The wedding photo above is from 1947 here at the Echo Lake Inn.
History changes some things but not everything. A guest of the Inn in the 1890’s said of Tyson, the town in which the Inn is located, “it is one of the few places where the dog star seems to be robbed so completely of his power”. It is still that peaceful and quiet. The original Inn was built in 1799 – to the rear of the existing Inn. It collapsed under a severe storm in the 1970’s, having served as an antique shop in its declining years. The popularity of the original Inn, located on the main stage-coach line, was instant and led to the construction of the existing Inn around 1840. The Inn was built by Frank Josselyn for a reported $500.00. It is also reported to be only one of six Inns in Vermont functioning today that was originally built as an Inn.
A look at the past is required to fully appreciate Tyson and the surrounding area today. Tyson belied the commercial activity of the small area. Tyson was named after Isaac Tyson who in 1830 built a foundry for smelting iron ore, abundant in the area. The town was officially called Tyson Furnace and the foundry was most successful in the production of Tyson stoves – a unique wood burning stove (one can be seen in the Inn). For various reasons business declined slowly and it later became a woodworking shop. The remains of the original foundation of the foundry can still be seen among the wildlife and is a popular walking excursion for guests of the Inn.
The Tyson Furnace, the Inn, and the Scott-Hubbard Cheese Factory are all located on Dublin Road – named in honor of the many Irish employees of the foundry. The cheese factory, which at its peak, produced 12 tons of cheese a year, was converted into condominiums in 1983 and they are located adjacent to the Inn’s tennis court. Also active in the Tyson business community was Hugh Spaulding’s saw mill, a thriving business into the mid 1990’s. Another business which attracted many participants, but produced little profit, was gold mining. Gold is still prospected and many Inn guests return for dinner with particles of gold, providing interesting dinner conversation.
One thing history definitely changes is historic Inns. The Echo Lake Inn has operated as an Inn, uninterrupted except for a brief period in the 1960’s when extensive damage was done during a severe flood. New owners spent a considerable sum repairing the damage and adding modern conveniences. The previous owners, Beth and Laurence Jeffery, made a large investment in bridging the historical charm of the Inn up to date with modern comforts sought by today’s guests. This philosophy is apparent in many ways beginning with the “Presidential Treatment” service by the staff. It derives from the Inn’s most dramatic link with history: President Calvin Coolidge. The 30th President of the United States, born minutes away in Plymouth, took the oath of office there. The President’s legend has been perpetuated over the years through books, foundations, state parks, state highways, television, and theater. In a small way the current owners of the Inn have tried to perpetuate the Coolidge tradition. The President’s name appears often in the Inn’s register as do the names of his friends: Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, and Andrew Carneige. William McKinley, the 25th President of the United States, was also a guest at the Inn. Look at Tyson today: a few more people, a few more houses, a few less horses, more asphalt, but still peaceful, still beautiful, still Tyson. The Tyson Congregational Church (built in 1894 across from the Echo Lake Inn) and the Inn itself are still operating.
Today’s roads may be faster and more comfortable than back when guests “could get a private equipage from one of the several liveries, or use the mail stagecoach which makes daily trips through Tyson to Woodstock” (quoted from the Inn’s brochure from the late 1800’s). But the dirt roads still abound as travelers can attest. Visitors have no problem touching and experiencing the rich history of Echo Lake Inn and Tyson, while still enjoying all the comforts of a memorable vacation.
Acknowledgement for some historical information is given to Eliza Ward, Barbara Mahon, and Barbara Chiolino. Some photographs are courtesy of Elisa McCue and Lloyd Eaton.