Castleton, Vermont is located in Rutland County at 73.3° north and 46.6° west. It has a current population of about 4300. The name "Castleton" is unique to New England, although there is a Castleton-on-Hudson in New York State. The origin of the name is unknown.
The town of Castleton was chartered by Gov. Benning Wentworth of New Hampshire on September 22, 1761. The charter carved 36 acres out of the wilderness, and divided the land into 70 'shares' or plots. Amos Bird and Noah Lee were the first settlers to the area, bringing their families to Castleton from Salisbury, Connecticut in 1767. The Old Cobbler Shop was build on a patch of Amos Bird's land, and is the oldest brick structure in Vermont. By 1777, the town was home to 17 families. At this time, the settlement was referred to as New Cheshire because many of the settlers had come from New Cheshire, Connecticut, however the name was never officially changed.
During the American Revolution, Castleton served as a frontier outpost. It was here that Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold planned and assembled their forces for the assault on Fort Ticonderoga in 1775. Several troops were based out of Castleton after the Battle of Hubbardton the same year.
The Rutland County Grammar School was chartered by the General Assembly of the Republic of Vermont in 1787. After several expansions and name changes, the school exists today as Castleton State College, and is the 18th oldest university in the United States. The college currently enrolls about 1400 undergraduate students in over 30 academic programs.
Castleton found itself as the center of a thriving community in southern Vermont. Local quarries soon discovered large caches of marble, which was exported around the world. Two stagecoach lines soon made their way through Castleton, one between Troy, New York and Burlington, and another between Whitehall, New York and Rutland. Railroads were built along these same lines in the mid-1800's, transporting passengers, marble, and slate. Tourists soon found their way to Castleton and the rest of the Lake District. Hydeville, located just south of Castleton on Lake Bomoseen, soon became home to several luxury hotels and expensive summer homes.
In the early 1900's, a fire struck the village, destroying the business center. Many large hotels were destroyed, as well as several business and homes. This fire marked Castleton's sharp decline in the local economy. Today, Castleton is a small, quiet town in the hills of Vermont. The college is the very center of business, with a large majority of the local residents working for the college.
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