"The mountains around them are so impracticable to pass it is with great trouble and difficulty that they can meet with the towns they belong to, for public worship and town business." So stated part of a February 1784 petition to the Vermont Assembly for 50 inhabitants of four towns: Tinmouth, Wells, Poultney and Ira. In response to the petition, a legislative committee met with the isolated residents and concurred with their argument. On Oct. 28, 1784, the Legislature incorporated Middletown. The Assembly took land from four towns: Tinmouth, 3,510 acres; Wells, 6,118 acres; Poultney, 2,388 acres; and Ira, 1,825 acres. The story regarding the town's name revolves around Joseph Spaulding, the original surveyor. Apparently, he was permitted to name the new town. Hailing from Middletown, Conn., Spaulding believed this name fit the community, having been pieced together from acreage from the other four towns and placed right in the center. It took another 100 years to add, "Springs" to the town name. Residents held a meeting to organize the town on Nov. 17, 1784, adjourned for five days, and then decided the cost of "getting the town established" would be 2 pounds, 12 shillings and 7 pence. On March 7, 1784, at the first town meeting, voters passed three articles of town business. One specified "swine should not run at large." The new town already featured signs of growth in 1785. Both saw and grist mills operated, two churches had active congregations, a log meeting house stood and residents had cleared 574 acres. At the first census taken in 1791, Middletown had 699 residents, only 124 less than the 2000 census. The town had 1,066 people in 1800 and struck its population zenith in 1810 when it reached1,207. By that year the town was a bevy of industrial activity, all due to the waterpower of the Poultney River. The waterway powered four gristmills, three sawmills, two to three forges, two distilleries and a number of other establishments. However, after severe flooding in 1811 that damaged or ruined many of the facilities the town population fell into decline. But before water played a more different role in the town's history, horsepower did. Albert W. Gray and horsepower went together and made a name in town. A local millwright, Gray invented and patented a treadmill machine that was powered by one horse. Though patented in 1844, it took another 13 years for the machine to gain in popularity. People discovered the machine made threshing of grain and butter churning much easier tasks. Gray's invention introduced mechanization to the farm. The Middletown company grew and became the town's largest employer until 1900. The main structure stood three stories high and 90 feet long. There were several storehouses and the company turned out 1,200 treadmills annually in the early years. Unfortunately, gas-powered technology signaled the treadmill's demise and the company closed its doors in 1917. Now what about the springs of Middletown Springs? Before its founding, Middletown had three large springs that bubbled up close to the Poultney River. Then in 1811, a "great freshet" struck the region and the Poultney River ran rampant. Gravel buried the springs as the river cut a new channel. In 1868, another severe flood struck the region and after the waters subsided, A.W. Gray discovered the Poultney River had reverted to its old channel and uncovered the springs. This just happened to occur right in the midst of the popular age of hydrotherapy, water treatments for health. Papers described the therapeutic waters of Middletown and people came to enjoy the springs. A plant bottled the waters for sale. The springs were touted to cure a number of maladies. Hotel brochures informed visitors which spring helped with what health problem. Using a combination of the waters even increased the number. With the influx of tourists, it was decided to build a resort hotel near the mineral springs. When completed in 1871, the $100,000 Montvert Hotel featured three and half stories containing137 rooms, first-class dining and plenty of activities. The new hotel could accommodate 250 guests. Patrons not only imbibed the waters, but also engaged in carriage tours, hikes, croquet, lawn tennis and, in later years, bowling. People felt better after their stay at the Montvert fully linking their improved health directly to the mineral springs. They never connected the combination of greater water consumption; exercise, fresh air and good food did more for one's health than only focusing on the springs. Visitors came to the springs via carriage or coach, having reached Vermont by train. The demand and popularity of the mineral springs declined in the last part of the 19th century as recreational activities developed around Lakes Bomoseen and St. Catherine as an attraction. Workmen dismantled the Montvert Hotel in 1906, but some artifacts still remain, as do containers used for bottling the mineral spring water. An architect incorporated portions of the bowling alley into a bungalow in town. The popularity of the springs served as the primary reason why Middletown added, "Springs" to the town name. The post office first adopted the name and the Legislature made it official in 1884. Having Middletown Springs acted as a subtle attractant for tourists craving hydrotherapeutic cures. Today most of the village is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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