Victory, one of Vermont’s least populated towns, is in the southwestern portion of Essex County, and more than half its land is either state forest or preserved for recreation and wildlife habitat. Victory is bounded on the northeast by Granby and East Haven, on the southeast by Lunenburg and Concord, on the southwest by Concord and Kirby and on the northwest by Kirby and Burke. The Darling State Forest and 3,270-foot Burke Mountain are located on the town line between Victory and Burke.
Victory was granted Nov. 6, 1780 and chartered Sept. 6, 1781 to Capt. Ebenezer Fisk and 64 associates. The township was designed originally to contain 23,040 acres, but a tract of land between Victory and Concord – known as Bradley's Vale – was divided by the Vermont legislature in 1856 and a portion of about 2,500 acres was annexed to Victory.
A large portion of the town’s land area encompasses the valley of the Moose River, which rises in East Haven and runs in a southerly direction through Victory. The river got its name because moose were so abundant in the area, which was a favored hunting ground for Native Americans and later colonists. A couple of miles from the southern border with Concord where Bog Brook joins the Moose River is a 3,000-acre marsh known as Victory Bog.
The first permanent inhabitant was John Shorer of Sanbornton, N. H., who moved to Granby in 1815 and to Victory in 1822. The first sawmill was built by Joseph Woods around 1830 on the Moose River, and the town was an important logging area until the 1940s. As timber production declined, attempts to convert the land to agricultural use failed, and it reverted to forest. While Victory did not prove suitable for some types of agriculture, in the 1800s, the town was famous for its blueberry fields that grew where timber had been cleared and then burned. The Vermont Historical Gazetteer, published in the 1860s, reported that “Blueberry bushes have come in spontaneously and in such abundance that during the autumn months thousands resort to them for the purpose of gathering the fruit with which they are often so heavily loaded.”
The Gazetteer described the lure of Victory’s blueberries during the fall harvests of 1859 and 1860: “From the time they commenced to ripen until they were gone, there was a ‘regular rush’ to the blueberry fields. The road side, barns and barnyards along the nearest available points were lined and filled with horses and carriages while the fields were inhabited by scores at a time from adjoining towns, and sometimes from a distance of 30 or 40 and even 50 miles, and the most of them would come out with their baskets filled.”
Victory never drew many permanent inhabitants, but it was celebrated in national news stories in 1963, when it and neighboring Granby became the last two towns in Vermont to get electricity.
After the timber industry faded in the mid-20th century, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers developed a plan to generate power by building a dam on the Moose River, which would have flooded Victory bog and much of its valley. The proposal drew strong opposition from state and private conservation officials, and in 1969 a large tract of land was purchased from the New England Power Company, ending the dam plan. The land that was acquired became a 4,900-acre wetland and forest complex known as the Victory Basin Wildlife Management Area.
Today the Victory Basin Wildlife Management Area is part of the 15,826-acre Victory State Forest, which also includes the Darling State Park. In the Victory State Forest, the state proclaims, “picturesque mountains surround the low-lying swampland, which is home to moose, black bear, red fox and river otter.” Recreational opportunities include camping, hiking, picnicking, mountain biking and snowmobiling.