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Jan 26, 2007

Vermont Towns Begin Mapping Ancient Roads

Under a state imposed deadline to "map them or lose them" towns across Vermont have begun digging through centuries of old maps and land records to try and discover the location of ancient roads.

Act 178, which was passed by the State Legislature last year, established deadlines for identifying ancient roads by local communities. Local governments have until July 1, 2009, to identify all previously unmapped or have them declared an "unidentified corridors." By 2015, if the roads still haven't' been identified, they will be automatically discontinued.

Many of the ancient roads, most of which do not appear on any current maps, were established were established decades, if not centuries ago. Some of the roads may not have ever been actually used, but simply plotted on a map. In almost all cases, the roads are not clearly visible.

According to the County Courier, the law's deadlines have sent local officials deep into their archives, searching for early town and state maps, lotting plans, local history, surveying, deeds and land transfers to uncover the hidden history of roads in every corner of Vermont.

While some government officials have groused about the difficulty of the task, local historians see a tremendous opportunity for research and have recruited volunteers to assist in the effort. Gerry Longway, a member of the Fairfield Historical Society, told the Courier, "This is my thing. I love this stuff. You've got all this historical information and now we get to put it all together ... It could be a great project."

See also: "Phantom Roads" Provide Pitfalls For Landowners; Potential Work For Cartographers

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