The Northeast Kingdom’s most populated county at 31,277, Caledonia is also home to two of the region’s largest business centers in St. Johnsbury and Lyndon. These two towns neighbor each other along the Passumpsic River. Both towns have an energetic business district, industrial park and beautiful historical buildings. Hardwick, lying on the western boundary, has become a regional center of organic agriculture.
Geographically, Caledonia County borders the Connecticut River to the southeast and I-91 and Route 5 run north-south through the center. In the southwest corner, lies Groton State Park, a 25,000-acre forest and the second largest protected area in the state. Burke Mountain, in East Burke, is home to Q Burke, a major ski resort in the region. Burke is also home to Kingdom Trails, a multiple use trail system unlike any other and recently voted as the “Best Mountain Bike Trail Network” in North America by Bike Magazine. The county is bounded on the north by Orleans County and the east by Essex County. The western part of the county is mountainous, while the eastern valleys and intervales historically provided excellent farming opportunities. The higher elevations of the county offer picturesque views of New Hampshire’s White Mountains.
Known to New England settlers for more than two centuries, it is not known when the region was discovered by Europeans. Prior to settlement, Native Americans inhabited the countryside, fished the rivers and streams and hunted in the vast wilderness.
Barnet, the home to 7,000-acre Harvey’s Lake, was the first town to be settled and was named after Scotland-born Colonel Alexander Harvey. The name Caledonia is derived from the ancient Roman name for Scotland.
The town of Danville originally held the county seat, but in 1855 the public buildings were moved to St. Johnsbury. It’s location on Route 2, one of the state’s well-traveled east-west corridors, made Danville a popular destination.
Much of St. Johnsbury’s heritage comes from the invention of the platform scale by Thaddeus Fairbanks, who established a business in 1830 that made the name "Fairbanks" synonymous with scales; and from George C. Cary, who founded the Cary Maple Sugar Co. in 1904. With the success and growth of the scale, maple sugar, and wood products industries, so grew St. Johnsbury. Due to its rapid growth, it became the Caledonia County seat in 1856. It also became a rail and highway junction, as well as industrial, commercial, and cultural crossroads of the region - a position in which it is firmly secure today. In recent years, St. Johnsbury has made a name for itself with its arts and cultural centers, including the Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium, the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum and Art Gallery and Catamount Arts.
Known as the “Covered Bridge Capital of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom,” Lyndon is divided into meadow and upland which has been used effectively for agriculture. It’s riverside location made it ideal for mills, factories and machinery. The Connecticut and Passumpsic Rivers Railroad run through the center of town and once afforded transportation of people and goods.
St. Johnsbury and Lyndon also both offer two renowned private high schools in St. Johnsbury Academy and Lyndon Institute. Many relocate to these towns, as well as other neighboring sending towns, for the purpose of sending their children to these schools.