Ryegate sits in the southeastern corner of Caledonia County and is the southernmost community in the Northeast Kingdom. Bordered to the north by Barnet, with Newbury, in Orange County, to the south, and to its west is the town of Groton. Traversing its way through Ryegate is the Wells River making its way to the Connecticut River which flows on the eastern edge of the town.
The historic Bayley-Hazen Road runs north and south through the center of town, which is home to Lower Symes and Ticklenaked Ponds. Ryegate was chartered Sept. 8, 1763 as a part of the New Hampshire Land Grants. In the winter of 1773, a group of farmers from Scotland sent David Allen and James Whitelaw to scout tracts of land for settlement in North America. After landing in Philadelphia, they met with Dr. Witherspoon, president of New Jersey College, who informed them he had a 23,000-acre township of land called Ryegate, in the province of New York on the Connecticut River.
The town was organized, with Whitelaw as the first town clerk, in 1776. One of Ryegate’s more famous landowners was John Witherspoon, the reverend and president of the Presbyterian College of New Jersey (modern day Princeton University) and signatory of the United States Declaration of Independence. According to Edward Miller and Fredric P. Wells in “History of Ryegate, Vermont,” published in 1913, the glory of Ryegate is in the men and women whom it has produced or who have descended from its early families. A sturdy race were those Scotchmen in Yankee-land who subdued the wilderness, covered the hills with fruitful farms and planted there the church and the school.
Today, Ryegate is a small, quiet town divided into three villages: South Ryegate, East Ryegate and Ryegate Corner. Easily accessible of I-91 and Route 302, the town is known to have excellent soil for farming. Since Ryegate has no schools, students often attend Blue Mountain Union School in Wells River.