Friday, September 5, 2014


On September 13, 1848 Phineas Gage, a foreman, was working with his crew excavating rocks in preparing the bed for the Rutland and Burlington Railroad in Cavendish. An accidental explosion of a charge he had set blew his tamping iron through his head. It entered under the left cheekbone and exited through the top of the head. The rod, covered with brains and blood, was found approximately 30 yards from the site of the accident.

It is remarkable that Gage survived this accident, let alone lived for 11 more years. Fortunately Dr. Harlow and Dr. Henry J. Bigelow, a professor of surgery at Harvard University, tracked Gage as much possible, thereby documenting one of the first cases of traumatic brain injury in medical science. It was also the first understanding that different parts of the brain have different functions. With this knowledge, the first brain tumor removal operation became possible in 1885.

On September 14, at 2 pm, the Cavendish Historical Society will hold it’s yearly “talk and walk,” which includes a discussion of the accident, the latest historical information about the case and an approximately two mile round trip walk to the location of the accident. Meet at the Cavendish Historical Society Museum at 2 pm. FMI: 802-226-7807 or

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