Before Your Time

Vermont’s Great Flood

October 25, 2017

A rugbeater is a simple tool, made of wood and thick wire, that Vermonters once used to beat dust out of rugs hung on clotheslines. One rugbeater in the Vermont Historical Society's collection was used to clean up after a historic mess.

Ninety years ago, a rainstorm that swept across the eastern United States caused massive flooding in Vermont. The waters destroyed farmland across the state. Thousands of animals drowned. Eighty-four people lost their lives, including the state's lieutenant governor.

To this day, the 1927 flood is considered the biggest natural disaster in Vermont’s history.

But the flood was an even bigger turning point. The rebuilding process set in place some of the infrastructure that we still use today. And right before the Great Depression and the New Deal years of the 1930s, it focused the federal government’s attention – and some of its money – on a state that had never really asked for it.