Stuck in Vermont: Repointing the Chace Mill Smokestack With Two Men in a Basket Held Aloft by a Crane | Stuck in Vermont | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Stuck in Vermont: Repointing the Chace Mill Smokestack With Two Men in a Basket Held Aloft by a Crane 

Episode 702

Published November 16, 2023 at 7:30 a.m.

The Winooski Falls Mill District is known for its industrial history — the riverbanks are still lined with massive historic textile mills and towering smokestacks. In mid-October, the skyline on the Burlington side changed when a 175-foot-tall crane from Hutch Crane Service in Bradford moved in next to the Chace Mill’s iconic brick smokestack. Built in the early 1900s, the stack has been nonoperational for decades. Recently, falling bricks made repairs essential.

Jonathan Brownell and Will Devereux from White Falcon Solutions in Vergennes were hired by Redstone, the owner of the 90,000-square-foot Chace Mill, to repoint the bricks in the stack and make it waterproof. They did the work in a 4-foot-4-inch-square metal basket called a man basket, or a personnel basket. The metal box was held aloft by a cable attached to a 100,000-pound crane controlled by Rick Hutchins, who has been operating cranes for 38 years. The entire operation took a little over three weeks, with interruption from one brief snowstorm.

In her latest episode of "Stuck in Vermont," Seven Days senior multimedia producer Eva Sollberger caught a ride with the masons in their basket on a sunny afternoon. They squeezed lime mortar from a bag between the bricks’ joints and waited for it to dry before scraping off the excess. The entire time, the basket swayed in the breeze, about 135 feet in the air. The epic views of the Winooski River, the Champlain Mill, the Woolen Mill and the city of Winooski were worth the trip.

Filming date: 11/2/23

Music: E's Jammy Jams, “The Cascades”

This episode of Stuck in Vermont was supported by New England Federal Credit Union.


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About The Author

Eva Sollberger

Eva Sollberger

Seven Days senior multimedia producer Eva Sollberger has been making her award-winning video series, "Stuck in Vermont," since 2007. New episodes appear on the Seven Days website every other Thursday and air the following night on the WCAX evening news. Sign up at to receive an email alert each time a new one drops. And check these pages every other week for insights on the episodes.

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