Unlike other Vermont towns, Swanton counts its beginnings as far back as 6,000 BC, when Indians are thought to have camped at the site of John’s Bridge to hunt and fish. Swanton is believed to be the earliest area in Vermont to have been inhabited by humans. Archaeologists can confirm that Abenakis, who call themselves the People of the Dawn, were living here by 800 BC with 20 percent of its population being Abenaki. Swanton remains a center of Abenaki activity and culture.
Swanton was chartered in 1763, and the first permanent European settlers arrived in the late 1700s. From the beginning, it has been a center for transportation, first by water as sloops, and later, barges built in Swanton, carried limber, and later, the railroads. Even today, New England Central freight trains can be seen on the tracks that run on the east side of town.
The Swanton Historical Society is a local non-profit organization that collects and shares the full history of Swanton. Their museum is located just outside of the village on South River Street.
The Village of Swanton lies within Swanton Town, in northern Franklin County. Village of Swanton was incorporated on November 27,1888. To the west is Lake Champlain, to the east Interstate 89 followed by the foothills of the Green Mountains. The Missisquoi River runs through the village, with the historic, and controversial, Swanton Dam forming the signature Swanton Falls. The 6,600-acre Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge and the Maquam Waterfowl Area are within shouting distance.
The Village of Swanton is the town’s economic center and home to shops, the library, schools and a beautiful town green that is also home to a pair of “royal” swans, a gift from the Queen of England back in 1961. This bestowal was the brainstorm of a Montreal public relations man with a camp in Swanton, who wanted to do something to celebrate the town’s 1963 bicentennial. He arranged for a pair of swans to be sent from a naturalist trust in Norfolk, England with the Queen’s blessing, to Swanton, where they spent summers on the green and winters in a resident’s yard. While today’s swans aren’t the original (or even descended from them), Swanton still calls them the Royal Swans.
As of the 2000 Census, the population of the village was 2,548. The population of the surrounding town is 6,203 (including the village).