Sunday, December 6, 2015

Cavendish's Lime Kiln/Phinease Gage

Kilns once doted the Vermont landscape as these were used to make a white powder derived from limestone. For at least 7,000 years humans have used this process to hardened pottery or smelted ore, and most commonly, to create mortar for construction. This would have been used between the layers for Cavendish's stone houses and church

During the height of the lime kilns, forests and mountainsides were stripped of their trees to keep them operating. 
 This particularly kiln, though not that easy to see most of the year as it's covered in vines, has a historical interest because as it was used as a marker to identify for where Phineas Gage was injured. 

On Sept ember 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. Miraculously he survived his injury and lived 12 more years, becoming the first well documented case of traumatic brain injury in medicine. 

In 1936, Walton H. Green relayed information given to him 30 years prior by Christopher Goodrich, the ox-cart driver who drove Gage to his boarding house. Goodrich was 82 at the time. Green said, “The accident took place at the second cut south of Cavendish …near where Roswell Downer built his lime kiln later.” The accident took place 0.75 miles south of Cavendish along the track of the Old Rutland and Burlington Rail Road (Cavendish Gulf Rd). There is a 21.7 marker on tracks, which can be seen from the road. If you look across the tracks, you will see the remains of a limekiln.

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