Change in the Norwich village of Lewiston VT: Today and Yesterday

A lot of History down in the old village.

I stopped by old Lewiston Vermont the other day.  Lewiston is the "lost village" of Norwich.  It was a booming place back in the heyday of the railroads, and up into the 20th century.     

The Lewiston, or Hanover-Norwich Train Station, built in 1884, as it looks in 2019.

The Lewiston, or Hanover-Norwich railroad station as viewed from the tracks side.

Looking south from the Lewiston Railroad Station, toward Wilder and White River Jct.

Old freight building next to the train station in Lewiston Vermont.

The Pottery studio, a former home and an historic remnant of old Lewiston

The downfall of Lewiston was the result of three factors.  The first factor contributing to the fall of Lewistion was the decline of the railroad industry, and the closing of the railroad station in Lewiston when White River Jct took over as the main stop for Hanover and Norwich, in the 1920's.   A bustiing village became a lot quieter when the railroad stop was discontinued at Lewiston.

The White River Jct railroad depot area in its heyday.

The second factor was the construction of the Wilder Dam in the late 1940's, which raised the level of the river by about sixteen feet, causing the destruction of several buildings along the waterfront, just north of the Ledyard Bridge. Wilder Lake was  born, and several buildings disappeared.

Old postcard showing the "new" Wilder Dam

The third and final factor affecting the decline of Lewiston Vermont was the building of Interstate 91, the northbound on-ramp, and the approach from the Ledyard Bridge.  All this expansion necessitated the destruction of several buildings along Lewiston Hill Road, which went from Norwich to Hanover via Lewiston village and the Ledyard Bridge.

Entrance to I-91 North, in Norwich, just beyond McKenna Rd.   Looking toward Norwich from Lewiston, 2019.

Lewiston Hill Rd.  The only section that exists today, off McKenna Rd.

The view from the bottom of Lewiston Hill Rd in 2019, showing the approximate location where the road used to continue on, toward the Ledyard Bridge.   Connecticut River is seen in the background.

Close-up view of a USGS map showing Lewiston before the arrival of the Interstate.  This map shows the former route from Norwich to the Ledyard Bridge and Hanover.

These days, much of what was Lewiston is owned by Dartmouth College.  Dartmouth College has just built a new parking lot on River Road in Lewiston.

The new Lewiston Parking Lot, recently built by Dartmouth College

Sign at the new Lewiston Parking Lot on River Road

On this particular day, the weather was clear and sunny, and cold, with temperatures in the low twenties.  This winter, the Connecticut River has been frozen over nicely, and it brought back visions of the old ice harvesting days, when there was an ice-house on the shore, that is now inundated by the Connecticut River.

Shoreline, now sixteen feet higher than before the Wilder Dam was built.  Plenty of ice could be harvested this year!

I walked carefully out on the frozen river, a short distance,  looking north.  I may have been standing on the site where the old ice-house had once stood.

This photo was taken while standing on the ice, looking north, possibly at the site of the old Lewiston Ice House.

I paused and listened, and imagined I could hear the sounds of people harvesting ice out on the lake, and the sounds of steam engines braking and pulling in to the old train station, and tons of coal being offloaded for heating Dartmouth College. 

Looking south from Lewiston VT, from the ice February 2019

What is next in store for old Lewiston village?  Affordable housing?  A Bird sanctuary?   A beautiful beach and dock for the residents of both Hanover and Norwich?  We'll just have to see.

Today, where Lewiston once thrived, stand vestiges of days gone by. They are few, but they are there....and the turkeys don't seem to care!

One of the Norwich Turkey Flocks enjoying the lack of snow on the south side of Lewiston Hill, in preparation for the upcoming snowstorm.

I hope you enjoyed another episode of "Old Roads, Rivers and Rails".  Thanks for your interest and also for subscribing!

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- Bob Totz

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