ST. ALBANS – Franklin County’s story is one of farm fields, butter trains and maple syrup, a history still felt today as farms bridge the land between towns and homemade syrup continues to stock shelves everywhere from gas stations to the local tailor.
The St. Albans Historical Society will celebrate that heritage with an upcoming exhibit detailing 150 years of the county’s relationship with agriculture.
In its inaugural year, the Farming Franklin County exhibit has already culled a collection from donors and lenders as far away as Montgomery, highlighting the most visible faces of Franklin County’s historic ties to the plow and the cow.
“Farming Franklin County is about celebrating this really important part of our history and heritage,” said Saint Albans Museum Executive Director Alex Lehning said. “Agriculture has a really critical legacy here in St. Albans and here in Franklin County.”
The exhibit was originally tailored to just St. Albans, but, according to Lehning, it very quickly grew to something more encompassing of the county and even the wider region.
“We realized pretty quickly that you can’t talk about agriculture here in our community without talking about agriculture in our county and in our region,” Lehning said. “So we were happy to broaden the scope of the exhibit really quickly when we realized all the great stories we could tell.”
While the exhibit is narrowly focused on individual stories and companies within Franklin County – a prominent display features a St. Albans poultry company that no longer stands, as well as a maple industry piece sponsored by Leader Evaporator – Lehning noted that Franklin County’s role as an economic center in the New England agricultural industry meant that its impact could be felt elsewhere.
“Being the maple syrup capital, the dairy capital, the butter capital, our impact was certainly felt beyond our borders,” Lehning said. “We’re very mindful of that broader, regional impact.”
The exhibit is divided into four categories: maple, dairy, farm life and community. Their corresponding artifacts are sometimes obvious – an old evaporator and syrup buckets help hold down the “maple” section – but others could be a little more surprising.
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