The Friends of the Winooski River has completed a project to remove a collapsed stone tramway pier, stabilize the bank of Graves Brook, and replace part of a lawn with shrubs and trees to prevent erosion. The project was funded by a grant from the State of Vermont, Agency of Natural Resources, Department of Environmental Conservation.
Vermont Business Magazine When the State of Vermont converted the Mount Mansfield Electric Railway to a road for cars in 1932, they left behind some of the infrastructure that supported the elevated tram as it crossed Graves Brook in Waterbury. Massive stone piers punctuated the landscape behind what is now Billing’s Mobil station, and they served as a reminder of the electric railway for nearly a century.
In the spring of 2019, heavy rains resulted in high water in Graves Brook, which cut behind one of the piers, leaving a collapsed heap of stone in the stream. A large section of Marion Germana’s backyard was washed downstream. Her son, Dick, reached out to the State for help, and they referred the Germanas to Friends of the Winooski River to try to stabilize the situation.
Friends of the Winooski River obtained State of Vermont Clean Water funds via a block grant from Watersheds United Vermont to hire engineering firm Milone & MacBroom, Inc, of Waterbury, to design a solution. Walker Construction, Inc, of Stowe brought in the heavy equipment needed to remove the massive stones from the middle of the stream, and contoured the streambank to prevent further undercutting. Removing the pile of stones from the stream and stabilizing the streambank will prevent further sediment from washing downstream.
This fall, Friends of the Winooski River staff joined Dick Germana in planting native perennial flowering plants, shrubs, and trees which will develop deeper root systems than the existing lawn, and help to prevent future erosion of his mother’s backyard. Dick says, “My mother is 96 years old, and she is delighted that someone cared about her backyard. She is going to love to see the flowers next summer.”