Tracing the history of a lost town–Plymouth Five Corners Vermont

Since Plymouth township adjoins Bridgewater Corners, we consider it to be a part of the October Country Inn neighborhood. Originally founded in 1787 under the name Saltash, it was changed to Plymouth in 1798. The community of Plymouth Fives Corners grew from a small collection of early farmers trying to build a living in the rocky stubbornness of the Vermont hills.  They grew hay, corn,oats and potatoes. They kept cattle, goats and hens. In time the early settlers established the village, and their children and grandchildren grew to continue this quiet, country way of life.

The quiet agricultural village of Five Corners, in a peculiar twist of history, changed markedly in 1858 when William Hanerson returned from the California gold fields and noticed that the rock formations and terrain of Five Corners were similar to certain sections of the west where gold had been found. Hanerson investigated and found gold in the brooks flowing through Five Corners and started the Vermont gold rush.

Gold fever overtook not only the local villagers but people came from hundreds of miles away in search of gold. These prospectors searched energetically for the vein that was leaking gold into the streams. The Plymouth Gold Mining Company, with a capital of $50,000 was set up and began to work claims in the area. A quartz mill was built. However the source of the gold was never found, and after about 4 years, the gold rush slowly petered out. 

Five Corners was left to slowly settle back into the quiet agricultural community it once was.  This small community was very familiar to U.S. President Calvin Coolidge, who was born and grew up in the nearby town of Plymouth. In fact,  a former Five Corners schoolteacher, John Garbaldi Sargent, was later appointed by Coolidge to be the U.S. Attorney General.

However, many of the businesses established to service the rapid growth of the local population fueled by the gold rush, could not sustain themselves after the gold fever subsided.  The hotel was the first of the gold rush established businesses to close.  Over the next decade the saw mill, then the grist mill, and finally the schoolhouse fell into disrepair as the community continually shrank from about 1900 on.  When the last family was gone sometime in the late 1920s, upkeep of the roads was abandoned. The deer and fox began to return. Grass grew tall, trees sprouted and the forest overtook areas that once were yards and fields, and the Vermont wilderness began to reclaim the deserted village as its own.

Today, although the only signs of this once bustling village are old stone lined cellar holes alongside the creeks and paths, people still come to pan for gold.  Walkers stroll these country roads through the quiet woods in the summer, hunters stalk deer, turkey, and grouse in the fall, and snowmobilers and snowshoers travel the trails during the winter months.  Plymouth Five Corners may be a Vermont ghost town, but much of the same lure that drew the early settlers, still drawns visitors to this area from near and far.