The 1927 Flood

The 1927 Flood Newsreel - digitized and reshot

by Jay Taylor, Independent Geology Research Project, Spring 2008

Based on: Vermont Flood of 1927. Undirected. Cinematography by Norcott, L.A., Hoyt, Edward V., & Eno, Ralph R., Videocassette. University of Vermont, 1978.

  Click here to see an album with all the news-reel screenshots and video clips.

  Click here to view the entire newsreel online.

What did I do?
The process is simple. I used a video editing station computer in UVM's Bailey Howe Library to run the VHS movie through a VCR connected to the computer. I used Apple's iMovie to make a digital movie file with the whole movie which I loaded onto my computer and I no longer needed the video editing equipment, only my personal laptop. Then I divided the movie file into separate movie clips, each clip containing video footage from a different town in Vermont. I then went through each clip and made still-shots, or screenshots, which are what I eventually loaded to the Landscape Change Program website. In all the full video of 41 minutes and 41 seconds was split into 34 clips with 110 different screenshots, each of which were loaded onto the LCP website.

What I saw in the movie?
While doing research for another class in the Geology department I came across the movie, "Vermont Flood of 1927." I was very intrigued by this movie and the Vermont history that I was witnessing in the form or early motion picture. What I saw was a Vermont that looked similar to the Vermont that I know and love and yet different in some way. The 1927 flood changed Vermont in a lot of ways. After the flood many roads, railways, rivers, buildings, and towns needed to be completely rebuilt and this provided the opportunity to upgrade the infrastructure of the state in such a way that little has really changed between today and the initial post-flood reconstruction. The whole time I was watching the movie I was thinking, "alcould this really be Vermont?" Seeing water flowing all the way through the first floor of the mill atop the dam in Winooski, seeing an enormous gash through the middle of the town where I went to high school, and seeing endless water-covered Vermont scenes piqued my interest and I wanted to go into the field and try to find as many of those shots as I could.

Changes seen in the reshoots.
Overall Vermont is set-up essentially the same. The towns are still located around railways and rivers and each town has it's own characteristic look. Things that were damaged were rebuilt after the flood, and rebuilt better than they were before. Many bridges in the state were lost because when the flood water rose it lifted the surface of the bridge clean away from it's bases and anchors. The bridges today are built with reinforced concrete, especially branching out of the base on each bank to prevent flood water from eroding that base away. The state's bridges and roads have been rebuilt to withstand damage from another flood of a slightly less severe degree. The flood waters, which were 22 feet above normal in some places, set the benchmark for “the worst case scenario” in the state, and it has allowed municipal planners and designers to plan their new bridge, road, and rail projects accordingly. The Central Vermont Railroad, for example, was rebuilt on top of several feet of dirt and rock fill after the flood. Much of the railroad was eroded during the flood as much of the railroad follows the Winooski river, especially across the Bolton Valley. Overall the state has seen some modernization. Roads that were one lane each way are now two, railways have become mostly a thing of the past, small villages have become full towns, and Vermont has grown up around the changes made during the post-flood reconstruction.
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