends. Retrieved 2007-01-05. 
  20. ^ Jobless rate sees sharp increase,The Chronicle, March 7, 2007, page 34
  21. ^
  22. ^ Dunbar, Bethany (August 29, 2007). Higher milk prices help farmers catch up. the Chronicle. 
  23. ^ "Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund". Forest and Forest Products Trends. Retrieved 2007-01-05. 
  24. ^ Braithwaite, Chris (May 30, 2007). Deal will preserve two drugstores in Newport Derby market. the Chronicle. 
  25. ^
  26. ^ retrieved on June 13, 2007
  27. ^ retrieved on June 13, 2007
  28. ^ [
  29. ^
  30. ^ While incorporated villages may be separate census divisions, they are still part of the towns they are in
  31. ^ various articles,The Chronicle,March 7, 2007
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^ Rural Vt. wants it's broadband,Burlington Free Press,February 8, 2007, page 1A
  35. ^ Statewide average is 87%
  36. ^

See also Edit

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 44°50′N 72°15′W / 44.83, -72.25

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Orleans County, Vermont. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.

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