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Super Senior: Dick Hovey - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Super Senior: Dick Hovey

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PEACHAM, Vt. -

Picturesque Peacham is known for its fall foliage.

"Peacham is a great... it's a very nice town," Dick Hovey said.

Soon, tourists will flock to the village. Dick hopes they will take a detour down this road less traveled to an unusual little museum few have heard of.

"Here it is," he said.

It's a barn full of snow rollers.

"I got interested in rollers when I first saw them, I just lost it," Dick said. "That was it. Because it hadn't been done before, nothing had been done about it."

Dick says most people are clueless about rollers.

"All these various towns had rollers," he said.

Starting around the 1880s, a team of horses would literally roll the snow and pack it down so the winter roads could stay open.

"So it has two rollers so it can turn," he explained.

The one from Barnet is his favorite.

"This is a big one," he said. "It's the second largest one that we know of."

They come from places like Fayston, Lunenburg, Royalton and Rupert. It's the largest collection of snow rollers in the country. The era of the snow roller was relatively short, about 50 years. When the tractor came in, so did the plow. And then it was out with the old and in with the new. Many snow rollers went up in flames in the early 1940s; the metal was used for the war effort. They also wanted them out of the town garages because they took up space.

Dick thinks there about 20 others scattered around the state.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Are you proud of this?

Dick Hovey: Yeah, because people didn't know about it and like it.

Dick's history started up the road in St. Johnsbury. He went to the Academy, graduated from Harvard, married his high school sweetheart, Dorothy, and became a geologist. He worked for an oil company and saw the world.

"Oh, I loved it," he said. "I had a wonderful time. I went around to Alaska to Europe to Africa."

But after retirement, they came back home. The Snow Roller Museum has been a 10-year project.

"I got started because I wanted to save this barn," Dick said. "People were going to tear it down."

The town owns the barn. It's plain and simple, built in the early 20th century to hold the town's various snow rollers. Dick thought if the structure was going to be saved, it should have a roller. From there, well, it snowballed.

Joe Carroll: Why do you think these should be saved?

Dick Hovey: They're interesting to me, seems to me they're interesting to other people.

The 88-year-old even penned a book on the subject.

"We've sold quite a lot of these," he said of his book, "Snow Rollers of Vermont: Half Century of Snow Rolling in Vermont."

At one time, Peacham had a crew of at least four people rolling the roads; some were women. The people and the rollers are now history. But thanks to a man with a desire to save a piece of Vermont's past, they live on.

The museum will be open to the public Sept. 29 for Peacham's Fall Foliage Day.

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