Greenbank’s Hollow: The Forgotten Village

DANVILLE, Vermont (WCAX) – It’s a village forgotten in time. The Vermont Valley Woolen Mill was the largest woolen mill in Vermont until it burst into flames in 1885, taking the surrounding village with it.

“The mill burned down in a massive fire that could be seen as far away as St. Johnsbury,” said David Houston of the Danville Historical Society. He and Hollis Prior manage what remains of the mill. They say there was no way for the village to survive without the mill.

“The night watchmen who made their usual rounds each night went up to the 3rd or 4th floor,” detailed Houston. “He hung his lantern, as he always did, on one of the beams and the nail snapped.”

As the fire spread, the owners’ family and workers living nearby saved as much of their possessions as possible. Some were burned, but fortunately none of the injuries were fatal.

“The fire burned down the owner’s house, right here,” Houston said. “He burned down the store and the post office. He burned the covered bridge.

People tried to stay in the area after the fire, but without the covered bridge the village became isolated, forcing most people to leave. Prior says the logistics just didn’t work out.

“They tried here to get the kids to school walking on the ice of the dam, but of course it’s not safe,” Prior said.

Many workers remained in the Danville area, while most members of the Greenbank family dispersed across the country, opening other mills. (

From 1885 to 2004, very little was done with the land or the remains of the village. It was in 2004 that the Danville Historical Society began to preserve what was left and mark it so people could remember the mills’ contribution to the community and country.

“The majority of sales from this woolen mill went to Civil War uniforms, so that was very important at the time,” Prior continued.

Greenbank’s Hollow is a public park that you can visit on your own. In addition to its fascinating history, it has several kilometers of nature trails.

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