Johnson is a town of 3,500 people nestled in the heart of Lamoille County. Mountains and forest dominate Johnson’s landscape and the spine of the Green Mountains winds through the town northeast to southwest. Butternut Mountain is the highest peak that falls entirely within the town. The peak of the 3,715-foot Sterling Mountain (also known as White Face Mountain) is located just south of the Johnson town line.
The Lamoille and Gihon rivers are a major recreational and scenic resource. In the past, the Gihon provided the foundation for Johnson’s water-powered mill economy. The first generating plant in town was located on the falls just north of the Power House Bridge. Johnson Woolen Mills dates back to 1836, when sheep outnumbered cows, and to date remains a core feature of the Johnson Village business district. Around the turn of the century, talc was the prominent industry in Johnson. Stowe and Smugglers Notch Ski Resorts located in neighboring communities of Stowe and Cambridge are major contributors to the regional economy.
Johnson, granted in 1782 to Samuel Johnson and others, was chartered as a town in January, 1792. In 1856, Johnson annexed part of the town of Sterling, and in 1894 the Village of Johnson was incorporated. Today, the Town and Village of Johnson remain separate governmental bodies.
Johnson Village represents the community’s cultural, commercial and institutional center. The Village is a compact community that is home to a number of unique businesses, heritage buildings and residential neighborhoods. The Village has long been a center for education and today approximately 42% of in-town jobs are in educational services. Johnson State College’s roots go back to Johnson Academy School, founded in 1828. Today, Johnson State College has approximately 1,950 students.
The Vermont Studio Center, a nonprofit, year-round, international creative community annually serving 600 artists and writers from across the country and around the world started in Johnson in 1984.
Photo credits: Jane Marshall (Lamoille River & Sterling Mountain); Lea Kilvadyova (Johnson Village)