Grandma Moses: American Modern

What comes to mind when you think of Grandma Moses? Anna Mary Robertson Moses, known by her nickname Grandma Moses, was a renowned American folk artist. She lived most of her life in nearby New York, and was famous for her folk art paintings depicting rural life in the region. She’s also known for only starting to paint in earnest in her later years, around 75, during the 50’s. The New York Times said of her: “The simple realism, nostalgic atmosphere and luminous color with which Grandma Moses portrayed simple farm life and rural countryside won her a wide following. She was able to capture the excitement of winter’s first snow, Thanksgiving preparations and the new, young green of oncoming spring.”

With the exhibit Grandma Moses: American Modern the Bennington Museum has placed the charming rural works of Grandma Moses alongside other greats from the 50’s such as Helen Frankenthaler, Andy Warhol, and Joseph Cornell. This allows the viewer to see how each artist used their own unique styles to forge their identities in the Modern Art world. On top of the extensive permanent college at the Bennington Museum many other pieces have been loaned for the purposes of this exhibit, over 60 works are on display. The exhibit will be on view though November 5th.


Bennington, by Anna Mary Robertson Moses (Grandma Moses), 1945

North Bennington Outdoor Sculpture Show Better Than Ever 20 Years Later

For the past 20 years North Bennington has become one large outdoor display of fine art from July through October. Creative works are placed carefully around the Vermont Arts Exchange, the train station, local business’ lawns, and even some front yards. And it all began in association with the Bennington College, known for their prestigious Visual Arts programs.

It may have began with the college, but for the past few years the newest curator for the exhibit, Joe Chirchirillo, has been inviting artist far and wide to join the Show. The North Bennington Outdoor Sculpture Show (NBOSS) has become a local staple, expected by the community, and drawing in visitors to the area. The 2017 NBOSS features 32 pieces, and 10 artist new to the show this year. Bigger and better than ever there is something to appeal to everyone.

The Show is self-guided 24/7, you can find plaques resting at the base of each sculpture which will tell you the title of the piece and the artist, and a guide map and additional information can be picked up from the Vermont Arts Exchange. The 2017 NBOSS opened on July 8th and will continue until October 28th. You can locate the Vermont Arts Exchange at 48 Main Street in North Bennington.

Life's a Ball of Confusion by Lisa Barthelson

Life’s a Ball, of Confusion by Lisa Barthelson

Satellite Seed Pod Tower by Joe Chirchirillo

Satellite Seed Pod Tower by Joe Chirchirillo

Old castle Theatre is Bringing Classic Movies to Main Street

This winter take a trip down to Main Street to catch a movie in classic style. Starting January 2017 the Oldcastle Theatre company is planning to make good on their goals to bring more people downtown with their recent move to Main Street by hosing a Classic Movie Series. “One of our goals when we moved to Main Street was to keep the theatre as busy as possible,” according to Oldcastle’s Producing Artistic Director Eric Peterson. “We want to bring people downtown to stimulate nightlife so the streets will be filled folks shopping, dining in our many restaurants, enjoying the parks. Our series of music performances will continue during our theatre off-season and the addition of movies will be one more fun reason to visit downtown Bennington.”

Thursdays at 7 p.m. enjoy a special deal on ticket prices and experience some good old fashioned cinematography like it was originally intended to be seen, as a community event. The planned lineup includes favorites featuring Clarke Gable, Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, Charlie Chaplin, and more.

For more information visit www.OldcastleTheatre.org and click on their Other Events listings.

Bennington Battle Monument Celebrates 125TH

Before celebrating the 125th birthday of Vermont’s tallest man-made structure with some fun facts, let’s first explain why it is here. In 1777, British General John Burgoyne came down from Canada towards Saratoga to split the Colonies. Responding to Vermont’s plea for help, New Hampshire dispatched General John Stark with over 1000 militia to Vermont. Figuring that Burgoyne would run short out of supplies (e.g. food, ammunition) and try to capture the supply depot in Bennington (where the monument stands today), Stark brought his militia to Bennington to defend the supplies.

From his camp in northwest Bennington, Stark engaged the British on August 16, 1777 in the Battle of Bennington. It was a resounding American victory. Of the 1000 British (primarily Germans) sent, only a handful made it back to Burgoyne who without the supplies and loss of some of his best troops surrendered at Saratoga two months later resulting in the French entering the war on the American side.

The monument was built on the spot of the supplies the British never got, and was dedicated in 1891 by President Benjamin Harrison on the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Vermont becoming the 14th State.

The monument itself is 306’ 4 ½” tall, does not sway, and because it is on a hill it is higher than the Washington Monument. Abraham Lincoln’s son Robert Todd Lincoln could see the magnificent
monument from his home, Hildene, 22 miles away in Manchester.

The dramatic once a year changing of the
aviation light on top by the site administrator MaryLou Chicote is captured on a short Youtube video (go to Youtube.com then search Bennington Battle Monument GNAT-TV). Aviator Charles Lindbergh, on his celebration tour of the US in 1927, circled the monument several times in his “Spirit of Saint Louis” single engine plane.

John Stark’s statue is pointing to the west where the British were encamped not the rest rooms. Stark’s toast to the Battle of Bennington veterans “Live free or die” was adopted by NH after WWII as its motto.

The Mason influence is everywhere. Stark and Green Mountain Boy Seth Warner were Masons and the cornerstone and cap stone were placed with mason ritual.

The 2nd USS Bennington (a carrier) fought in the pacific in WWII and its bell is outside town hall. There is a smaller 75 foot monument at Fort Rosecrans Cemetery in San Diego honoring the first USS Bennington. The important Battle of Bennington has led to over 15 states having places named Bennington.

Be sure to visit the mass grave (British and Americans) in the Old First Church cemetery. The island in front of the church is where the 700 British(German) prisoners were brought.

Information can be found in a new exhibit inside the monument, at the Bennington Museum, and at the monument gift shop which is visited yearly by some 50,000 people. The monument staff is very knowledgeable about the battle and the monument.
For more information go to: www.benningtonbattlemonument.com

Northshire Bookstore Turns 40

In September of 2016, Northshire Bookstore, one of the Manchester’s most beloved independently owned businesses, celebrates its 40th anniversary.

Northshire Bookstore was established in 1976 by Ed and Barbara Morrow after they moved here from Westchester with their two young sons, Chris and Andy. They knew they were ready for a change so they left their jobs, and decided to embark upon their passion of owning their own bookstore. Complete novices to business ownership the Morrow’s had no idea what to expect, but the one thing they committed to right from the beginning was great customer service above all else.

The first store location occupied what was then the old Kimball/Martin Real Estate Building, and is now the Berkshire Bank in Manchester Center. This building housed not only Northshire Bookstore, but also the Morrow’s home.

Once open the Manchester community quickly embraced their new bookstore, making it a popular destination for area book lovers. Just one year later in 1977, the Morrows decided they needed more hands on deck and hired five staff members. The one area of the store that they found to be the most popular was the children’s department. It quickly became obvious that they were way under-inventoried in this area so they maximized every inch of space available to house more children’s merchandise. This, coupled with the fact that they had no space for back stock gradually led to an ever decreasing living space for the Morrow family.

In 1982, the old Coburn House which had been sitting unoccupied for nearly 2 years, went up for auction and Ed and Barbara agreed to buy it. In 1986, Northshire Bookstore reopened in the newly renovated Colburn House space allowing for a more spacious store and living space.

A short number of years after this move, the retail industry began rapidly changing with the explosion of malls across the U.S. as well as the emergence of some major retail box bookstores which all housed cafes. Although the Morrow’s business had changed and grown rapidly over a relatively short period of time they knew based on customer feedback that they either had to continue this growth or risk becoming stagnant. It was also at this time that Chris Morrow had returned home after studying overseas. Having made the decision to eventually take over the family business, Chris and his parents chose, once again, to expand the bookstore.

In 2003 the bookstore more than doubled to 10,000 square feet with a brand new addition that included a proper shipping and receiving department, an entire floor dedicated to children, many unique gifts, clothing, jewelry, spaces carved out specifically for author events and the addition of The Spiral Press Café.

In addition to a great assortment of books and gifts available the Northshire Bookstore also hosts several author events. According to Barbara Morrow; “Our author events have always played an important role in the success of the Northshire, connecting the role of the author to our love of the book. We have been extremely fortunate in being able to bring a wide range of nationally known authors, as well as – just as importantly – Vermont authors to share their work and experience, as writers.  Our very first author event was in the “old” store next to the Factory Point Bank, with beloved author John Gardner. He was incredibly generous in connecting with his audience, and that also made him such a great teacher.  

“Looking back over the years, we have hosted an amazing number of authors – adult authors, children’s authors, bestselling authors, first-time authors, local authors – and we have felt incredibly enriched by these wonderful author events.  Some of our favorite and most successful events in the early days were with Norman Mailer, Vermont Senator George Aiken, Gloria Steinem, Annie Proulx, Pat Conroy – who we spent a day with showing him the beauty of Vermont – and Stephen King, on his cross-country tour for Insomnia.  And there have been hundreds of others. The poetry events with Galway Kinnell, Billy Collins, Donald Hall, and Mary Oliver were some of the most memorable.  Beloved children’s authors such as Tomie dePaola, Barry Moser, and Katherine Paterson made multiple visits to the bookstore.

“Celebrating the Northshire Bookstore’s 40th year, and its wonderful history of books, authors, community, staff, and now the 2nd and even 3rd generation of bookselling, is a thrill and a privilege.  How many pursuits can be viewed as both vocation and avocation, being fed not only by passion, but also contributing to the enrichment of the mind.”

“This business is about community which takes many forms and encompasses many spheres.” Ed Morrow explained. “There is not only the community of the Northshire staff and of other booksellers all over the world, there is the publishing industry community and an extraordinary community of authors–unknown, famous, regional, national, most underpaid, some overpaid–continuing, in the face of staggering odds and ever-changing technologies, to write tens of thousands of books each year. 

“Most importantly, there is the community of readers–our patrons–which gives us our raison d’être. The only requirement for citizenship in this community is a love of books. We have become what we are because of the people who have chosen to make us part of their community over the years, and for that we are very grateful. 

“Since our expansion in 2003, we have truly become a physical community center. We are the meeting place for people coming to town. A bulletin board in our entryway is for posters announcing community events. Community organizations use our conference room, adjacent to our café, free of charge. The room is constantly booked with everyone from the local day care fundraising committee, to public speaking classes, to many writing groups. 

“Our events space is used by community cultural organizations for events of their own–we have had Robert Todd Lincoln’s historic estate Hildene conduct a history series here; the Vermont Beekeepers Association has held their monthly meeting here; the Green Mountain Academy for Lifelong Learning holds classes here. Local theatres hold pre-performance discussions in the Northshire Bookstore. 

“We are particularly pleased that local teens have found the bookstore (and café) an accepting place to gather, whether it is to meet after class, study for tests, do research for a paper, check email, get ideas for the one-act play festival, participate in a poetry slam or simply meet their parents.

“Our events program is a community service in itself. Through it, we offer the community enriching experiences well beyond inspired author appearances. Partnering with community organizations to hold events is an important component of our events programming – for instance, we partnered with the Orton Family Foundation, a land use planning non-profit, to bring former Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt to the bookstore to talk about land use in the context of the federal government. Additionally, we have been community leaders for decades–that, too, is part of the winning prescription for an independent bookstore, making Northshire Bookstore a cornerstone of the community, for residents and visitors alike.

“It has been a rich and, in many ways, a magical four decades, endeavoring to interlace the world of books into the diurnal activities of our community – a community that has unceasingly encouraged and coached us to reach further and more artfully into the cornucopia of author creativity to inspire, excite, inform, amuse and entertain. Responding to a caring community’s thirst for deeper draughts of the mind and soul connection that is the essence of books, the Northshire took shape into what it is today: the House of Books that Manchester and the Mountain communities built.

“We see this house as built of a very special brick. A brick forged in magical kilns. They are called books. But we mean books in the codex format, ink on paper. This distinction became necessary about half-way through the Northshire’s journey and has even more importance today. For, while the essence of a book is intangible–a captured set of ideas and creativity of an author blending with the creative interpretation inspired in its reader–the means of its transmission is increasingly being recognized as critically important.

“The need to disconnect, to unplug; the need to rechcarge, to reconnect with our human essence; the imperative of balance, of groundedness, of thinking deeply, all speak to the human scale aspect of the book as found in the Northshire. It is my belief that our community instinctively recognizes this and will support the Northshire through another 40 years–which we hope may be curated by our granddaughters.”

Chris Morrow added; “A good bookstore is part of the cultural foundation of its community. Bookstores tend to be owned and staffed by people who care about the quality of their daily lives, about the social setting in which they work, and about how they can have a positive effect on the cultural fabric of their community. Irrepressible, old-dog bookseller David Schwartz said it best. “Bookselling …is a search for a community of values which can act as an underpinning of a better world.

“Ever since our opening day we have focused on exceeding our customers’ expectations. By creating a unique and inviting space, by filling it with well-chosen titles, and by having excellent booksellers, the right books land in the right set of hands at the right time. All of our efforts revolve around this simple aspiration of creating magic.

So thank you to all the folks in Manchester and the Mountains, to our fellow booksellers, to publishers, to authors and to readers across the globe. Read on…”

Fall In Love With The Shires

Don’t be surprised if you look up and see people jumping out of planes this year. Green Mountain Skydiving has come to Bennington.

Officially open at the Morse State Airport in Bennington, VT, Green Mountain Skydiving offers Tandem Skydiving, (AFF) Instruction, and fun jumps for licensed skydivers from early April through November. From altitude we enjoy incredible views of Vermont, New York and Massachusetts including the Green Mountains, Taconics, and Adirondacks spreading to the horizons. It’s an incredibly beautiful place to skydive. Jumpers must be at least 18 years of age and be in relatively good health. Over the years we’ve jumped with individuals aged 18 to 89 from every walk of life and background. In the air we’re all the same: big smiles, lots of screaming and of course an unspoken common guilt of, “what the heck is wrong with me” to want to jump out of a plane.

Following a picturesque twenty minute plane ride, participants jump from nearly two miles above the ground. First timers jump securely attached to an experienced instructor who stays with them every step of the way. You basically jump, free-fall for 40- 50 seconds, open the parachute and fly gently under canopy for 5-7 minutes before landing in a 400,000 square foot grass field next to the runway.

Green Mountain Skydiving specializes in first time and infrequent skydivers allowing us to cater to the individual needs and desires of each and every guest. Some visitors are looking to merely check skydiving off their bucket list and prefer a nice steady jump. Others, however, are looking for the wildest adventure possible and prefer flips out of the plane and spins under canopy. For the most part, whatever you want, we can make happen, although, you cannot jump naked through a lightning storm strapped to someone wearing a wing-suit carrying your iPhone so you can get it all on film. Sounds like a great video but there are limits to what we can do!

What we can do is take you out of a plane at 120 mph, and after the parachute opens, give you the toggles and let you fly until 1,000’ above the ground. After that, your instructor takes over to land the parachute safely. The euphoria lasts a few hours, the grin, a couple days, and the sense of achievement and bragging rights, a lifetime.

Skydiving has come a long way from the first sketches by da Vinci as far back as 1495 and further still from the military rounds of a mere 25 years ago. Today, jumpers use steerable canopies that allow them to fly and land safely in a spot of their choosing. Modern equipment includes not only main and backup parachutes, but, an automatic activation device that electronically deploys the reserve parachute in the event of an emergency.

We have a blast every day, but safety is always our number one priority. Green Mountain Skydiving uses only the latest in technology and techniques, the best gear available and only highly experienced instructors. The owner/operator of GMS has done more than 4,800 skydives, safely introducing thousands of individuals to the adventure of skydiving. Even after thousands of jumps, I’m still a little nervous every time I get to the door of the plane. Frankly, that’s what makes it fun, but more than that it keeps us safe.

We are open for appointments Wednesday through Monday, April through early November. Come out to make a skydive, watch, or just say hello: we love meeting people and sharing our joy of skydiving with anyone who will listen. Once you have jumped out of a plane the world is never the same. You realize you can conquer any fear and there’s a little Hollywood action hero in all of us. Find us at GreenMountainSkydiving.com, on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Google +, or any other social media under Green Mountain Skydiving.

The Bennington

In addition to the beautiful scenery of Southwestern Vermont and the unique fall foliage that the area is known for, visitors can also appreciate these views and images as seen through the eyes of some of the best artists in the country.

Impressions of New England is just one of the temporary fine art exhibitions on view at The Bennington, one of the country’s finest art galleries. Landscapes, seascapes and still-lifes selected by the staff make up this show while in another gallery a national competition, the Laumeister Fine Art Competition, offers a more varied collection of art, both two and three-dimensional, but still in a representational style. Small Works are on view in the lobby and as with the other two shows, all work is for sale. The center’s permanent collection of Native American art, bird carvings, Eric Sloane paintings and wildlife art is also on exhibit through the fall.

For those who have made the journey to the area to experience the many covered bridges, their trip wouldn’t be complete without a stop at The Bennington’s Covered Bridge Museum. Many photographs, maps, historical information, stories, models, tools and construction techniques are displayed in this structure, built to resemble a covered bridge. A video serves as a great introduction to the iconic structures. Whether one wants a brief overview or an in depth education, there is something for everyone at the museum.

The Bennington is located just west of Bennington on Vermont Route 9 at 44 Gypsy Lane. Seven art galleries and the Covered Bridge Museum are open to the public every day but Tuesday. 802-442-7158 www.TheBennington.org

People/Place: American Social Landscape Photography, 1950-1980

In a collaborative effort Bennington Museum and Bennington College have selected photographs from the portfolios of Jonathan Brand, John Hubbard, Neil Rappaport, Garry Winogrand, and Lee Friedlander, to present a very special exhibition entitled People/Place: American Social Landscape Photography, 1950-1980. “Each of these photographers explores the human condition within the public sphere, the social landscape. Careful framing and split second timing are key aspects of their practice, and we have selected a wide range of their best work,” states Jonathan Kline, Faculty Member at Bennington College and his students. Combining these photographs to create an exhibit of wordless literature is an effort made by the College and Museum to link themselves as one, share photographs from separate archives, and allow visitors to enjoy the exhibit as a community.

Jonathan Brand’s journey In October 1967, from Manhattan’s Upper West Side to Bennington, Vermont was fully documented in black and white images by Brand. He shot approximately 45-50 rolls of film in three days. Images from the series include gleaming new gas stations and rusty old cars, interiors of the Paradise Motel and a diner on West Main Street, portraits of family members and candid shots of people on the street. He photographed tourists visiting the Bennington Battle Monument, and people viewing displays at an antique show, monks at the monastery at the Everett Mansion and policemen perched on stools at a luncheonette counter, and daughters Ulrika dancing in a yard and Jenny asleep in her stroller. Over one thousand images were taken, and in 2010, 174 were donated to the Bennington Museum.

While John Hubbard’s photographs vividly capture the people of Bennington as they worked and played 35-40 years ago, they too reflect his personal vision, offering glimpses into the lesser-known social aspects of the town. As a young, socially conscious man living in Vermont in the early 1970s, many of his images depict young progressive types including artists, craftspeople and back-to-the-landers. Added to these are portraits of older people.

Neil Rappaport lived and worked in Pawlet, Vermont for nearly thirty years. He was a self-taught photographer who established the photography program at Bennington College, where he served on the faculty from 1970 – 1997. Around 1979, Rappaport began taking students from his Advanced Photography class on field projects into the communities that surrounded the college. Here they were to make a visual record of what they saw as Rappaport taught them “how to find subject,” and put themselves in environments that were new to them. He taught them how to let the camera be the bridge to the subject. These photographs, over 165 of them and all anonymous, became a “Bennington Visual Census,” providing a glimpse at life in Bennington in the late 1970s.

Although Garry Winogrand and Lee Friedlander rarely travelled through southern Vermont, they are both known as the most influential American street photographers of the second half of the 20th century. Winogrand’s spontaneous images of everyday life frequently incorporate unusual camera angles along with implausible configurations of people within his viewfinder. Friedlander is best known for complicating the viewing experience by the use of reflections and shadows, and using street signs and windows as framing devices. Both address issues of fragmentation, alienation, and the wonder of the everyday.

Participants from Bennington College included students Michael Ash, Iris Bennett, Amelia Bois-Rioux, Rocco Farano, Cassandra Langtry, Abby Mahler, Nathaniel Miller, Nathan Paul, Hannajane Prichett and faculty member Jonathan Kline. They, along with Jamie Franklin, curator at the Bennington Museum curated and installed this exhibition. People/Place: American Social Landscape Photography, 1950-1980 will be on view at Bennington Museum from August 15 through November 8.

The Legend of Grandma Moses

The Bennington Museum is home to the largest public collection of paintings by Anna Mary Robertson Moses (1860-1961). Better known as Grandma Moses, the artist was catapulted to international fame during the 1940s as the result of her charming, naïvely executed, yet animated paintings of rural America. Her work is a combination of fact-based history and her own memories. As with many of her paintings, The Battle of Bennington depicts a historic event created in the artist’s unique visual style and personal associations. Fought only a few miles from where the artist lived most of her life, the Revolutionary War battle was an event of significant local lore. Moses blended her own artistic touch with facts, so it was not surprising when asked in an interview why the Bennington Battle Monument was in this painting even though it wasn’t built for more than a century after the battle, her response was, “Well, I put the monument in because it looked good, I guess.”

Growing up in rural, upstate New York, in a family that embraced the arts, Moses was surrounded by the decorative, stylized work of self-taught and amateur artists and “popular” art, such as the prints of Currier and Ives. Moses’ own work springs directly from these popular, centuries-old traditions. Popular printed sources served as inspiration for self-taught artists for centuries, and Moses was no exception. It was also common among folk artists of all periods to share their artistic talents with family members and pass along their gift to younger generations. Anna Mary’s own father, Russell King Robertson, was an amateur painter who encouraged his young daughter, and her brothers, to paint. In her autobiography Moses notes, “He liked to see us draw pictures.” Many members of the Moses Family took up painting as both a hobby and a vocation after seeing the success Grandma garnered.

Grandma Moses History
On September 7, 1860, Anna Mary Robertson was born into a farming family in Greenwich, a small upstate New York community just thirty miles from Bennington, Vt.   Her father, Russell King Robertson, was a farmer, operated a flax mill, and was also an amateur painter. At twelve, Anna Mary went to work as a “hired girl” on a neighboring farm. After fifteen years of this type of work, at the age of 27, she met a “hired man,” Thomas Salmon Moses, and they married. Hearing that the South was a land of opportunity, on their wedding day they boarded a train and headed for North Carolina. Their trip was shortened, however, in Staunton, Virginia, where they had stopped for a night.  Here they were persuaded to take over as tenants for a local farm. Anna Mary loved the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley, and they and their children stayed there until 1905 when they returned to New York.  They bought a farm in Eagle Bridge naming it “Mt. Nebo” after the Biblical mountain where Moses disappeared. In 1927, Thomas Moses died of a heart attack on this farm.

Anna Mary Moses did not sit idle as she tended to the work on the farm. In 1932, she went to Bennington to care for her daughter Anna, who was suffering from tuberculosis. It was Anna who challenged her mother to duplicate a yarn-embroidered picture. Anna Mary Robertson Moses began stitching, but when arthritis struck, it became increasingly difficult for Moses to do needlework. Her sister suggested painting instead, which was the very beginning of Grandma Moses’ career. 

In 1936 or ’37, Moses was asked to contribute a painting to a women’s exchange. After setting in the drugstore window for over a year, her painting caught the eye of a New York City collector, Louis Caldor. He enjoyed seeking out native “artistic” finds during his travels, and purchased that one painting from the window, as well as every Moses’ painting the drugstore had. He obtained Moses’ name and address, and went to meet her. For the next few years, Caldor’s attempts to interest museums and galleries in New York with her art were rebuffed.  It was appreciated and admired, but learning of the artist’s age, 88, the dealers felt they could never reap a profit on their investment. Caldor persisted, and in 1939 three of Moses paintings were included in an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art.  Open only to museum members, this show had no immediate impact on Grandma’s career.

In 1940, Caldor visited the Galerie St. Etienne, which had been recently founded by Otto Kallir, a Viennese émigré.  The gallery specialized in modern Austrian masters but Kallir was also interested in the work of self-taught painters because it was believed to be “purer” and “more original” than that of trained painters.  As such an artist, Anna Mary Robertson Moses made her public debut at the Galerie St. Etienne in October 1940. Only garnering modest success, this show was followed by a Thanksgiving festival organized by Gimbels Department Store in which many of Moses’ painting were put on view. “Grandma” traveled to New York, delivered a public talk on jams and preserved fruits, and won over the hardened New York press corps.  The legend of Grandma Moses was finally born.

Moses became a local celebrity.  She had exhibitions at upstate New York venues and was sought out by vacationers who wanted her works as souvenirs. After several years of struggling to manage the seasonal tourist business, she agreed to let Galerie St. Etienne and the American British Art Center act as her exclusive representatives.  These entities launched a series of traveling exhibitions that brought Grandma Moses to more than thirty U.S. states and ten European countries.  Her celebrity status grew both nationally and internationally. What followed was nothing short of a rags-to-riches story of this elderly painter. 

In 1946, Kallir edited the first monograph on the artist, Grandma Moses: American Primitive, and oversaw the licensing of the first Moses Christmas cards. The following year the book was reprinted and the greeting card license taken over by Hallmark. In 1949, Moses received a special award from President Truman, and the following year, a documentary film on her life was nominated for an Academy Award. Her autobiography, My Life’s History, was published in 1952. Traveling exhibitions, books and greeting cards, posters, drapery fabrics, china plates, and more were now enjoyed by people around the world. Grandma was able to broadcast from her home in Eagle Bridge to the larger world, and the rare use of color television allowed her paintings to be shown during her interview with Edward R. Murrow in 1955. As proof of the adage “it’s never too late,” Grandma continued to be featured on the cover of publications like Life and Time magazines.  In 1960, in celebration of her 100th birthday, “Grandma Moses Day” was declared by New York’s governor, Nelson Rockefeller. Yet another celebration took place a year later when she turned 101, but it was during that year that she passed away on December 13, 1961, which became front page news all over America and throughout much of Europe.

Jane Stickle and Her 1863 Quilt

From August 30 through October 12 the quilt that inspires quilters all over the world will be on its yearly display at the Bennington Museum. Brought to the museum 60 years ago, the Jzane Stickle Quilt is only shown for a short time each year due to the fragility of the fabric. Quilters from around the country, and world, plan trips to the region during that time to see the 1863 quilt. The Jane Stickle Quilt is comprised of 169 five-inch blocks, each in different patterns, containing a remarkable total of 5,602 pieces surrounded by a unique scalloped border. The Jane Stickle Quilt can be viewed with regular museum admission.
Jane Stickle was born Jane Blakely on April 8, 1817 in Shaftsbury, Vermont. Married to Walter Stickle sometime before 1850, they did not have a family of their own. They did, however, take responsibility for at least three other children in the area. In an 1860’s census, Jane Stickle was listed as a 43 year-old farmer living alone. She eventually reunited with her husband, but during that time alone, she lovingly created what is now known as the Jane Stickle Quilt. As a reminder of the turbulent times the country was going through, she carefully embroidered “In War Time 1863” into the quilt.

From Presidents to Pollinators It’s Summer at Hildene, the Lincoln Family Home!

The guest experience at Hildene begins at the Welcome Center where visitors get a glimpse of all that Hildene’s mission: Values into Action encompasses, access information on its venues, walking trails, and transportation. Introductory films focus on the history of the family and restoration of the 1903 Pullman Palace car, Sunbeam.

The tour of Robert and Mary Lincoln’s home brings the family’s story to life. Robert built Hildene in 1905, during his tenure as president of the Pullman Company. Home to three generations of Lincoln descendants, it is here that Robert’s famous father, Abraham Lincoln is honored in a thought provoking exhibit: “The American Ideal: Abraham Lincoln and The Second Inaugural” which includes one of only three of Abe’s iconic stovepipes in existence.

A visit to the home includes the family’s formal garden bounded by the Taconic and Green Mountains, with the Battenkill running through the valley below. The setting was inspiration for the name Hildene which means “hill and valley with stream.” Jessie, President Lincoln’s granddaughter, designed the formal garden to resemble a stained glass window as a gift to her mother, Mary Lincoln, in 1907. Late May through mid-June it is abloom with more than 1,000 peony blossoms. Summer to fall, the floral hues are provided by perennials. This is only one of the estates’ many lovely gardens.
A short walk from the house, is the meticulously restored 1903 wooden Pullman car, Sunbeam, and the provocative exhibit “Many Voices” which focuses on social history filled with paradox. The early leaders of the Pullman Company (George Pullman and Robert Lincoln), privileged passengers, black porters, and people who experience it today, are the “Many Voices.” Set against a timeline that spans the 100 years between President Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation and the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington, its content provides a platform for civil civic discourse and places Hildene on the Vermont African American Heritage Trail.

The family’s agricultural legacy is honored at both levels of Hildene Farm. At the goat dairy and cheese-making facility, guests discover a 21st century solar powered barn where the cheese-making is publically viewed and where they interact with the farm environment and the Nubian goats in residence.

The 200 acres below the home in the Dene, bear testimony to an emerging agricultural and educational project that includes construction of a state of the art teaching greenhouse and a compost facility. The Dene, accessible by walking, riding the tram or a once a day wagon is where guests experience the farm, learn about songbird habitat and pollinator sanctuary initiatives and traverse the bordering wetland on a 600’ floating boardwalk.

Visits usually end as they started… at The Welcome Center where guests can taste Hildene artisanal cheeses in The Museum Store and choose items from heirloom peony seeds to a Lincoln book as a reminder of their Hildene experience.

Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home is as much about the future as it is about the past. Open daily, year round from 9:30 to 4:30. For more information visit www.hildene.org or like us on Facebook.

Celebrating a tradition of the arts in Bennington

After two successful years in Bennington, the Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival is once again returning to Camelot Village in Bennington July 31, August 1 & 2. 150 artists and artisans will display and sell their own handcrafted creations. The artists and artisans will be housed in Camelot style tents. In addition to the arts and crafts, there will be a Kids Zone, a food court, music, comic juggling, and Vermont Craft Beers.

Bennington was without a major craft show since the American Crafts Council departed Mount Anthony High School in 1972. In 2013 Craftproducers brought its famous Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival to Bennington. This event had been held at Hildene in Manchester for nearly 30 years. When Hildene announced that its Meadows would be converted into agricultural pasture land, Craftproducers was left without a venue for its summer show as well as the Manchester Fall Art and Craft Festival. As Necessity is often the Mother of Invention, Craftproducers listened to the overtures of the Bennington community and decided to move the Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival there. Manchester’s loss became Bennington’s gain. Craftproducers Fall Manchester event was successfully moved to The Practice Tee at Riley Rink in 2013.

Now in its third year in Bennington, word has gotten out among the artists and artisans. “Bennington is back!” Seemingly, memories of the former craft show in Bennington remain vividly alive. Even after 40 years the craft community still remembers the original craft market. The public has come out in droves and avidly bought an abundance of craftworks. With such stellar sales, the grapevine spread the news. While the Festival has enjoyed an auspicious start, unless there is continued public support, the exhibitors will turn to more lucrative shows in larger markets.
Many Bennington organizations are helping to create Bennington Arts Weekend, built around the Art/Craft Festival. On Friday July 31, Better Bennington Corporation has many activities planned. Under the umbrella of Bennington Arts Weekend, festivities will take place all around downtown Friday evening, July 31. Several galleries, the Masonic Temple, and the Village Chocolate Shoppe will take part. On Saturday there will be a Craft of Home Brewing Competition at Four Corners North at the intersection of County and North Streets from noon until 4PM. A free shuttle bus will run between the Art/Craft Festival and the Competition during those hours. Other Bennington Arts Weekend events will be announced before July 18.

The Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival is hosted at Camelot Village, also home of the Southern Vermont Garlic Festival. Camelot Village is worth a visit on its own. It is a sprawling multi-leveled barn full of antiques, collectibles, and furniture. The Festival is located on their lawns and pathways. There is a lovely food court under the shade of tall maple trees where picnic tables are available. A dining tent with tables and chairs provides shelter for eating lunch and listening to the live music. There is a different musical act daily.

What’s a Festival without great food? This one will deliver delicious choices: falafel, chicken wraps, steak sandwiches, Chinese dumplings, sesame noodles, Greek salad, sausage, pepper, and onion sandwiches, French fries, espresso and lattes, lemonade, ice cream, hamburgers and hot dogs, and ramen soup. An assortment of Vermont craft beers will be served as well as a selection of summertime wines.

The Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival will be held July 31, August 1 & 2 at Camelot Village, 66 Colgate Heights, on Route 9, a little over a mile west of the Intersection of Routes 7 and 9 in downtown Bennington. The Festival is open 10-5 on Friday and Saturday and 10-4 on Sunday. Adult admission is $8 and children are free. Rain or shine- under tents. No dogs, please. For more information and the latest details, visit www.craftproducers.com

On a Road ‘less-traveled’ with Robert Frost

Robert Frost spent the second half of his life in Vermont. He came to live in South Shaftsbury, Vermont in 1920, “where if we have any money left after repairing the roof, I mean to plant a thousand apple trees of some ‘unforbidden’ variety.” He called his home “The Stone House,” today called the Robert Frost Stone House Museum located on VT Route 7A, now known as the Shires of Vermont Byway, perhaps a road less traveled but sure to make a difference to visitors to this lovely region of Vermont.

The house is one of the oldest in Shaftsbury built in 1769 of native stone, which is a geologic mixture of limestone and marble. It is rough hewn as Frost described, “pretty much the way it flaked off out of the quarry.” The house was used as a tavern during the American Revolution. The stone is almost two feet thick and the wide pine plank floors are original to the house.
Frost wrote “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” in the dining room of the house on a hot June morning in 1922. He brought out several books of poetry while living in Shaftsbury and won three of his four Pulitzer Prizes. His biographer called it “The Years of Triumph.” Along with the triumphs also came tragedy. Frost’s daughter Marjorie died in 1934 of childbirth and his beloved wife Elinor died in 1938 of a heart attack. Frost wrote to a friend, “She has been the unspoken half of everything I ever wrote.”

The Robert Frost Stone House is arranged with educational exhibits that make you feel as if you met the poet. The story of his life and poetry is displayed along with some of his family furnishings. “It’s a house of literature, not furniture,” says director and founder Carole Thompson. “The most interesting things about Frost are his ideas and the poetry. He lived very simply.” The dining room where he wrote “Stopping by Woods,” is completely devoted to the poem: the story of how it was written, a facsimile of the original manuscript, analysis of the rhyme and meter, a controversial comma, what the critics said and what Frost said.

You can find more about Robert Frost and the Stone House Museum at www.frostfriends.org. Open May 1 through October 31, Wednesday through Sunday; closed Monday and Tuesday. 10 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

We suggest an hour for your visit. Admission is charged. The museum has a small bookshop that sells books, posters, CDs and other Frostiana. Phone: (802) 447-6200.

Discover Golfing at the Mt. Anthony Country Club Introduce your family to the game of golf!

Mt Anthony is a year-round public family destination offering the Bennington community a recently renovated top quality 18 hole course, within a beautiful scenic Vermont terrain overlooking the Green Mountains in the heart of historic Old Bennington.

The Club house’s restaurant The GRILLE at Mt. Anthony offers Lunch and Dinner every day plus Brunch on Sundays. At this time of the year the Club’s Banquet Rooms are busy with Weddings, Anniversaries, Proms and all kinds of celebrations. This is best time to enjoy all the amenities this public property offers is during the summer wether you golf or not but during the winter you can cross country ski or snow show with groomed trails if mother nature provides sufficient snow. The Club’s Pool is a wonderful destination to cool off after golf or work and a popular site for kids birthday parties.

If you are ready for golf our PGA Professional Kevin Bennison can create a customized program for you and your family to teach or reconnect you to the game. We offer a GOLF Family package this summer that includes a 1.5 hour golf lesson, a $10 lunch voucher per person and 9 holes with cart for $80 plus tax per person. Minimum of 4 is required and we encouraged groups of 8. These lessons will be given on the practice range including driving, putting and some on course instruction.

If you just want to relax and enjoy a beautiful day by the pool then take advantage of our POOL Family package then jump in the pool and stay for lunch. This package is $25 per day plus tax.
For those of you looking for a scenic venue to host your wedding or event, then you should contact us for a tour of our facilities. Besides being conveniently located in Southwestern Vermont, we have a stunning picture perfect backdrop with 110 pristine acres overlooking the Green Mountains. We create amazing everlasting memories of your special day. Take a peek at our wedding gallery on our website to see what we are talking about. Our professional wedding planners will ensure every detail is taken care of so you can focus on enjoying your wedding.

For more information please contact Mt. Anthony Country Club at 802-442-2617 or visit their website www.mtanthonycc.com or facebook page
https://www.facebook.com/mount.anthony
(See also our ads on pages 4 and 5.)

Sarah Hall Weaver Named SVAC’s Director of Galleries and Development

Jennifer Weinstein, Executive Director of the Southern Vermont Arts Center, has announced the appointment of Sarah Hall Weaver to the post of Director of Galleries and Development.

A graduate of Alfred University, Sarah was most recently the Assistant Director of the National Museum of Dance in Saratoga Springs, NY where her responsibilities included curating permanent and rotating exhibitions, designing arts programming and events, marketing, and development.

Throughout her career she has curated dozens of exhibitions including large scale collective exhibits like the Mr. & Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney Hall of Fame and a permanent display honoring Jewish World War II veterans as well as many projects showcasing singular artists.

Hall Weaver was in part selected on the basis of a mutual appreciation for artists and artworks of all variety – something SVAC seeks to offer inside and out. “From my first drive up the hill I knew SVAC was a special place. There are opportunities here – for artists of all backgrounds to display their work and for visitors to find fine art that truly impacts them. The opportunity for me to bring artist and audience together is an absolute privilege,” said Sarah. “The Arts Center has endless potential. It has an incredible campus, an impressive history, and a very promising future. I am deeply honored to join the staff and am looking forward to welcoming our artists.”

The Southern Vermont Arts Center is off West Road (930 SVAC Drive) in Manchester, Vermont. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday 10 am to 5 pm, Sunday noon to 5 pm. For more information, call 362-1405 or email info@svac.org. Visit any time at svac.org.

New Home for Komen Vermont-New Hampshire

After a dozen or so years or so on Bonnet Street, in Manchester, Vermont, Komen Vermont-New Hampshire has relocated its offices across town to 1009 Depot Street, above Women and Children’s Services of Southern Vermont, in Manchester Depot.

“The folks from the Northshire Bookstore, our former landlord, and the Counsell family before them, have been great to us from the start,” said Becky Burke, Komen VT-NH’s President. “More than generous.”

Carol Munson, the organization’s long-time Affiliate Coordinator, gave a rundown of past “offices.” “Our original office space, if you could call it that, was on the second-floor landing of the Zion Church’s Parish Hall stairway, where we shared a printer with Vermont Reading Partners,” said Munson.

“A few years later, thanks to the generosity of Merrick Counsell, we moved into the small apartment above his family business, Briggs Fowler Insurance, at 21 Bonnet Street. The building was eventually sold to the Northshire Bookstore, we stayed, Briggs Fowler moved out, Spiral Scoops moved in, and now we’re heading off to our first real office space.”

“The new location is a great fit for us,” said Terry Farkas, Komen VT-NH’s Executive Director. “Women and Children’s Services of Southern Vermont is a pediatrician, Dr. Donna Miller, and Dr. Glen MacKenzie, who’s an OB/GYN. Our missions dovetail nicely. Beyond that, our new space is beautiful, very sunny, and there’s lots of parking – we’d love for people to drop by to say hello!”

For more information about Komen Vermont-New Hampshire, visit online at www.komenvtnh.org or call 888-550-CURE.

Race for the Cure Celebrates 22 Years At Hildene

The 2014 Komen Vermont Race for the Cure®, on September 20, will be the 22nd race held at Hildene Meadows, in Manchester Vermont. After this year’s race, Komen will be folding its tents and heading for new digs in the Manchester area as the Meadows is soon to be returned to its original agricultural use. Now’s the time to enjoy this beautiful Battenkill Valley course, dotted with farmhouses and grazing horses, one more time.

“We have always been proud to host the Race. It’s meant a lot to us to be able to give of ourselves for such a worthy cause,” said Seth Bongartz, Hildene’s president. “We’ve also always known that we wanted to bring the entire Hildene property under our mission umbrella, but we wanted to have the Race here as long as possible, until we truly needed the land. And we’ve now reached that point.”

“It’s been a pleasure,” added Bongartz. “The Race has been a good partner and we part ways with fond memories.”

“Hildene has been nothing but gracious and accommodating during our long association,” said Becky Burke, Komen VT-NH’s president. “In fact, I suspect they’ve let us stay on for a few years beyond when they really wanted to return the land to its original use. I really can’t say enough good things about Hildene.”

Terry Farkas, Komen VT-NH’s executive director, sees the upcoming move as a new beginning. “We’re all fortunate to live in such a beautiful corner of such a beautiful state. We have options, which is great. We’ve been talking with land owners and visiting potential race sites throughout the Manchester area. We’ll narrow down our choices and will make the announcement as soon as we can.”

“The site’s important, absolutely,” added Burke. “But it’s not the main thing. The folks who come to the Race – the ‘lifers’ who come year after year and the first-timers alike – come because they’re passionate about fighting breast cancer. Remember, 75% of all the money raised at the Race underwrites breast cancer education, screening and treatment programs in Vermont and New Hampshire. Earlier this year we were able to grant $350,000 to 11 breast health organizations in the two states. The remaining 25% went to breast cancer research. That’s what it’s all about. That’s the main thing.”

Get more information and register for the Race at www.komenvtnh.org. For more information on Susan G. Komen for the Cure, breast health or breast cancer, visit www.komen.org or call 1-877 GO KOMEN.

“A Must Fall Stop” – The New York Times

For thirty-five years, the amazing pumpkin patch at the Equinox Valley Nursery has been a favorite stop for folks during the fall harvest season.

Jump on a wagon ride, explore the crazy maze, or grab your camera and check out the more than 300 whimsical scarecrow displays.

There is also a huge selection of mums, gourds, indian corn, straw bales, squash, and cornstalks for your fall decorating inspiration.

Aptly named “The Best Pumpkin Patch” by Vermont Life Magazine, you can pick from hundreds of pumpkins of different sizes and shapes.

Speaking of pumpkins, don’t miss the “Official” Vermont State Pumpkin Carving Day on October 17th, a day filled with fun activities and contests! Perfect for families with kids.

But don’t go hungry! You can grab a dozen hot cider donuts made fresh right in front of you. Try some pumpkin ice cream, or homemade pumpkin bread, and be sure to get extra to bring home with you for family and friends.

The Equinox Valley Nursery is located on Route 7A (The Shires of Vermont Byway) in Manchester, VT, just two miles south of the Equinox Hotel. For more information, call 802-362-2610, or visit www.equinoxvalleynursery.com

Lakes, Quarries, and Swimming Holes

Best way to beat the heat in summer is to head to your nearest water hole and jump in! For small kids I recommend Lake Shaftsbury State Park with it’s wide sandy beach suitable for castle building, large shallow end, and snack bar. Nice facilities, picnic areas, boat rentals, and grills. Fee charged. No lifeguard.

For later in the summer as things heat up, you may prefer Lake Paran in North Bennington. This lake is deeper and stays refreshingly cold. A small fee is charged. Snack bar, facilities, and a lifeguard. For a more adult experience, my favorite spot is the Dorset Quarry on Route 30 in Dorset. NOT for children, this very deep quarry is ringed by cliffs and is an amazing, beautiful place to swim. No facilities, no conveniences, and no charge.

Another place to cool off is in the Roaring Branch River, on Route 9, east of Bennington. Park along the highway (on the south side, or your right coming from Bennington), after you see the sign for the National Forest. A series of informal trails lead to a number of shallow swimming holes along the river. River temperatures range from frigid in the early summer to cold in the late summer. Not for very small children, but a fun experience for elementary age children with adult supervision. This is on National Forest lands and there are no facilities, no fees, and you are expected to pack out whatever you pack in.

Rockwell’s Arlington Models Reunion

by Susan Strano

During Bennington Arts Weekend (August 1-3), models who posed for Norman Rockwell while he lived in Arlington, Vermont (1939-1953) will gather at the Bennington Museum for their annual reunion. Taking place on Saturday, August 2, this event is free to all Bennington County residents and open to the general public with regular admission. The reunion brings together many of the over 60 models who posed for Rockwell during the Arlington years. The day includes an introduction by Jamie Franklin, curator at the Bennington Museum, sessions with models who will share their experiences, and a presentation by Matthew Miele, Founder/President of Quixotic Endeavors Film Company who talks about his upcoming film entitled “Our Neighbor, Norman,” based on the book, The Unknown Rockwell, by Buddy Edgerton and Nan O’Brien.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of Rockwell’s move to Arlington, VT where he made his home until his move to Stockbridge, Massachusetts in 1953. By 1939, Rockwell was an accomplished artist and illustrator, acknowledged as one of Americas most recognized illustrators for the Saturday Evening Post. However, it was his time in Arlington that was his most prolific. According to Rockwell, one reason he liked Arlington was that it “swarms with American types. I’m very comfortable with the local people.”

While in Arlington, Rockwell painted some of his most famous Saturday Evening Post covers including The Marble Shooter, The Babysitter, The Four Freedoms, Coming and Going, Shuffleton’s Barber Shop, The Gossip, Saying Grace, and “the Four Freedoms.” His last painting in Arlington was Breaking Home Ties. (Completed in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.)

Some of the models expected to attend this year’s reunion include Ruth McLenithan Skellie, Marble Shooter; Melinda Pelham and Lucille Towne Holton, The Babysitter; Mary Doyle Keefe, Rosie the Riveter; Mary Whalen Leonard, A Day in the Life of a Girl; Chuck Marsh, A Day in the Life of a Boy; Ann Brush Mason, Family Doctor; Clarence Decker, Going and Coming; Donald Hubert, Saying Grace; and Buddy Edgerton, Growth of a Leader.

Bennington Museum is located at 75 Main Street, Bennington. VT. Visit the www.benningtonmuseum.org or call 802-447-1571 for more information.

Photos Courtesy of Buddy Edgerton.

Oil Painters of America Exhibit and Art of the Animal Kingdom

The Oil Painters of America (OPA) will hold its 23rd National Juried Exhibition of Traditional Oils at The Bennington Center for the Arts, June 7 – July 27, 2014. Artists, collectors and art enthusiasts will find an unparalleled collection of traditional oil paintings representative of the high quality of work being produced by professional oil painters today. An opening reception will be held for artists, collectors, the public and press on Saturday, June 7 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

OPA’s membership is comprised of 3,400 artists from across the United States, Canada and Mexico. Over the years, OPA’s National Exhibition has garnered a reputation for being one of the premier art shows in the country receiving just over 2,000 submissions each year for consideration. Of those, only two hundred artists are selected to be a part of this exhibition. Total awards for this year’s National Exhibition are expected to exceed $75,000, including a $25,000 Gold Medal award.

The public is invited to view these exceptional works of art throughout the exhibition period. All pieces in the exhibition are for sale. Gallery will be open every day but Tuesday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is requested.

In addition, painting demonstrations and other educational events will take place throughout the opening weekend beginning Wednesday, June 4 through Sunday, June 8. The public is welcome to attend these ticketed events but should register in advance. Demonstrations and lectures will be given by such distinguished artists and art professionals as Daniel Keys, Charles Movali, Zhiwei Tu, Kristen Thies and the editor of Southwest Art Kristen Koerth.

To register online or to preview the paintings, visit our website at www.oilpaintersofamerica.com or call (815) 356-5987.

In addition to the OPA National Exhibition, others exhibitions and sales on view this summer include Art of the Animal Kingdom XIX with Special Guest Artist Rosetta, Impressions of New England, the Small Works Show, Portraying the Human Spirit and the sixth annual Laumeister Fine Art Competition, juried by Brian Blood.

The Bennington Center for the Arts is a non-profit gallery located on Vermont Route 9 West(44 Gypsy Lane). For more information call (802) 442-7158 or go to the website at www.TheBennington.org.

Shires Bike Routes

Mount Anthony Loop
Route Terrain: Very Hilly
Vehicular Traffic: Light to Moderate
Suggested Start/Finish Location: Old Bennington

Route Directions:
From the Bennington Battle Monument, head west on Wallomsac Rd to Gypsy Ln. (2/3 mi). Turn left and continue on Gypsy Ln. and continue to Vt. Rt. Route 9. (1/4 mi). Turn right and continue on busy Vt. Route 9 until Mt. Anthony Rd. (gravel). (1/3 mi). Turn left on Mt. Anthony Rd. (gravel). After a hard climb and a rapid descent, turn left at the first intersection, which is still Mt. Anthony Road. (3 2/3 mi). Continue on Mt. Anthony Rd. until you reach North Pownal Road (paved). (2 1/4 mi). Continue on North Pownal Rd. until you reach Carpenter Hill Rd. (gravel). (2/3 mi). Turn left and continue on Carpenter Hill Road until reaching Monument Ave. (NOT Rt. 7). Make a left on Monument Ave. (NOT Rt. 7) and proceed back to the Monument. (2 2/3 mi).

This route includes winding gravel roads through dense forests, great mountain views and rolling farmland. Visit historic Old Bennington, the Bennington Museum, or the Arts Center before or after your ride.


Manchester-Arlington Tour
Route Terrain: Hilly
Vehicular Traffic: Light to Moderate
Suggested Start/Finish Location: Adams Park (next to the Manchester Chamber of Commerce)

Route Directions:
From Adams Park on Route 7A just north of ManchesterÕs Downtown, head down Center Hill, through the traffic signals at Route 11/30, and onto Richville Road. Continue south on Richville Road to River Road where a left turn continues you on your way downstream into Sunderland. At the Sunderland town highway garage, stay left and climb and then descend Sunderland Hill Road through the Chiselville Covered Bridge into East Arlington. Turn left at the Chippenhook Store onto Old Mill Road. After passing through East Arlington Village and climbing a short hill turn right onto South Road. At Route 313 turn right and continue over a rise to Warm Brook Road. Turn right and proceed a short distance to Ice Pond Road. Follow Ice Pond Road back into East Arlington Village, turn left onto Old Mill Road, and then right back onto Maple Street (Sunderland Hill Road). Retrace your route back through the Chiselville Covered Bridge along Sunderland Hill Road all the way to Richville Road, but now continue straight on River Road. After a short climb River Road intersects Route 7A in Manchester Village. At the Mark Skinner Library veer left onto West Road and proceed north to Ways Lane and follow it back down to Route 7A in Manchester Center. Turn left and continue back to Adams Park.

Standoff at the Henry Covered Bridge and the new McWaters Park

The original Henry Bridge was built in the late 1760s and was the site of a historically important event.

Early Vermont settlers purchased their homesteads from Benning Wentworth, the colonial Governor of New Hampshire. But New York land speculators sued, claiming that the land was actually part of the colony of New York and that the Vermonter’s deeds were invalid.

Their suit succeeded and In July of 1774 a posse of three hundred men, led by the sheriff of Albany, attempted to evict John Breckenridge from his farm on the south side of the Walloomsac. They were confronted at the Henry Bridge by the Green Mountain Boys. After a tense armed standoff, the posse turned around and marched back to New York.

Breckinridge kept his farm, and Vermont was born.

The land east of the Henry Bridge and north of the Walloomsac is a park named in honor of Rob and Jeanne McWaters a couple who have devoted much of their lives to the benefit of the village of North Bennington. The area nearest the covered bridge includes a small parking lot, picnic tables and a bench where visitors may relax and contemplate the river.

A group of local organic gardeners is planting a “permanent forest garden” at the western end of the park. This is a combination of nut and fruit trees, berries, legumes and other carefully chosen plants which are ecologically compatible and which will produce food indefinitely without the use of fertilizers or pesticides.

Bennington Arts Guild

Do you like fine art and crafts created by local artists? Do you enjoy meeting and talking to the actual artists and learning more about their work? Do you like to support local artists and artisans? Then you mustn’t miss the Bennington Arts Guild.

Organized, run and staffed by its artist members since 2005 and located at 103 South Street at the “Four Corners” of downtown Bennington, the gallery is a great place to find one of a kind pieces from local artists – everything from jewelry to furniture, paintings to pottery, photography and hand-turned wood to stained glass. The Bennington Arts Guild gallery has been voted Bennington’s top art gallery and called a “must-see” by the Boston Globe.

The Guild also hosts guest shows. From September 6th – 30th there will be a joint exhibition by two Bennington artists: Tony Conner’s plein air watercolor landscapes will be on view alongside Teru Simon’s sculptural ceramics. From October 4th – November 18th MaryJane Sarvis will have a show of hand painted fabrics, scarves, bags and pillows as well as photography. And from November 22nd through December the Guild will host its annual Holiday Show.

The gallery is open 10 – 6 Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 12 – 4 on Sunday. It’s closed on Tuesday and Wednesday. For more information visit the Guild’s website at www.benningtonartsguild.org or call (802) 442-7838.

From Tracks to Trails: The Summer Experience at Hildene

Guests arriving at Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home in Manchester, Vermont are struck by its beautiful surroundings. The experience for them begins at the Welcome Center located in the Lincoln’s original carriage barn. It includes an observation bee hive, a “working telegraph” and a ceiling high model train with Pullman cars. Here visitors view a short video about the home and its famous inhabitants before embarking on their exploration of the historic site’s many venues.

With a stop at the house, guests discover the place that three generations of President Lincoln’s descendants called home for 70 years. The mansion, built in 1905 by Robert T. Lincoln, the only child of President and Mary Lincoln to survive to maturity, stands on a promontory between the Taconic and Green Mountain Ranges surrounded by spectacular views. The famous Battenkill flows through the valley below on its way to the Hudson River. Robert Lincoln named his ancestral home appropriately, Hildene, a word meaning “hill and valley with stream.”

Guests view Mary and Robert Lincoln’s home through the prism of the family that lived there. The couple built Hildene during Robert’s tenure as president of the Pullman Company; the largest manufacturing corporation in America at the turn of the 20th century. The home, renowned for its setting and wonderful gardens, exudes a simple elegance and sense of getaway, as this is how it was used by the family. The house tour is self-guided, with guided tours available for an additional fee by prior arrangement.

When it comes to family, as is the case in the home of many a son, a remembrance of Dad is often found. Hildene is no exception. In this case the presidential son is Robert Lincoln and the famous father is of course, President Lincoln, whose inspiring words are the focus of the thought provoking exhibit: “The American Ideal: Abraham Lincoln and The Second Inaugural.”

Guests will also encounter the Pullman Palace car, Sunbeam in a forest clearing accessible by walking trail or tram. The rail car came off the line in 1903, during Robert’s tenure as Pullman president. The completely refurbished executive office car with accommodations for family travel as well, includes state rooms, a dining salon, self-contained kitchen and staff quarters, sleeping accommodations for 18 and an observation area at the rear of the car. The car played a role in the lives of Presidents McKinley and Teddy Roosevelt.

The Pullman Company at the turn of the century was the largest employer of African Americans in the country, offering slaves freed by the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th amendment jobs as Pullman porters. In spite of the exploitive environment in which they worked, these men were able to better their lives and those of their families, helping give rise to America’s black middle class.

With a timeline overview that spans the 100 years from the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 to the Civil Rights Movement and March on Washington in 1963, the exhibit at Sunbeam, “Many Voices”, highlights the voices of the Pullman Company, the Gilded Age passengers who traveled in the comfort of its sleeping cars, and the porters who provided the impeccable service that made travel by Pullman second to none.

A visit to the Rowland Agricultural Center at Hildene Farm and its cheese-making facility attests to the agricultural heritage of the Lincolns, while showcasing the merits of applying 21st century sustainability principles: small scale farming, use of renewable energy sources (solar and wood) and responsible forest management. The 40 by 100′ barn is designed specifically to house Hildene’s herd of Nubian goats and for public viewing of cheese-making from milking to processing, pasteurization, aging and finishing of signature Hildene farm cheeses. Guests can get to the farm and all sites at the historic attraction, on foot or by tram.

Many guests use Hildene’s extensive trail system to experience all the site has to offer up close. Approximately 8 miles in length, it can be walked or hiked and cross country skied or snowshoed in winter. As part of a project to upgrade the trails, Hildene grounds staff has been busy all winter constructing one hundred new elevated walkways that are sure to add to the enjoyment of the terrain. Work will soon be completed on a 300 yard floating boardwalk that is located on the part of the trail system that includes the 80 acre meadow, and an observation platform for the wetlands. The boardwalk will not be fully integrated into the general guest experience until 2014.

The Museum Store is located in the Welcome center and is open daily, a special space where a wide range of distinctive items from Lincoln to Gilded Age, gardens, history, nature, farm and Vermont specialty products can be found.

Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home is open daily, year round from 9:30 to 4:30. For more information visit www.hildene.org, call 802.362.1788 or email info@hildene.org.

Catamount Prowl and Gala

Bennington is going Cat Crazy this season!

Over thirty 7′ by 6′ sculptures creatively painted by area artists will be on the streets of Bennington, Vermont from May through October with a Gala and Auction on October 26.

Bennington has had two very successful Moosefests bringing whimsical fiberglass sculptures onto our streets to the delight of young and old. This year we have invited the elusive Catamount (Vermont Mountain Lion) to join the fun. Area Merchants and Businesses have Sponsored these Large and Small Catamounts and are working with the Chamber of Commerce and regional Artists to create a festive streetscape.

www.catamountprowl.com

Bennington Plays Pivotal Role in Crafts History

Shoppers explore the wares of crafts people who create everything from jewelry to housewaresLate in the 1960’s, The Northeast Regional Assembly of the American Crafts Council moved its flagship enterprise, the Northeast Regional Craft Fair to Bennington. Their initial show was held in Stowe, VT and was called “Confrontation.” Seemingly everything in the sixties was a confrontation: civil rights marches, peace parades, multiple murders of political leaders (two Kennedys, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King). This was the era women went braless and people openly smoked “grass” in the streets. There were revolutions worldwide, from Paris to New York City, Peking to Tokyo, the world was in a tumultuous uproar. The Beatles, The Stones, and Bob Dylan all crooned “the times are a changin” fueled by anti-Vietnam war fever and abundant LSD at universities.

American Craft Councils early Northeast Craft Fairs, from the late 1960s or early 1970s.

Even the prim and proper American Craftsmen’s Council felt the reverberations; in 1969, they changed their name to “American Crafts Council” so as to provide a bigger umbrella. That same year, the Crafts Council moved their “Confrontation” to Bennington and called it a much more commercially viable “The Northeast Regional Craft Fair.” The venue was Mount Anthony High School. Inside the lobby and the gym, down the corridors, craft booths were arranged in rows. These were the “chosen few,” the elite craft designers, many of whom were teachers at universities and famous craft schools like Penland in North Carolina and the Rhode Island School of Design in Rhode Island. While their craftwork was cutting edge contemporary, these artisans were sartorially sedate.

American Craft Councils early Northeast Craft Fairs, from the late 1960s or early 1970s.

Outside on the playing fields of the high school, the dress code was noticeably different. There were hundreds of craft exhibitors, all arranged loosely in rows, up and down the grassy field. Some had pop up tents and tepees, others built structures from wood, metal, cardboard, and plastic. Meanwhile, many craft booths were set up on blankets, with wares strewn casually here and there. Many of the exhibitors played guitars, nursed babies, and sipped wine or beer. While the scene was representative of many public gatherings in the late sixties, the craftwork displayed and sold was of very high caliber, even in this outdoor crafts bazaar component of the Craft Fair.

As is the case to the present day, craft festivals were vital markets for the craftspeople. At this show, there was a Wholesale Day – a day when only buyers from shops and galleries were allowed entry. This was Thursday when the buyers ordered products for future delivery to their stores. (In the early years, many of the larger craft shows had a “wholesale day, only for buyers.” The first wholesale only craft shows began in the 1980’s and these events were limited to bona fide, documented owners and buyers representing businesses; the general public was not allowed.

Back then the real money was transacted Friday through Sunday when the crowds swelled to more than 5,000 on any given day. Craft sales were brisk. The traffic gridlocks were memorable as Mount Anthony High School was not designed to accommodate a large influx of automobiles. Getting onto and off Route 7 created major congestion, even at the traffic light at the four corners, patience was stretched. However, hotels and restaurants were jammed packed for the weekend and the show contributed mightily to the local economy.

This was the beginning of an era which lasted up to the naughts of the new millennium. 72,000,000 million baby boomers arrived, seemingly out of now where. They craved “cool” things. They went to craft shows to buy: decorative objects for their homes and offices, personal adornments like jewelry and clothing, functional crafts for the kitchen and dining, sculpture for the garden and patio, and unique gifts for friends and family. Their thirst for craftwork has diminished recently as the boomers hit 6o. They no longer needed “stuff” for their homes as they were now downsizing. Their replacements, Generation X, were only 17,000,000. So, suddenly there were 55,000,000 fewer shoppers. As the 70,000,000 million Gen Y mature, graduate from college, get jobs, and have families there will be a resurgence in retailing. This augurs well for handmade craft work as this generation is predisposed to buying local foods and products.

When the ACC Northeast Craft Fair outgrew the Bennington location and left for the spacious Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck, NY, many Vermont artisans felt there was a void to be filled. In 1973 four intrepid and visionary Vermonters formed an organization called “Craftproducers,” the very same organization that is bringing back the craft fair to Bennington in 2013. (The founders of Craftproducers were Riki Moss, potter; Bob Burnell, The Stone Soldier, potter; John McCloud, woodworker; and, Charley Dooley, candle maker. Ever since, Dooley has been producing art and craft festival for 40 years.)

Meeting the artists and crafts people behind the wares is part of the craft show experience

So, 40 years later, the craft show has returned to Bennington: The 35th Annual Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival, August 2, 3, & 4 at Camelot Village, a mile west of Town on Route 9. The show was initially held in Manchester at the recreation area before it moved to Hildene meadows in 1984. It was a huge success, especially in the 1990’s when Stratton held the men’s tennis tournaments and later the LPGA golf tournament. Today Hildene no longer wants to be an event venue, rather an agricultural tourist destination. Their decision led Craftproducers to seek a new home for the craft show.

The organizers of the Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival are pleased with the enthusiastic welcome from the Bennington community. Current Craftproducers Owner, Tim Cianciola, says, “I am blown away by the friendly welcome and strong support from everyone in Bennington. I think we may be starting a new tradition.”

The Vermont Arts Exchange, the Bennington Museum, the Bennington Chamber of Commerce, Hawkins House Craftsmarket, Bennington Potters, Better Bennington Corporation, Fiddlehead at Four Corners Gallery, and others are actively involved in planning for the Festival. Together with the Bennington Banner and these local groups, Craftproducers is coordinating a town wide Bennington Arts Weekend. Details will be published on the website www.craftrproducers.com about the individual activities of each arts participant. For example, the Bennington Museum will have a craft related installation in the Decorative Arts gallery. It will also stay open later on Friday as it is also “First Friday” in Bennington. For details about First Friday events, visit www.betterbennington.com.

The actual Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival will take place Friday through Sunday, August 2-4, at Camelot Village, the home of the Southern Vermont Garlic Festival. The hours are Friday and Saturday 10-5 and on Sunday 10-4. 140 juried artists, artisans, and specialty food makers will present their handmade works. Many of the exhibitors will be housed under brilliantly white Camelot tents while others will line up under their own canopies.

Live music will be played all weekend in the food court. Localvore caterers will serve organic wood fired pizzas, lobster rolls, grass fed burgers, sausages, sweet and savory waffles and crepes, sesame noodles, dumplings, salads, crispy tofu, local ice cream, Green Mountain Coffee, and more. Vermont Craft Beers and summer wines will be served in the Wine and Beer Café Tent. There are lovely shade trees on the property to afford delightful summer al fresco lunching.

The Vermont Arts Exchange will have its Arts Bus at the site providing kids activities and Thomas the Train will be there to ferry the small children here and there. All in all, The Festival promises to be fun as well as “the” place to shop for contemporary craftwork. And, it is just a few steps down the road to the Bennington Museum; check www.benningtonmuseum.org for what’s happening that weekend. It’s well worth a visit after or before the craft show.

Southwest Vermont and the Civil War

Brigadier General Edward H. Ripley, 1865Southwestern Vermont and the Civil War, is a two-part exhibition scheduled to coincide with and commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War. This exhibit on view at the Bennington Museum from May 25 through October 27 takes a close look at the local involvement of those who lived in the southwestern portion of Vermont in one of the most historic of national conflicts. It is comprised almost exclusively of selections from the museum’s extensive collection of Civil War archives and objects.

Opening on May 25, is The Fabulous General Ripley: Gen. Edward H. Ripley and the Capture of Richmond. This portion of the exhibit examines the Civil War service of this Rutland native and his significant role in the Union’s capture of Richmond, Virginia. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Ripley was a student at Union College in Schenectady, New York. He enlisted as a private in May of 1862 and, exhibiting strong leadership skills quickly rose through the ranks receiving an almost immediate commission as Captain of Company B of the ninth Regiment Vermont Infantry Volunteers. On August 1, 1864 he was brevetted to Brigadier General and placed in charge of the First Brigade, Third Division, 24th Army Corps. In this role, he led the first Union troops into Richmond, Virginia on April 3, 1865. The retreating Confederates had set fire to much of the city. Ripley was quickly placed in command. His first task was to quell the fires and subdue looting mobs. Ripley played a major role in saving Richmond from destruction and in the unofficial end of the Civil War. On April 9, the official treaty ending the war was signed at Appomattox, Virginia.

Among the interesting artifacts on display in this exhibit, is a “coal torpedo” used to inflict serious damage to enemy supply trains that was found by Ripley on the desk of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and artifacts connected to Libby Prison, notorious for its harsh conditions will be on view. These include the Confederate flag lowered by Ripley on April 3, 1865.

Bennington Boys (and Ladies Too): The Local Civil War Experience opens on June 7 and explores the role that local men and woman of southwestern Vermont played in the war as well as the impact it had on their lives. It provides insight into both the public and personal facets of the war. One of the highlights of the exhibition is an American flag featuring a 33-star canton, forming a variation on the “Great Star” pattern popular on the eve of the Civil War. It is appliquéd with the inscription, “Presented to the Bennington Boys of ’61 by the Ladies.” This flag was presented publicly to the soldiers of Bennington’s Company A, at the Old First Church, on June 5, 1861, with Governor Hiland Hall presiding. It was carried throughout the war, present at the Battle of Bull Run, and Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. Objects like this, and the many others on display, help paint a vivid picture of the sacrifices made by local soldiers and civilians in their effort to save the American union.

The Bennington Museum is located at 75 Main Street (Route 9) in The Shires of southwestern Vermont. Opening on July 20 are two new permanent gallery exhibits – Gilded Age Vermont and Bennington Modernism. The museum is open every day of the week July through October and closed on Wednesday other months. Hours: 10 am to 5 pm.  Visit the museum’s website www.benningtonmuseum.org or call 802-447-1571 for more information.

Scenery and History Along The Shires Byway

By Richard Smith

Historic Marker for Jacob Merrit Howard, writer of the 13th AmendmentThis easy 35 mile “Shires Byway” tour, from the Massachusetts border north through Bennington & on to Manchester, combines sites of national importance with gorgeous scenery & side trips. (You can also drive south from Manchester.) As you enjoy 14 state historical markers ( www.historicsites.vermont.gov ) plus many other monuments and interpretative signs, please respect private property.

Start your odometer in Pownal, where Rte. 7 enters Vermont, drive north towards Bennington enjoying views of historic Pownal. (Side trip: see 1740s era Dutch homes such as the DeVoet House in Pownal Village.) At a little over six miles from the Massachusetts border, go left on Carpenter Road then immediately right onto Monument Avenue.

Drive one and a half miles to Old Bennington’s 1805 Old First Church (Vermont’s Colonial Shrine) which has Vermont’s oldest Protestant congregation. Park here. The plaque lying down in the center island indicates you’re on the spot where 700 British prisoners were brought after the resounding American victory at the Battle of Bennington, August 1777, two months before the Battle of Saratoga (Turning point of the Revolution). This spot is also where Vermont ratified the US constitution in 1791 to become the 14th state, the first after the original 13. The weathered private home on the corner is the former Dewey Tavern where Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Walt Disney & other notables visited. The McCullough Mausoleum (north end of the fence) is on the site of Ethan Allen’s home from 1769 to 1775. From here, Allen went north on the Shires Byway (7A) to capture Fort Ticonderoga from the British on May 10, 1775 (America’s First Victory). The cemetery entrance map shows the site of Robert Frost’s (first U.S. poet laureate) grave & the mass grave of British (Hessians) & Americans who died at the Battle of Bennington. Drive north on Monument Avenue to the statue for the Catamount Tavern (former headquarters of the Green Mountain Boys who held off NY land claims).

Revolutionary War re-enactors at the Bennington Battle MonumentContinue to the 306-foot Bennington Battle Monument. Complete with elevator, adjacent gift shop and rest rooms, it is the tallest man-made structure in Vermont. From Monument Circle, take Walloomsac Rd. 500 yards to Fairview then half a mile to Silk. Follow Silk through the c1840 covered bridge to Matteson, then take Rice for less than a mile back to route the Shires Byway(7A) & turn left.

Heading north on historic 7A, at just over one mile is Robert Frost’s former Shaftsbury home (now a museum) where he wrote in 1922 “Passing by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” (part of his Pulitzer Prize winning book). Drive two plus miles further north to the Shaftsbury Historic District. At the Baptist church (Shaftsbury Historical Society), the historic marker describes where Vermont’s Jacob Merritt Howard, sole author of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery & the basis of the film “Lincoln,” was born. Less than a half-mile north on 7A is the home of former Green Mountain Boy/Vermont governor, Jonas Galusha. Further north, just south of the corner of Old Depot Road 7A is the former Samuel Bottum “safe” house. Now a private residence, it was a stop on the Underground Railroad for runaway slaves.

About five miles more on 7A is Arlington. Ethan Allen lived in Arlington and his first wife is buried in the Episcopal Church cemetery. Norman Rockwell lived in Arlington (from 1939 to 1952) when he painted “the Four Freedoms.” As a side trip, take 313 West about four miles to the covered bridge & Rockwell’s former home/studio, the Inn on the Covered Bridge Green. Return along the scenic unpaved River Road. For another side trip from 7A, go east on East Arlington Road to East Arlington & view Revolutionary War era buildings (some, where Tories hid), an antique shop & a chocolate store. Heading north again on 7A, visit the Sugar Shack (Norman Rockwell prints/museum); go three miles to the Ira Allen House B&B where Ira & his brother Ethan lived. Go another 200 yards north, for a 200-yd. side trip on Hill Farm Road to the Ira Allen Cemetery for spectacular views of Mount Equinox (tallest mountain in the Taconics).

Another three miles north on 7A is Hildene ( www.Hildene.org ), the magnificent 412-acre estate of Robert Todd Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln’s only son to live to adulthood. Tour the mansion, gardens, Pullman car, etc. Abraham Lincoln descendents are buried in Dellwood cemetery next to the Hildene entrance.

The church and historic marker in Manchester VillageAnother half mile north in Manchester Village (with its historic marker) is the Equinox Hotel, established in 1769. In 1775, Ethan Allen passed though here on his way to capturing Fort Ticonderoga. In 1777, the first government meeting of the newly formed independent Republic of Vermont, took place in the original Marsh Tavern. Also in 1777, New Hampshire’s John Stark defied George Washington here & went South on the Shires Byway to the Battle of Bennington. Later, the Equinox hosted Mary Todd Lincoln in 1863 & 1864 and President William Howard Taft in 1912.

Continue on 7A into Manchester Center. At the large roundabout, turn right onto 11/30. The area from the roundabout to Highland Ave. housed factories which, among other products, milled neighboring Dorset’s quarried marble that ended up as Civil War tombstones or as part of famous buildings in NYC, Boston & Washington, DC.

For more information, please visit the Bennington & Manchester Chambers, Manchester’s Northshire Bookstore as well as their websites. Also, see the Shires Byway website: www.theshiresofvermont.com

Richard (Dick) Smith is a best selling author on Vermont history and gives historic tours for Backroad Discovery Tours.

The Shires of Vermont Byway

The Shires of Vermont BywayThe Shires of Vermont Byway is named for the scenic region it passes through from Vermont’s southern border with Massachusetts to its northern point where it intersects with the Stone Valley Byway in the heart of Manchester. This ribbon of road, US Route 7 from Pownal to Bennington, and VT Historic Route 7A from Bennington to Manchester, is the historic stretch that has connected the communities of the north shire and south shire for centuries. Historically, a “shire town” was a county seat otherwise known as the governmental center of the county.

Created in 2010, The Shires of Vermont Byway links the existing Molly Start Byway (Route 9, in the Southshire) and the Stone Valley Byway (Route 30, in the Northshire), to afford travelers a complete route through our region and is part of an almost complete circuit of byways across the entire state.

The Shires of Vermont Byway winds its way from south to north through the towns of Pownal,Bennington, North Bennington Village, Shaftsbury, Arlington, Sunderland, Manchester Village and Manchester Center for approximately 75 miles including side trips.

For more information about Vermont Byways, visit www.vermont-byways.us

Bennington Arts Guild

Bennington Arts Guild

The Bennington Arts Guild is always worth a visit with its wide range of reasonably priced art and craft items, all created by artist members who co-own and operate the gallery at 103 South Street, near the crossroads in downtown Bennington.

In addition to the main gallery in the front of the store, a second smaller space showcases the work of individual artists. During September Judy Kniffin will show her oil paintings alongside woven bags by Paula Kautz-LaPorte. October 6 to November 17 will be turn of Dan Barber and Colleen Williams who will display hooked rugs and porcelain respectively. And from November 22 the Holiday Art Show will focus on beautiful holiday gifts. Meet the artists and enjoy free refreshments at opening receptions on September 1 and October 6, both from 5 – 8 pm.

Madison Brewing Company

Madison Brewing Company

If you are a fan of beer, then you must visit this famed local brewery and restaurant. They feature seven brews of their own making, including favorites such as Old 76, Sucker Pond Blonde, Willoughby’s Scottish Ale, Bucks Honey Wheat, Wassick’s White Wall, Crowtown Pale Ale, and a changing seasonal brew. They offer a varied pub menu that includes vegetarian options, all-you-can-eat fish & chips (on Wednesdays), burgers, pasta dishes, and a children’s menu. Make sure to try the home-made chips! The atmosphere is welcoming and family friendly. Serving lunch and dinner, they are open seven days a week. Seasonal outdoor seating is available. This is a local favorite and you won’t be disappointed!

Delicious food at the Madison Brewing Company

Onwards and Upwards! Carrying on the Pottery Tradition in Bennington

Bennington Pottery

Onwards and Upwards! That’s what David Gil, the founder of Bennington Potters used to tell the members of his company. Bennington’s potters are still constantly improving, innovating, and attending to every detail to meet the demands of the changing world. Bennington Potters, today a small company of 10 dedicated potters and an equally dedicated sales and support staff, remains a significant player in the world market for dinnerware, bake ware and art pottery.

It’s all in the design: David Gil’s design oriented philosophy is the key principle guiding these potters into the 21st century. They adhere to Gil’s original quality design standard – as innovative and state-of the-art today as it was in 1948 when the company was founded – even though they are using clay forming methods that are primitive by today’s standards. It is all about the piece. Considerations of size, shape, look, feel, color, texture, durability, usability, comfort, ease, simplicity – the simple beauty of it all – is what goes into a piece made by Bennington Potters. This is why old customers return year after year and new customers wish they had found the place years ago. Are these potters proud of what they do? In a word: Yes. It shows. And visitors to the pottery can see it right away as they watch the potters work.

The hands-on tradition: Every piece of ware passes through at least 8 pairs of hands with some handling the piece 2 or 3 times before it is ready to be shipped or put on the store’s shelves. Liquid clay poured from a dairy farm’s milking hose or a shapeless nondescript hunk of firm clay will become a streamlined cup, plate, bowl, platter, or piece of bake ware. Each phase of production – from forming to firing – is carefully attended by these skilled artisans who both inspect and perfect at each step of the way. The potters work to the design, standard and pattern while the glazing techniques insure that no two pieces are ever exactly alike. There is a magical serendipity – individuality really – like that found in Vermont’s landscape. The processes are repeated hundreds even thousands of times, yet each piece is as fresh and new as if it were the very first one made. The hand to hand chain ends when the potters’ partners, the Grist Mill sales associates, hand the piece purchased to the customer. As they say at Bennington Potters: from our hands to yours.

Northshire Bookstore Receives Governor’s Award

Northshire Bookstore

Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT: The 2012 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence has been awarded to the Northshire Bookstore in partnership with Alan Benoit.  Northshire and Benoit won in the small business category because the, “Community bookstore Northshire has implemented renewable energy projects, installed a solar interactive education kiosk, and partnered with local architect Alan Benoit, who has provided over 30 workshops on various sustainable living topics at the bookstore for the general public.”

Chris Morrow, bookstore co-owner, has long had a commitment to environmental issues. “I have strong passion for working on the myriad issues facing our species and planet. ‘Environment’ is not separate from business or society – we live in a complex, interconnected world. I thank the State for recognizing our small efforts and Alan for working so assiduously on educating us on so many important topics.” Alan Benoit, local architect and owner of Sustainable Design commented, “I have always been looking for a way to increase public awareness about all things green.  My Sustainable Living presentation series has given me the opportunity to share my knowledge and that of other local experts with the community on the topics of energy, architecture, efficiency, gardening and sustainability.”

The Vermont Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence were established in 1993 to recognize the actions taken by Vermonters to conserve and protect natural resources, prevent pollution, and promote environmental sustainability.  To date, more than 170 efforts of Vermont organizations, institutions, public agencies, businesses, and individuals have been recognized. These projects contribute significantly to Vermont’s environmental quality and encourage others to take action. Secretary Deb Markowitz said, “We were pleased with the number of great applications we received for the Governor’s Awards this year. Vermont’s businesses, schools and individuals see that good environmental practices are not just good for Vermont but they also benefit the bottom line.”

The 2012 recipients of the Governor’s Awards will be recognized by Governor Peter Shumlin and Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Deb Markowitz on May 15, at the Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility’s annual spring conference at the University of Vermont Davis Center.

Vermont State Parks in The Shires

Fishing at Woodford State Park. Photo credit: Jared Clark, Vermont State Parks
Fishing at Woodford State Park. Photo credit: Jared Clark, Vermont State Parks

Vermont State Parks offer a place to camp, play, relax, and explore! There are 52 state parks across the state, three of which are in The Shires, all offering a range of unique opportunities, such as great hiking, swimming, boat rentals, concession, vistas, wildlife viewing, and prime camp sites. Vermont State Parks’ website www.vtstateparks.com lists each park and the activities and amenities they offer as well as information on reservations, and lots photos of the parks and the people who enjoy them each year.

Woodford State Park (in Woodford, VT) is the highest elevation campground in the state at 2400’ above sea level. With easy trails, an open lake, and a bog to explore, it’s great for all ages. Woodford has boat rentals (canoe, kayak, and rowboats) 103 campsites, and is also a popular fishing location. If you stay overnight, be prepared to be awakened by an outstanding chorus of birds which serenade visitors, especially in the spring.

Lake Shaftsbury State Park (in Shaftsbury, VT) offers visitors a great beach and picnic areas, easy hikes around the lake, and a rental cottage. Row boats, pedal boats, kayaks, and canoes are all available for rent as well as a picnic shelter for large group gatherings. For those that need to refuel, a concession stand located in the park offers yummy snacks at reasonable prices.

Emerald Lake State Park (in East Dorset, VT) includes a small clear, clean, and cold lake where visitors can rent a kayak, canoe, pedal boat or rowboat. A concession stand, lakeside picnic tables, and a picnic pavilion for large groups are also available. 104 campsites are scattered on the heavily wooded ridge above the lake.

Day entry into the parks is $3/per person if you’re 14 or older, $2 for kids under 3-14 yrs. old and free for kids 3 yrs. old and younger. When you pay for entry into one park, you can get into all other for free that same day, so you can visit multiple parks if you’d like.

For more information or to make a reservation call our reservation center, 888-409-7579, Monday – Friday 9am – 4pm, visit www.vtstateparks.com, or send an email to parks@state.vt.us.

The West Mountain Inn: A Vermont Country Inn Experience!

West Mountain Inn

Originally built in 1809 as a farmhouse, the West Mountain Inn in Arlington sits nestled on a hillside with the famous Battenkill River flowing at the base of their drive. A family run business for over 30 years, owner Amie Emmons is a second generation innkeeper of this secluded 20 room bed and breakfast getaway. With romantic, antique filled guest rooms, fantastic mountain views, local farm fresh dining, 150 acres of woodland hiking and snowshoeing trails, extensive gardens and friendly alpacas, the West Mountain Inn is a true Vermont country experience.

Guests can relax and explore the Inn’s beautiful grounds, trails and gardens or take just a few steps down the drive and go tubing, canoeing or fly fishing on the Battenkill. For cycling enthusiasts River Road offers a quiet, scenic ride past a horse farm and thru a historic covered bridge. Just 10 minutes from Manchester and an hour to Williamstown, MA or Saratoga Springs, NY; shopping, golf, summer theater and music events are all within a short day trip.

The Inn was chosen by The Knot in 2012 as a “Best of Weddings Pick” for Vermont venues. Their historic barn provides a rustic, elegant setting for receptions and the beauty of their grounds is the perfect backdrop for a classic Vermont country wedding.

Chef Jeff Scott partners with local farms and artisan food producers to bring guests the best in Vermont’s farm fresh, organic cuisine. The cozy tavern and dining room with fireside tables offers breakfast and dinner to Inn guest and is also open to the general public.

Each year the Inn hosts a many special groups and events. From musical house concerts to business conferences, holiday celebrations, yoga retreats or fly fishing seminars; they customize activities, menus and spaces around the needs and requests of each group.

West Mountain Inn is a place where you can slow down, be pampered and take in all the beauty and authentic hospitality that Vermont has to offer.

Scenic Backroads

By Sharon O’Conner, owner of Backroad Discovery

Cars on Covered BridgeThe foliage season draws people from all over the world. Yes, the autumn leaves are beautiful, but many people miss the little details that make Vermont so very special! It has been nicknamed, “The State of Mind” by some … and one can well understand this euphemism when looking closely. Vermont is: rolling pastures surrounded by majestic mountains, rounded bales of hay dotting the hillsides and casting shadows in the late afternoon, crystal clear mountain streams gurgling through a wooded glen, immaculate well-kept homes garnished with colorful perennial flower beds, tiny family burial plots dating back to the time when our country was founded, obscure hamlets steeped in history and tradition. What Vermont is MOST about is its people (friendly, hard working, willing to help in any way) and how they choose to live!

This Green Mountain State consists of countless scenic routes and one of my favorites is a relaxing 45-mile route located in Bennington County. Pack a picnic lunch, fill the car with gas, and head out for a couple of hours of adventure, fun and a few surprises!

Start your trip at the intersection of 7A and River Road in the village of Manchester. This road winds through the valley between the Green Mountain and Taconic Mountain ranges. It is lined with stone walls and overhanging sugar maple trees. Watch for Hildene Meadows on the right (the site of many special events during summer and fall). Look for Burough Lane on the left (about 4 mi.) and follow to North Road. Continue on and make a left at Kelly Stand Road. The rock cluttered river beckons you to follow it along. A footbridge appears crossing the river. Where might it go? Why not find out? There are plenty of places to pull over and park the car. Take a stroll down the lane, picnic by the water, or sit on a fallen tree in the middle of the stream and ponder where the water began. Listen to the birds calling gently to one another or perhaps observe a moose and her calves lumbering to the waterside for a drink! After driving for about 4.5 mi. on Kelly Stand look for a water pipe on the left where you can refill your water bottle with the pure spring water.

Continue on and you will reach the Stratton Pond /Mountain Trailhead. There is a large parking area where you can leave the car and hike on trails averaging 2-6mi., or a l2mi. loop. If you are not a hiker travel back on Kelly Stand for approximately l.3 miles. A small parking area overlooks a spectacular view of the valley and distant mountains. Continue on and realize that you are in the wilderness, home to bear, moose, bobcats, coyotes, and loons. Notice the hidden homes seemingly untouched by technology.

Retrace your track back down the Kelley Stand to civilization, follow the sign to Route 7. This will bring you into the enchanting borough of East Arlington. Take a moment to visit the quaint theme shops, buy a piece of homemade fudge and sit by the waterfall. When you have finished, continue to the stop sign. Turn left onto East Arlington Road and then right onto Route 7A. You will pass the Norman Rockwell Museum (well worth a visit).

After the museum, travel a few hundred yards and turn left onto Route 313. Make another left onto River Road (.5 mi.), a bucolic byway which ambles alongside the Battenkill River. You will see canoeists winding their way downstream and fly fisherman hoping for tonight’s meal. The road is dotted with small antique stores, out-of-the-way inns, rolling pastures, and horse farms. Look for Covered Bridge Road and turn right. Stop to notice The Inn at Covered Bridge, which was Norman Rockwell’s studio for 14 years and the Battenkill Grange which is still the site of family potluck suppers and local gatherings. Take a walk through the Arlington Green Covered Bridge which was built in 1852 and touch the wooden pegs still holding the supports. Thrill the kids and honk the horn (only once) as you pass through.

Cars on BackroadTurn right onto Route 313, and then left onto Sandgate Road. Go 3.5 mi. and stumble upon one of my newest “backroad discoveries,” the Green River Inn. Stop by and ask the owners if you can visit the deck that they decided to build into the side of their mountain. If you have 4-wheel drive , you can drive up. If not, it takes about 1/2 an hour to stroll up the gentle slope. When you reach “the deck,” you will view one of southern Vermont’s most spectacular vistas! When you return, enjoy your favorite beverage on the Inn’s back veranda and make sure you visit the first floor hallway, which shows the enormous restoration process that owners Jim and Betsy Gunn have undertaken. Stroll around the grounds, take it all in and who knows? You may decide that you must spend just one more day in the area!

Where the Buffalo Roam

By Bette Reynolds

Townshend, Vermont

East Hill Bison FarmThe dream that Carl Steiner and his wife Eloise fulfilled began in 1991 on top of East Hill. East Hill is just outside of the villages of Townshend and Harmonyville. It started on their 175 acre farm with three animals; two one-year old female bison from the Perry Farm in Charlotte, Vermont and a South Dakota bull bison called Henry. Commonly known as buffalo in the USA, the correct scientific name is bison. The herd has now grown to twenty-eight head and continues to grow each year. This year alone has produced six healthy calves. The gestation period for a female bison is 275 days. An average newborn calf weighs 30 pounds, while adults often average 1300 pounds. The diet of the bison is very important to the quality of their low fat, low cholesterol meat. To supplement pasture, Carl feeds them a large round bale of hay (equivalent to 16 normal bales of hay) every three days. He also feeds them dried corn on the cob that has been run through a hammer mill. Salt is also important in their diet.

I was fortunate enough this year on the second day of summer to witness Carl calling his prize bull Henry up close to the 4600 volt electric fence. Henry protectively escorted his herd with calves, so that I may photograph them.

Buffalo meat is available upon request at the Steiner residence. Also available ready-cooked from East Hill Bison Stock are buffalo burgers at the Townshend Dam Diner. Stephanie will cook your burger to perfection. All East Hill Bison meat is Vermont inspected. There are no chemical additives or antibiotic feeding produce involved in breeding bison for meat. There have also been no allergic reactions to eating buffalo meat Buffalo are no longer an endangered species and now number 400,000 in the United States.

The Proud History of a Proud Ship

During the Revolutionary War, General Burgoyne, who was advancing south from Canada, committed the tactical error of out-marching his own supply teams. As he neared Saratoga, he detached a force of Hessians under Lt. Col. Braun to capture the supplies, munitions and horses held by the Revolutionaries at a nearby supply depot in Vermont. This force was met and decisively defeated by a brigade of New Hampshire Militiamen led by Colonel John Stark, a victory which contributed to Burgoyne’s ultimate defeat at Saratoga. The time was mid-August 1777, the battleground was Bennington, Vermont.

In its first tribute to this victory, the Navy assigned the name BENNINGTON to 1700 ton gunboat, sister ship of the gunboats LEXINGTON and CONCORD. Commissioned in 1891, the vessel was built as a three masted steam schooner and armed with six guns. She operated in South Atlantic and European waters until 1894 when she joined the Pacific Fleet.

Based out of Mare Island, BENNINGTON operated along the Pacific Coast of North and Central America and the Hawaiian Islands until the outbreak of the Spanish-American War. On 17 January 1899, while en route to the Philippines, she took formal possession of Wake Island. BENNINGTON cruised in Philippine waters assisting the U.S. Army in suppressing the insurrection until her return to Mare Island on 3 January 1901 when she was decommissioned. Recommissioned on 2 March 1903, she again cruised along the Pacific coast of North and South America until 17 August 1905 when the first USS BENNINGTON was permanently decommissioned.

The second ship to bear this historic name was the aircraft carrier BENNINGTON (CV-20) commissioned on 6 August 1944.

On 15 December, BENNINGTON got underway from New York and transited the Panama Canal on her voyage to the Pacific. The carrier arrived at Pearl Harbor on 8 January 1945 and then proceeded to Ulithi Atoll, Caroline Islands, where she joined Task Group 58.1 on 8 February. Operating out of Ulithi, she took part in the strikes against the Japanese home islands (16-17 and 25 February), Volcano Islands (18 February – 4 March), Okinawa (1 March), and the raids in support of the Okinawa campaign (18 March – 11 June). On 7 April, BENNINGTON’S planes participated in the attacks on the Japanese task force moving through the East China Sea toward Okinawa which resulted in the sinking of the Japanese Battleship Yamato and four destroyers.

On 5 June, the carrier was damaged by a typhoon off Okinawa and returned to Leyte for repairs arriving on 12 June. Her repairs completed, BENNINGTON left Leyte, 1 July, and during 12 July – 15 August, took part in the final raids off the Japanese home islands. She continued operations in the West Pacific supporting the occupation of Japan until 21 October. On 2 September, she launched 78 aircraft which participated in the mass flight over USS MISSOURI (BB-63) and Tokyo during the surrender ceremonies. BENNINGTON arrived at San Fransisco on 7 November 1945, and early in March 1946, transited the Panama Canal en route to Norfolk. Following pre-inactivation overhaul, she was decommissioned and placed in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at Norfolk 8 November 1946. After 4 years in preservation, BENNINGTON on 30 October 1950, steamed from Norfolk to the New York Naval Shipyard for modernization prior to re-commissioning. For two years she received major alterations which expanded her operating capabilities as well as making significant changes to her dimensions and appearance. BENN now displaced 40,500 tons and gained 43 feet in overall length and 8 feet at the beam, a stronger flight deck, stronger elevators, and higher capacity catapults. BENNINGTON was prepared for her new role as a jet attack carrier, CVA-20.

On 26 May 1954, the port catapult accumulator burst, releasing hydraulic fluid under tremendous pressure throughout the adjacent spaces. Scarcely flammable in a liquid state, the fluid becomes highly explosive when in this vaporized form. Ignition from an undetermined source set off a series of violent explosions which rocked the forward part of the ship. Damage control parties quickly isolated and began battling fires. Casualties were treated at emergency dressing stations set up in hanger bay three. Despite damage to the propulsion system, the ship was able to continue underway, launching all her aircraft, and then with the wind abaft the beam, proceeded to Quonset Point. In all, 103 officers and men were killed or died of injuries received in the catastrophe. Over 200 others were injured.

The ship moored at the New York Naval Shipyard to undergo damage repairs and modernization. While there, Captain Raborn held Meritorious Mast during which 188 BENNINGTON sailors received Meritorious Mast Citations and letters of commendation. Captain Raborn gave special praise to these men who performed services far beyond the call of duty at a time when “heroism was commonplace.”

BENNINGTON operated off the East Coast from April until September 1955, conducting readiness training, carrier qualifications and evaluations of her mirror landing system which was installed in July of that year. Finally, on 8 September, BENNINGTON set forth on a 14,000 mile journey around Cape Horn to her home-port of San Diego arriving 20 October.

Her stay was brief, for 11 days later she passed Ballast Point heading towards the Far East and a return to the scene of her former triumphs more than ten years earlier.

BENNINGTON made two deployments to the Far East during the next two years. The first from 31 October 1955 until 16 April 1956, and the second from 12 October 1956 until 22 May 1957. During the latter cruise, she visited Sydney, Australia, taking part in the celebration of the 15th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea. A three month routine yard overhaul at Hunter’s Point lasted until September followed by a period of nine months operating off the California Coast and performing shipboard training and carrier qualifications of West Coast Navy and Marine air groups. This training period was terminated in May, 1958, when the ship sailed for Hawaii and received her Operational Readiness Inspection. After successfully completing this exercise, BENNINGTON proceeded to Vancouver, British Columbia, where she attended the Centennial Celebration of British Columbia. The ship, along with units of British and Canadian navies, was reviewed by Her Royal Highness, Princess Margaret of Great Britain.

On 21 August, BENNINGTON made an additional deployment to the Far East, this time on less than a week’s notice. The ship, with Air Task Group 4 embarked, formed part of the famed Seventh Fleet during the Quemoy crisis. During the initial period of watchfulness, BENNINGTON steamed constantly for 43 days, launching around the clock patrols guarding the straits. After rest and recreation visits to various Far East ports, she returned to San Diego on 13 January 1959.

BENNINGTON has since become the most-up-to-date anti-submarine warfare carrier in the Pacific, home-ported in Long Beach since early 1963. Her history illustrates her tradition – a proud tradition of a carrier.

Southern Vermont Campgrounds: Information and Locations

West River BoatersSouthern Vermont’s campsites are located in Vermont’s more scenic areas of plush forests and crystal lakes. The sites provide all that is necessary to ensure a most exciting and pleasurable outdoor living experience. Come to Vermont and experience a vacation that will leave you with memories for a lifetime.


Emerald Lake State Park | Fort Dummer State Park | Jamaica State Park
Molly Stark State Park | Townshend State Park | Woodford State Park
Information on Facilities


Emerald Lake State Park
The 430-acre park is located along the side of Dorset Mountain with Emerald Lake, the head waters of Otter Creek, at its base. The area was historically important for its marble quarrying activities with the park lands once operating as a large farm and summer retreat before becoming a state park in 1960.
Facilities: The 105 campsites, including 36 lean-tos, are located on a heavily wooded ridge above Emerald Lake. Flush toilets, hot showers ($) and a dump station are provided. There is a small beach with snack bar and boat rental facilities. A hillside picnic area, as well as lakeside picnic tables are available. An open picnic shelter pavilion can be reserved for large group gatherings. Trails throughout the park and nearby provide great hiking opportunities. Swimming, fishing, and boating (no motors) are popular in the lake.
Area Attractions: Shopping in Manchester, historic Hildene and the Equinox Hotel, Manchester; Bennington Museum and Monument, Bennington; Wilson Castle and the Vermont Marble Exhibit, Proctor.

Directions:
In North Dorset on Rt 7.

Contact Information:
RD Box 485, East Dorset, Vermont 05253 Summer: (802) 483-2001 Season: Mid-May to October (Columbus Day)

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Fort Dummer State Park
Located in the Connecticut River Valley, has 217 acres of forest land just outside of Brattleboro.

The park was named after Fort Dummer, the first permanent white settlement in Vermont. Built on the frontier in 1724, it was initially the gateway to the early settlements along the banks of the Connecticut River. Forty-three English soldiers and twelve Mohawk Indians manned the fort in 1724 and 1725. Later, the fort protected what was then a Massachusetts colony from an invasion by the French and Indians. Made of sturdy white pine timber,stacked like a log cabin, Fort Dummer served its purpose well.
The park overlooks the site of Fort Dummer which was flooded when the Vernon Dam was built on the Connecticut River in 1908. This site can be seen from the northernmost scenic vista on the Sunrise Trail. It is now underwater near the lumber company located on the western bank of the river.

Located in the southern foothills of the Green Mountains, the forest is more like those of southern New England than like a tropical Vermont forest. Southern tree species such as white, red and chestnut aoks, dominate the hardwood forest, which also contains beech, maple, yellow birch, and white birch.

An abundance of oak trees provides food and shelter for gray squirrels, turkeys, and deer. Ruffed grouse also inhabit these woods, attracted by its dense woody cover and open understory.

Facilities:
The campground has 51 tent/trailer sites and 10 lean-to sites. These are located in two adjacent areas and are served by two toilet buildings, both with hot showers($). There is a sanitary dump station, but no hookups. Also located within the park are a small picnic area, hiking trails, a play area, and a large open field.

Area Attractions:
Steamtown, Bellow Falls; Basketville, Putney; Flea Market, Newfane; Bennington Battle Monument, Bennington; Townshend Dam, Townshend; also, covered bridges in the area.

Directions:
From Jct. I-91 (Exit 1, Brattleboro) & U.S. 5: Go 1/10 mi. N on U.S> 5, then 1/2 mi E on Fairground Road, then 1 mi S on Main Street and Olk Guilford Road.

Contact Information:
434 Old Guildford Road, Brattleboro, Vermont 05301
Summer: (802) 254-2610 / Winter: (802) 886-2434.
Season: Mid-May to September (Labor Day)

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Jamaica State Park
Jamaica State Park, now comprising 756 acres, was completed and opened to the public in 1969.

Previously, the area had supported a few small farms and a sawmill. The Brattleboro Railroad ran through the park. The old railroad bed in now used as the trail that leads along the West River to Ball Mountain Dam. The railroad operated from about 1892 until 1927, when a flood wiped most of it out.

The area at Salmon Hole, now used as the swimming area, was the site of a famous Indian Massacre in 1776.

Jamaica State Park is located on a bend of the West River about one-half mile from the center of the town of Jamaica. Nearby to the north is Ball Mountain. Hamilton Falls is located about three miles up Cobb Brook, which enters the West River upstream from the park. The West River has a very large drainage area extending from Weston and the southside of Terrible Mountain to Windaham on the east and Bromley on the west.

Every spring and fall, on one weekend in late April and early October, there is a water release on the West River from Ball Mountain Dam. This is a semiannual event for many kayakers and canoeists from all over New England.

The West River is also a favorite spot for many fishermen. The combination of slow running water and shallow fast ripples makes for some fine fishing.

Facilities:
There are 61 tent/trailer sites and18 lean-to sites that are spread out through the campground. Two rest rooms, complete with hot showers ($), are located in the campground. A picnic shelter and nature center is located near the picnic area and swimming hole. A hiking trail follows the West River and branches off toward Hamilton Falls.

Area Attractions:
Hamilton Falls; Hidene – Robert Tokk Lincoln’s home, Manchester; a theater and shops, Weston; Art Center, Manchester; Alpine Slide, Bromley.

Directions:
From Jamaica go 1/2 mile N on Town Road.

Contact Information:
Box 45, Jamaica, Vermont 05343
Summer: (802) 874-4600 / Winter: (802) 886-2434.

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Molly Stark State Park
Molly Stark State Park is named after the famous wife of General John Stark of the Revolutionary War. The park is located along the “Molly Stark Trail,” Route 9, which bisects southern Vermont.

Originally, the first settlers used the area for farming. During the 1930s the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built fireplaces and a toilet building, but there is no evidence that this area was used by the public for camping even though local people may have used the land for picnics.

The area was designated and opened as Molly Stark State Park on July 2, 1960. The park has open lawn areas, woods, and Mt. Olga rising to the east where there is an old fire tower with spectacular views. The area is very popular during the fall foliage season for its colors, and also because it is located on one of the more popular travel routes.

Facilities:
Two camping loops consist of 23 tent/trailer sites and 11 lean-to sites. One rest room with showers($) is located in each loop. There are a play area and a picnic pavilion for large groups. A hiking trail starts from the park and goes up to the Mt. Olga fire tower.

Area Attractions:
Gondola, Mt. Snow; Vermont Historical Society, Norton House Museum, Hermitage Sugar House, and Game Bird Farm, 1836 Country Store Village, Maple Grove Honey Museum, Wilmington; Brattleboro Museum and Art Center, Brattleboro; Luman Nelson Wildlife Museum, Marlboro; Bennington Museum, Bennington.

Directions:
From Brattleboro: Exit #2, I-91d, 15 miles W on Vt. 9.

Contact Information:
705 Route 9 East, Wilmington, Vermont 05363.
Summer: (802) 464-5460 / Winter: (802) 886-2434.
Season: Mid-May to October (Columbus Day).

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Townshend State Park
Townshend State Park is located at the foot of Bald Mountain on a bend of the West River. There is a view of Rattlesnake Mountain to the north from the ranger’s quarters.

A hiking trail leads to the summit of the mountain, a vertical climb of 1,100 feet from the campground. Geological features along the trail include waterfalls, chutes, and pools. From the top of the mountain, vistas provide views to the north, south, and east.

During the depression, a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp was based in the campground, which was part of a federal work program for the unemployed. The CCC laidouta large camping area and picnic area and constructed a stone house and steel fire tower. The house was built from stone quarried in the forest. Several handcrafted stone arch bridges, the work of local mason, can also be see in the Townshend area.

The park is mainly a camp area of approximately 41 acres include in the 856-acre Townshend State Forest. To the south of the camp area is Bald Mountain which rises to an elevation of 1,680 feet. Down the state park road to the north is the Townshend Dam Recreation Area managed by the Army Corps of Engineers. This provides swimming and other day use activities for visitors in the area.

Facilities:
The campground, situated in a wooded area, has 30 tent/trailer sites and 4 lean-to sites. There are two bathrooms, one of which has showers ($). A picnic shelter with a fireplace and three tables is attached to the ranger’s quarters. There is a loop trail to the top of Bald Mountain for day hiking.

Area Attractions:
Flea markets, Newfane and Townshend; Alpine Slide, Bromley; Village Store and Bowl Mill, Weston; Windham County Historical Museum, Newfane; Hildene, home of Robert Todd Lincoln, and the Jelly Mill, Manchester.

Directions:
From Junction Hwy 30 and Town Road, go 3 miles north on Town Road.

Contact Information:
Route 1 Box 2650, Townshend, Vermont 05353
Summer: (802) 365-7500 / Winter: (802) 886-2434
Season: Mid-May to October (Columbus Day).

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Woodford State Park
Woodford State Park comprises 398 acres located on a mountain plateau (2,400 feet, the highest of all Vermont’s state parks) and surrounds Adams Reservoir. The hig elevation spruce/fir/birch vegetation provides an ideal setting for the park. Several lakes and ponds, as well as the vast Green Mountain National Forest, surround the area.

Facilities:
The campground has 103 sites including 20 lean-tos. The heavily wooded area surrounds the reservoir and offers great camping opportunities. Flush toilets, hot showers ($), and a dump station are provided. There is a small beach and picnic area near the dam with pit toilet facilities. Rowboats, canoes, and pakkle boats are available for rent. There are several hiking trails, including a 2.7 mile trail around the lake.

Area Attractions:
Bennington Museum and Monument, Park-McCullough Mansion, Hildene and the Equinox Hotel, Manchester; Norman Rockwell Museum in Arlington.

Directions:
From Bennington: Go 10 mi E on Hwy 9.

Contact Information:
HCR 65 Box 928, Bennington, Vermont 05201.
Summer: (802) 447-7169 / Winter: (802) 483-2001.
Season: Nid_May to October (Columbus Day).

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Information on Facilities

Molly Stark Facilities
23 tent/trailer sites
and 11 lean-to’s
2 rest rooms with showers
play area and picnic pavillion

Woodford Facilities
103 camping sites
rest rooms with showers
dump station
picnic area
small beach

Jamaica Facilities
61 tent/trailer sites and 18 lean-to’s
2 rest rooms with showers
picnic area
nature center
swimming hole

Townsend Facilities
30 tent/trailer sites
4 lean-to sites
picnic shelter with fireplaces

Shaftsbury Facilities
15 lean-to’s for groups
pit toilets and rest rooms
developed beach
picnic pavillion
rowboats, paddle boats
and canoes to rent

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Londonderry, Vermont

By Bette Reynolds

South LondonderryNestled between the West River and three major ski resort mountains, is what is affectionately nicknamed “the Golden Triangle” which includes Londonderry and seven smaller surrounding towns and villages. Londonderry was established in 1780 and retains much of it’s historical flavor.

The current Executive Director of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce is Jim Lind, a former schoolteacher and football coach from Manasquan NJ. Jim assumed the position in January 2001, and like many pilgrims to Vermont, has brought refreshing energy and enthusiasm to the Chamber. He has a vested interest in the area business, being a business owner as well as the Chamber’s director. Jim regards Londonderry’s economy with a smile, saying “we’ve come a long way this year !”

Jim and his wife, Lynn, own and operate the “Inn at Three Ponds” in Londonderry.

Jim works with Londonderry and the surrounding communities to produce activities for persons of all ages. Bondville holds it’s annual fair the end of August. Peru has an annual fair Sept. 22. This year will be the first year for a Pumpkin Decorating Contest and Scarecrow decorating Contest for the fall season. Also, on December 14 & 15th the public will be invited to a holiday Christmas Inn tour that will highlight the beautiful decorations of the Londonderry area country Inn’s.

In addition to special events, there are shops in town, restaurants, Inn accommodations and outdoor recreation. Londonderry is only a few miles from three major ski resorts, Magic Mt, which boast the best vertical drop for snowboarders and skiers alike. Straton Mt and Bromley Mt. are only six miles away and OkemoMt at Ludlow, is a short 20 miles.

For a change of pace, a visit can also be made at the nearby Weston Priory, a Benedictine Monastery, three miles north of Weston. The brothers are noted for their beautiful music and daily prayer in a pristine location.

For the outdoors person there are nearby campgrounds and state parks, two of which are in Jamaica and Lowell Lake, which is located near Magic Mt.

Camera enthusiasts should check out the beauty of the flowing West River. The area is ideal to experience the rustic charm of the fall foliage season.

South LondonderryHistorians may be interested in Londonderry’s active Historical Society. Curator, Patty Wiley is a descentent of one of the towns first families. Of special interest is the Society’s Museum, located in the Custer-Sharp House (circa1840), out on the Middletown Road. Bernadine and Arthur Sharp donated the house and its two acres to the Historical society in 1992. The Historical Society has made renovations to the barn to house cultural and social activities. Formerly housed in the town office building, the Historical Society relocated to the Custer-Sharp House in June, 2000. The Museum is open during the summer by appointment or on Saturday 10AM to noon. The barn is available for functions upon request.

Story by Bette Reynolds
Edited by Sabrina White
Historical postcard and photo courtesy of Patty Wiley

Grafton – A Step Back in Time

By Bette Reynolds

The man for whom the town of Thomlinson is named never visited the United States, much less Thomlinson. John Thomlinson, was a business representative of the British governor of New Hampshire, Benning Wentworth. Wentworth granted a charter in 1754 to the town of Thomlinson before the French and Indian Wars.

A group of Grafton children celebrate Flag Day dated 1911. They are standing on the front step of what is now the current Post Office and Town Hall. At the time the photo was taken, the building served as the library. Photographer unknown, image courtesy of Jennifer Karpin of Grafton Homestead.

The townsfolk thought they should rename their town. On Halloween, 1791, the honor of renaming the town was sold at public auction to a resident, Joseph Axtell, for the highest bid of five dollars and a jug of rum. He named it after his hometown of Grafton in Massachusetts. Uncoincidentally, this is the name of a local best-selling book, Five Dollars and a Jug of Rum, available at the Grafton Historical Society and other locations in the area; this is a history of Grafton.

Grafton was the home of Daisy Turner, descendent of slaves, age 104 in 1987, whose quote “Every one of those turning battles (Civil War), where victory was won, it was the Vermont boys who were there.”

In more modern times, a Budweiser television commercial was filmed complete with a team of eight Clydesdale horses in March 1986 for a Christmas scene. In 1987, the Chevy Chase film, “Funny Farm” was being filmed in the area and a local citizen’s home was used for the movie character’s house. The film crew meticulously decorated the building and lawn for winter, complete with plastic snow and icicles; cotton batting over rooftops and fences and the next day eight inches of heavy wet snow fell.

On my return visit to Grafton, I was delighted to meet the owners of The Grafton Homestead, Jennifer Karpin and Draa Hobbs. Draa also happens to be a jazz guitarist who performs throughout New England. The Grafton Homestead was built in the 1830’s, a short distance from Grafton Village. They offer a downstairs Morning Glory Room, or an upstairs three room suite with private entrance for your getaway.

Another splendid retreat is the Farmhouse ‘Round the Bend Bed and Breakfast, circa 1844. The bed and breakfast proprietors are Barry and Joan Shade. They are located on Route 121, one-third mile east of the village. They offer three guest rooms, one of which is aptly named The Blue Room Suite with a cozy sitting room. They also welcome children, ten years and older.

Grafton is the location of two fine real estate companies, Barrett & Company Realtors and Hughes Associates, Realtors. Barrett & Company Realtors takes its name from a prosperous ancestor, Captain John Barrett, who settled in Grafton in 1805 as a storekeeper. Barrett & Company Realtors is located on Main Street. Hughes Associates is located on Four Chimneys Road and specializes in Grafton property and surrounding areas.

A most fascinating attraction in the village on the Townshend Road is the Nature Museum. The director is Steve Lorenz. You’ll want to bring your camera and the children to view their innovative and interactive exhibits.

A unique antique shop makes its home in Grafton. Grafton Gathering Place Antiques, located off Route 35 on Eastman Road between Grafton and Chester is a two-story country barn. Peter and Mary Dill stock early country and period furniture and accessories.

“A most amoosing shop” in the old Firehouse is Firebarn/ Food & Stuff featuring gifts, Lionel trains, gourmet groceries, maple syrup and many other items, and is run by Pat Mack and her employee Phil Babcock.

I was fortunate to arrive on a Sunday afternoon and heard the oldest (1867) continuously performing Vermont band, the Grafton Cornet Band, rehearsing upstairs, as they have been doing since1939.

If all of these wonderful places and things aren’t enough to entice you to explore Grafton then I’ll mention one more place not to be overlooked, The Rusty Moose on Pleasant Street. Craftspeople Payne and Elise Junker, and their employee Margery Heindel invite you to visit their crafts gallery. Yes, there really is a Rusty Moose, he stands outside the shop! They offer unusual metal art, hand made soaps, pottery, scarves, jewelry and more.

The Vermont Covered Bridge Museum

Vermont Covered Bridge Museum in Bennington

Vermont Covered Bridge Museum in Bennington

Bennington, VT: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow described a covered bridge as a “brief darkness leading from the light to light.”

Vermont Covered Bridge Museum in Bennington The Covered Bridge Museum at the The Bennington Center for the Arts offers exhibits on the history of covered bridges in Vermont. Discover the history and legends of these wonderful structures in the world’s only museum dedicated to their preservation. Explore the exhibits on engineering, construction, tools, and creators. Build and test your own bridge designs on the computer work stations after viewing two video theatre productions on the past and present construction techniques and uses of covered bridges. A working model railroad shows the six Vermont railroad bridges while the museum’s interactive kiosk is available to plan your own tour of Vermont’s remaining covered bridges, five of which are nearby. Finally, marvel at the art and analysis of covered bridges by famous artist, Eric Sloane before browsing in the museum shop.

Enjoy your experience at The Vermont Covered Bridge Museum. While you are there, make sure to visit the additional displays and exhibits on view at the BCNCA, stroll the grounds, or simply enjoy the sweeping views.

Visit the Vermont Covered Bridge Museum’s web site

A Very Suitable Marriage

Games like the English language are constantly evolving. Some evolve from the first successful game into others very similar. Some evolve several times before becoming popular. And sometimes, although rarely successful, there is a combination of two games into one.

GO is probably the most ancient game in the world. Confucius recommended the game to the rulers of his time. Perhaps spurred by the popularity of the movie A Beautiful Mind, or the book The Master of Go, this simple game of subtle complexities is once again capturing the imagination and devotion of hundreds of new players. The game board became the gameboard for the very popular game called Pente.

PARCHEESI was a game played in India with harem girls as pieces, and has evolved with every generation of Americans since it was first introduced. It became Broadway, Pollyanna – the Glad Game, Wahoo, Aggravation, Sorry, Trouble, Tock, Ludo, Homeward Bound and at least a dozen other games.

Some games go through numerous versions until one “sticks”. Take Scrabble. Originally an idea by Lewis Carroll in the 1800’s, Scrabble was designed by a man named Alfred Butts in 1931. Alfred made a game, which he called Lexiko. No one, neither Parker Brothers nor Milton Bradley was interested. He refined the game and renamed it Criss Crosswords. Too “highbrow” the reviewers said. Finally in 1948, a friend, James Brunot, offered to make the game. He renamed it “Scrabble” and began producing about 16 sets a day from a little red schoolhouse in Newtown CT. After a few years he was about to drop the game because sales were so slow. Then one week in July 1952 orders jumped from 200 to 2,500. And the rest is history. The games that evolved from Scrabble were many – among them Upwords and Pick Two.

Cribbage, on the other hand, evolved from a game seldom heard of any more. It is impossible to say exactly how old cribbage is, but the 17th century author of “Brief Lives”, John Aubrey, states that “Sir John Suckling invented the game of Cribbage”. Since the board was clearly adapted from earlier dice-game scoreboards and the rules of play appear to be descended from the English card game Noddy, perhaps Sir John Suckling only codified the game. During his lifetime Sir John was a poet, a well known courtier, and card player. He also liked to cheat and apparently made twenty thousand pounds this way. The speed of the game has made it popular throughout the years as a game for sailors. The four handed version is no longer as popular as it was in Victorian times when Charles Dickens wrote about it in “The Old Curiosity Shop”. Dickens’s Mr. Quilp, like Sir John Suckling, was a cheat. Cribbage players often turn into collectors, trying to find the most unusual cribbage boards.

In 1999, a Canadian game made an unassuming appearance at the New York Toy Fair. It was KINGS CRIBBAGE and it was a surprising marriage of the tried and true games of Scrabble and Cribbage. The game played on a board following the basic rules of Scrabble, so it was almost unnecessary to even read the instructions. After all, everyone has played Scrabble at one time or another. Instead of spelling words, the players put down Cribbage hands and scored points exactly as if they were counting their hands in a Cribbage game.

One’s first impression was that cribbage players wouldn’t find it as good as playing a game of cribbage and that the game would be destined for quick extinction. “It will never fly.” was one comment overheard that year. However, once someone played the game there was an instant addiction. The game brought new complexities to cribbage that delighted players and made them true fans. Not only that, it became a way for people who thought cribbage to complicated to learn to become familiar with the scoring pattern of cribbage.

Some “marriages” of games, while popular, don’t really offer more than the original games they came from and are “hot games” for awhile and then the “hot game” moves onto something else. KINGS CRIBBAGE was a truly new game that slowly won lifetime fans and it is obviously destined to become a standard classic game. Truly, it was a very suitable marriage.

Relax and Enjoy the Valley Villages of Londonderry and Weston

By Bette Reynolds

The Gazebo on the green in Weston

Nestled between the West River and three major ski resort mountains, in what is affectionately nicknamed “the Golden Triangle”, are Londonderry (established 1780) and Weston (established 1799), plus a half dozen other quaint towns and villages.

The three “great escape to the mountains” ski resorts are Stratton, Magic, and Bromley, only minutes away from the towns of Londonderry and Weston.

For a change of pace, a visit can be made to the nearby Weston Priory, a Benedictine monastery, three miles north of Weston. The brothers are noted for their beautiful music and daily prayer in a pristine location.

A most beautiful accommodation in South Londonderry on Route 100 in the village is the 1826 former Melendy Dairy Farm, which is now the Londonderry Inn. The homestead was turned into a country inn during WWII in 1942. The 25 room inn sits majestically on a knoll overlooking the sparkling West River and Glefe Mountain. Your hosts are Chrisman and Maya Kearn. In addition to her innkeeping duties, Maya Sarada Kearn is an expressionist painter and has her work on display and on sale at the inn’s gallery. She offers acrylic on canvas, watercolor on paper, murals and furniture art in addition to textile creatures.

In nearby Londonderry is the Magic View Motel, hosted by Lee Hafke, and the Frog’s Leap Inn, also in Londonderry, with hosts Kraig and Dorenna Hart. In the town of Landgrove is the Landgrove Inn, operated by Maureen Checchia.

For your choice of exquisite lodging in Weston, there is available for your pleasure, The Inn at Weston. The innkeepers are Bob and Linda Aldrich with Scott Hendricks, innkeeper/wedding officiant and Max Turner as the executive chef.

The inn is situated on six manicured acres near the West River and includes two buildings, the Main Inn, the Coleman House and a barn that are reminiscent of the mid 1800’s. The original building, which includes the dining area, was build in 1948 as a working farmhouse with connecting stable and barn. Speaking of stables, the Pfister Farm in Landgrove owned by Carl Pfister offers year round activities with his Belgian and Pencheron horse teams to delight you in spring, summer and autumn with carriage and wagon rides and whisk you away in a sleigh in the winter.

Now if you are really serious about putting down roots in one of these serene areas, then I suggest you contact Mary Mitchell Miller Real Estate for available rentals or to purchase property. Hilary and Alan Chalmers or Claudia Harris will meet you and your needs with local real estate and are located in the village of Weston.

Finally, don’t forget to stop by the Weston Marketplace for all of your daily supplies and gasoline for your vehicle.

Chester: Gateway to the Green Mountains

By Bette Reynolds

The friendly and thriving village of Chester, established in 1776, is located northwest of Rockingham, VT on Route 103, near the Williams River.

Main Street today.

Main Street Chester today is alive with shops and eateries

Nearby off of Route 103 at Brockways Mills is Rockingham, VT, and on the Williams River Road is the Inn at Cranberry Farm. Just reaching the inn is a pleasure: one travels on a very well-maintained dirt road and through the Worrel covered bridge, and perhaps you will be lucky, as I was, and travel parallel, or in the opposite direction, with the Green Mountain Flyer en route to Chester.

Once one has climbed the gently sloping road, you will notice the cathedral-like presence of the structure. The exquisite building rests on 60 acres of meadow and forested hillside, which boasts a swimming pond.

The innkeepers Carl and Pam Follo with sister Josie Colarusso maintain 10 guest rooms and a separate addition of four suites with all of the amenities, such as massage tubs, telephone, TV, air conditioning, fireplace, and individual private decks

Main Street circa 1912.

Main Street circa 1912. Looking east from Carpenter’s Dry Goods store, Chester, Vermont. Historic postcard courtesy of Chris and Ann Curran.

While shopping in downtown Chester, stop in at the Hugging Bear Inn & Shoppe, owned by Georgette Thomas, who stocks over 10,000 teddy bears.

Across the street is another beautiful Victorian building which houses resident chef Keith Turner’s casual fare restaurant, Raspberries and Thyme.

A new business in town is the Chester Music Shoppe on Main Street, owned by Gary and Domenica Coger. They carry new and used CDs, vinyl, DVD and VHS in addition to instruments, sheet music, and accessories.

On Route 11, one mile north of Chester is a cozy, charming establishment, Motel in the Meadow, managed by Pat and Ron Budnick. A gift shop is on site and has many Vermont products up for sale.

Now what outing is complete without a stop at an antiques shop? The Stone House Antique Center with helmsman Andy Esser offers 20,000 square feet of a variety of antiques, collectibles, folk art, primitives, and much more.

John’s Car Corner: A VW Owner’s Paradise

By Bette Reynolds

John Hamill, owner of John’s Car Corner stands next to a newer model VW Bus.

John’s Car Corner truly is the home of “The People’s Car,” as the car is still affectionately called. While it is fortunate that the originator of the phrase back in the 1930s (Germany’s then dictator Adolf Hitler) is no longer with us, we are equally fortunate that the Volkswagen is, and perhaps is even more popular than ever.

VW bugs first began to appear in our country in the early 1960s. Popularity grew slowly at first, as American drivers were still in love with muscle cars such as the GTO and the Mustang. Volkswagens were very gas efficient, but gas wars had driven the price of gasoline down to 30 cents a gallon and less, and nobody at that time was worried about the supply.

Things began to change toward the end of the 1960s. The Federal government invested billions into the new Interstate Highway System, making driving everywhere and anywhere easier than ever before. More and more people drove cars, and with the oil embargo in the 1970s, gas costs rose. Suddenly the inexpensive, economical VW was becoming very popular!

All of this brings us to John’s Car Corner. John Hamill began to repair and service VW’s in the mid 1960s. John expanded and opened a used VW dealership in 1974, buying and selling a car he truly loved. John moved to his current location on Route 5 in Westminster in 1984. John has opinions on all Volkswagens, but will tell you “the heart and soul of the whole Volkswagen scene is the Type II, which is the Transporter, camper, van combination.”

John easily has the largest new and used VW parts and accessories inventory in the Tri-State area. Even better, John is always ready to help with information and advice for your specific VW needs. You can stop in and visit over a cup of coffee, always freshly brewed. John remarks that all models and years are covered, and he has an extensive VW library. Inside, the walls, shelves, and cases are filled with memorabilia on display. One print on the wall at John’s Car Corner depicts a tour of Germany’s Wolfburg VW Motorworks in the mid 1930’s. This is the factory that produced the tough, fuel economical basic “bug”, and the convertible model.

Available at John’s is everything Volkswagen; from key chains to floor mats – anything you might need to personally outfit your own VW.

The VW has done a lot of growing up since the Flower Power 1960’s and “Herbie the Love Bug.” Today’s VW’s are a classic made modern while staying true to it’s original roots as “The People’s Car.”

Are you a VW fan? Or are you simply a fan of the automobile in general? You will find yourself in good company at John’s Car Corner.

Exploring the Burgs of the Green Mountain National Forest

By Sharon O’ Connor

Indian Rock

The entire state of Vermont was cited as one of the “Top 50 Destinations of a Lifetime” in the bi-centennial issue of National Geographic Traveler! Discover why our state enjoys this prestigious status: take an afternoon to explore backroads deep within the Green Mountain National Forest. On this route you will get a sampling of the entrepreneurship of our people, the simplicity and allure of our quaint villages and the serenity and splendor of the wilderness.

All of this brings us to John’s Car Corner. John Hamill began to repair and service VW’s in the mid 1960s. John expanded and opened a used VW dealership in 1974, buying and selling a car he truly loved. John moved to his current location on Route 5 in Westminster in 1984. John has opinions on all Volkswagens, but will tell you “the heart and soul of the whole Volkswagen scene is the Type II, which is the Transporter, camper, van combination.”

Larry the Llama

Start at the junction of Routes 11 & 30 (a few miles east of Manchester). Follow Route 30 East 1.3m and notice a colorfully creative Indian face painted on a roadside boulder. Turn left onto French Hollow Rd. (3/10m), bear right and proceed 2.8m, turn left then quick right into driveway with the name “Eustace.” This is the home of French Hollow Alpacas, owned by Bob & Lou. Please call 802-297-9353 before arrival; they will enthusiastically introduce you to their “pets” and their alpaca business, which supports Vermont and American fiber mills. Alpacas are gentle, graceful members of the camel family; their fiber is 2nd softest in the world, surpassed only by the vicuna. You’ll have a chance to touch the animals, learn about their habits and uses, plus view a plethora of alpaca products. Ask to see Larry, the guard llama; he loves to have his picture taken with people.

When leaving, turn left, go 4/10m & make a right. Notice Stratton Mtn. looming in the distance (1.7m). The Indian name for Stratton is Manicknung, translating to “Home of the Bear.” Turn left (1.8m); follow to Rt. 30, make a left entering the burg of Bondville (1.8m). Winhall Market greets you with the aroma of barbeque chicken, baked goods and VT-made delights. Just past the market, turn right onto Stratton Access Rd. and park in the lot 3.7m in on the right. Stratton was founded in 1961 and has grown into a 4-season resort area and mecca for hikers and mountain bikers. Visit the mountaintop, via the gondola, for spectacular mountain/valley views. At the base, the Swiss-like village is dotted with unique shops and eateries.

From the parking area, turn right and proceed down the lesser-traveled backside of the mountain (1.8m) bearing right onto Pikes Falls Rd. Follow this about 2.5m to Rt. 30, turn right and go 1/4m, and visit the Butterfly Heaven/Bird Aviary. This family-run establishment is a world “set apart.” Walk among exotic butterflies, birds, fish and more in a 3000 sq. ft. indoor tropical paradise.

Travel back to your starting point; turn west on Rt. 30. Explore Jamaica with buildings dating to the 18th and early 19th century. Jamaica State Park is believed to have been an Abenaki Indian Village with archeological evidence dating back to “before the white man!” The park is the site of the National Canoe & Kayak Championships held in May. A hiking trail to the exotic Hamilton Falls starts here; ask the ranger for a map and hiking conditions. Proceed west on Rt. 30 passing “Horses for Hire” (4.7m) offering wooded trail rides. Just beyond, Outback Steakhouse is a hide-away which has a riverside deck for hungry or thirsty travelers.

Route 30 West will bring you back to the starting point & offers a wonderful view of the slope-sides of Bromley mountain.

Sharon O’Connor is a regular contributor to THIS IS VERMONT and is our resident backroads expert. Sharon has been in love with Vermont ever since she first visited and is owner of Backroad Discovery.

Take a Hike in Bennington

By Steve Hinchliffe

The Green Mountains run the length of Vermont and are a part of the Appalachian Mountains, which extend north through Canada. The Appalachian Trail is the world’s longest linear National Park and extends 2,150 miles from Georgia’s Springer Mountain to Katahdin in Maine. Paralleling the Appalachian Trail for 100 miles is the Long Trail. The Long Trail follows the main ridge of the Green Mountains for more than 270 miles, from the Massachusetts line to the Canadian border. An additional 175 miles of side trails complete the 445-mile Long Trail system. The Long Trail was built between 1910 and 1930 by the Green Mountain Club, and is the oldest long-distance hiking trail in the country. One of the many day hikes in the area exposes visitors to both of these great treasures:

Kids in the Woods

The Long Trail/Appalachian Trail intersect Route 9 only 4.5 miles east of Bennington. Rated moderate in Green Mountain Club’s “50 Hikes in Vermont”, Harmon Hill starts with a steep ascent up a series of stone steps. After 1/2 mile, the trail levels out and continues through a combination of thick forest and open meadows. At its 2,325 foot summit, you will find views of the Bennington Monument, the Taconic Range, and Mount Anthony. The total distance is 3.7 miles and is best enjoyed during the summer and early fall.

Before venturing out on any hike, be sure to check with your local outfitter to be updated on trail conditions. Several excellent guide books are available and are a valuable tool before, during and after your hike. The proper clothing and equipment will help insure a pleasurable experience and memories to hold until your next visit to the Green Mountains.

 

All Aboard! A Ticket to Adventure on the Green Mountain Railroad

By Bette Reynolds

Photo by Kathy Cloutier

This summer plan to hop on board all three Green Mountain Railroad excursion trains. They have added to their Green Mountain Flyer schedule (which covers Bellows Falls and Chester) the new White River Flyer, running from White River Junction to Norwich’s Mountshire Museum. A third train, The Champlain Valley Flyer, runs from Burlington to Shelburne. All provide wonderful scenic outings with a historical flair perfect for the whole family.

Special "Mystery Train" sponsored by a bus group charter included passengers dressed in period attire. Photo by Bruce Cloutier.

Special “Mystery Train” sponsored by a bus group charter included passengers dressed in period attire. Photo by Bruce Cloutier.

At the Green Mountain Flyer is a friendly, knowledgeable conductor, Bruce Cloutier, a former grade school teacher and Keene State College instructor. He began training, pardon the pun, with the Green Mountain Railroad in 1989 and began working full-time, forty hours a week in 2001. Bruce’s enthusiasm and expertise in his craft will immediately put any first time travelers completely at ease.

When you board the Green Mountain Flyer, you will be riding in fully restored 1930’s passenger coaches pulled by a vintage diesel locomotive. The antique coaches feature windows that open for Vermont fresh air and breathtaking scenery. The many scenic treats on the round trip ride between Bellows Falls and Chester include the Connecticut and Williams Rivers, and views of two covered bridges, the Lower Bartonsville and the Worrel bridges, respectively.

The Chester Depot Station was built in 1872 and was restored in the 1980’s. A “must do” on your outing is to stop and browse at the Depot Square Gift Shop at the train station in Bellows Falls. They offer everything from Vermont state welcome tiles to train Christmas tree ornaments.

Conductor Bruce Cloutier switching tracks. Photo by Bette Reynolds.

Conductor Bruce Cloutier switching tracks. Photo by Bette Reynolds.

The Depot Station also has display and exhibits as well as historic photos, and of particular interest, two prints on loan to the shop: one is of the Square in Bellows Falls at Christmas, circa late 1930, and the other is of a steam engine being loaded with coal.

To add some movie trivia, the Green Mountain Railroad has been the location for several popular movies. In 1998, the movie “The Cider House Rules”, in which Michael Caine won a supporting actor Oscar in 1999, for portraying a doctor in an orphanage, while struggling with an ether addiction. A Jim Carrey film, “Me, Myself and Irene,” with his then girlfriend Renee Zellweger, had a few scenes with the railroad freight cars in South Burlington. The late, great, Oscar-winning actor James Coburn’s last film “American Gun” was partially filmed at the Chester Depot with a WWII backdrop.

So when in Vermont, wherever you are, you will be close to one of the three Green Mountain Railroad excursion trains. Treat yourself and the whole family to a wonderful way to experience Vermont. Hop on board!

The Game is Afoot!

By Martha Folsom

“Come, Watson, come!” he cried. “The game is afoot.” Thus would begin a great mystery. Mr. Holmes also recognized the game inherent in the chase.

Sherlock Holmes found his way into literature in 1887. Within two years Americans were playing a board game called Game of Detective published by R. Bliss and we have been sleuthing our way around mystery games every since. In 1904 the first of many Sherlock Holmes games was produced. He more recently made an appearance in the game 221B Baker Street The Time Machine published in 1996. Next to Mr. Holmes, perhaps the most renowned mystery character in the world of games, is Mr. Ree. Now out-of-print and known only to game collectors, Mr Ree was published for 29 years from 1937 to 1966. (Quite a long life in the world of games) In 1967 Case of the Elusive Assassin was designed by Sid Sackson and published by Ideal Games.

Sid Sackson (1920-2002) was known by many people in the game world as “the greatest game designer in the world.” Certainly he was one of the most prolific and America’s premier game designer without question. Throughout his adult life, he designed more than 700 games, nearly 150 of which were published in his lifetime. His 1962 game Acquire has become a classic in it’s own time, and was inducted into the Games Magazine Hall of Fame. No longer available, Sackson’s game Can’t Stop was the fastest selling game in Parker Brothers history.

In 1971, Sid Sackson redesigned the Case of the Elusive Assassin eliminating the board and transforming it into a card game. Renamed SLEUTH, it was published by 3M. This classic game of deduction presents a case in which a valuable piece of jewelry is missing. Through strategic questioning, you gather bits of information and skillfully discover the clues to solve the mystery. Even though SLEUTH had gone out of print it was fondly remembered and after Sackson’s death in 2002 arrangements were made between his family and a newly formed game company to reproduce the game. Once again mystery fans can enjoy this great card game.

In Britain a mystery game named Cluedo had become extremely popular. In 1948 Parker Brothers licensed the game to produce it in the US and it became Clue. Clue has undergone many changes in its graphics over the years. There have also been licensed Clue games featuring everyone from Alfred Hitchcock to The Simpsons. However, the ever popular and sought after 1949 original board has been reproduced and is still available for its many loyal fans.

One of the newest entries into the shadowy world of mystery games is the elegant Mystery of the Abbey. Both beautiful and extremely playable this game appeared in 2003. While it follows the pattern of Clue, in that a murder has been committed and the players must determine the doer of the terrible deed; game players will find that Mystery of the Abbey offers the opportunity for intelligent questioning and moves with a more satisfying speed towards its conclusion.

Another difference between Mystery of the Abbey and Clue, is the addition of cards, which affect the moves that the players can make. While it takes an hour to an hour-and-a-half to play, the play feels more rapid and satisfying. It is also more intense as players sense their opponents gleaning an insight from some small remark. There is more sophistication and strategy than in a game of Clue. The board is beautifully illustrated with the names of the rooms of the abbey in Latin. Pawns are monk figures case in stone and there is a bell to ring to bring the players back to the chapel for an exchange of information. Even the suspect sheets are delightfully illustrated. Mystery of the Abbey makes an excellent family game as children as young as eight years old can play while adults find it immensely satisfying as well.

Mystery games are so much fun. You get to solve the crime, find the guilty party and be a hero without the tedious footwork of the real life detective. You don’t get rained soaked while on stakeout and you can still eat donuts while you deduce. Why be a real detective when you can get it all in a great game? Elementary, Dear Watson, you wouldn’t.

Martha K. Folsom is the current president of the Association of Game and Puzzle Collectors, an international organization devoted to the study and preservation of traditional games and puzzles. She also owns The Old Game Store, on Historic Route 7A in Sunderland, VT.

Fall Foliage Backroad and Revolutionary Tour

By Sharon O’Connor

Fall Foliage in Southern Vermont
By Sharon O’Connor

This spectacular 29-mile foliage tour covers back roads from Bennington to Manchester (you can also start at Manchester & drive south). You will be taking the basic routes used by the Green Mountain Boys during the Revolutionary War. They traveled north from Bennington to capture Fort Ticonderoga in May 1775 which was the first Colonial victory of the Revolution. Two years later, on August 16, 1777, the Green Mountain Boys went south through Manchester, and turned the tide at the Battle of Bennington. This victory prevented the British from capturing supplies stored in Bennington for the battle of Saratoga, the turning point of the Revolution.

Bennington Battle Monument

Bennington Battle Monument
By Sharon O’Connor

Start by visiting the top of the Battle of Bennington Monument, Vermont’s tallest structure, for spectacular mountain views. Proceed 500 yards south down Monument Ave. to the small monument for the Catamount Tavern (on the left). This is where Ethan Allen (leader of Green Mountain Boys) & others conceived the idea of capturing Fort Ticonderoga & using its cannons to drive the British from Boston. Proceed 500 feet to the photogenic Old First Church cemetery, which contains the graves of over 75 revolutionary war soldiers. The graves are marked with flags placed by the DAR. Robert Frost is also buried here. On the SE corner of Route 9 & Monument Ave, is a marker where Ethan Allen lived. The old house on the corner to the west is the former Walloosmac Inn (now a private residence) where Thomas Jefferson, writer of the Declaration of Independence, stayed.

Backtrack to the Bennington Monument; take a left at Walloomsac St. for 300 yards, then a right onto Fairview for about half a mile, then a right onto Silk. This takes you through the Silk Covered Bridge. After one & a half miles on Silk, cross the street to Mattison for about 300 yards, then go right onto Rice (for less than a mile) to historic route 7A (Ethan Allen Highway). Take a right (south) & go 300 yards to Hunter’s Grill for an awesome fall vista. Turn around & go north on 7A for about thirteen miles to Arlington which was once called “Tory Hollow” because so many British sympathizers lived in the area. Stop at the St. James Church cemetery where Ethan Allen’s wife & two children are buried. Go back 100 yards past the Norman Rockwell Gallery (Rockwell painted the Yankee Doodle mural) to East Arlington Rd. Go one block east on East Arlington Rd., noting the blue house with two markers, which indicate where Ethan Allen also lived. Continue for a little over one mile on East Arlington Road (taking a right at the Chippenhook Store) into quaint East Arlington. Past the Yankee Peddler & Bearatorium, the deep red house on the right was used to hide Tory sympathizers. Oddly, the gristmill next door had been built by Remember Baker (Allen’s cousin), an American Revolutionary hero.

Revolutionary headstones at the Old First Congregational Church in Bennington

Revolutionary headstones at the Old First Congregational Church in Bennington By Sharon O’Connor

Proceed back to the Chippenhook Store & make a right (north) for three & a half miles, passing through the Chiselville Covered Bridge. At Hill Farm Rd. go left 300 yards to the Ira Allen Cemetery. (Ira was Ethan’s brother) providing a dramatic view of Mount Equinox. Go back to Sunderland Hill Rd. (which becomes River Rd); turn left; go north four & a half miles passing the Battenkill River. At the end of River Rd., the land straight ahead is where the Green Mountain Boys camped the night of August 15, 1777 prior to going south to the Battle of Bennington. Turn right onto 7A & go 700 yards to the Equinox Hotel & Marsh Tavern where the Green Mountain Boys gathered. Marsh was the first Tory sympathizer to have his land confiscated to help pay for the revolution.

End your journey at the statue of the Green Mountain Boy opposite the Equinox. Notice how he faces west towards New York…Saratoga and Ticonderoga.

The Molly Stark Trail Scenic Byway

By Tordis Isselhardt

It’s official! Route 9, spanning Vermont from the New York State line west of Bennington to the New Hampshire State line east of Brattleboro at the Connecticut River, has been certified as “scenic” with things to see and do all along the way — something generations of travelers have known for years!

Back in September 1936 this stretch of road was dedicated as the Molly Stark Trail, with an historical pageant in Wilmington and cavalcade of cars from Bennington and Brattleboro over “forty miles of hard surfaced road, mud free and dust free, over hills and through valleys that were once a menace and a discouragement to the traveler.” It was already a favorite recreational excursion for the motoring public and the heavily traveled southernmost route across the Green Mountains.

In July 2003, Route 9 – by now re-engineered and resurfaced and relocated a number of times – was designated by the Vermont Transportation Board as the state’s third officially designated Scenic Byway, joining the Connecticut River and Lake Champlain Byways.

It was a long process. A citizen steering committee representing communities along the Byway met to discuss their mutual interest in seeking Byway designation with open meetings to resolve conflicting points of view. Representatives from the Bennington County and Windham County Regional Commissions provided staff support. An independent consulting firm prepared a comprehensive Nomination Package documenting that Molly Stark Trail Scenic Byway possesses all six possible intrinsic qualities: scenic, historic, recreational, cultural, archeological, and natural.

“From the New York State border, the byway traverses an agricultural landscape in the Valley of Vermont with stunning views of the Taconic and Green Mountain Ranges. Traveling east from Bennington, the Molly Stark Trail climbs into the Green Mountain National Forest.

After ascending nearly 2,000 vertical feet and passing through the scenic mountain towns of Woodford and Searsburg, the byway drops down into the Deerfield River Valley, home to the Harriman and Somerset Reservoirs, and the historic town of Wilmington.

Continuing to the east, the highway passes Molly Stark State Park and then reaches the breathtaking overlook at Hogback Mountain. A final winding descent out of the mountains leads through the hill farms and forest of Marlboro and into Brattleboro, where the Molly Stark Trail meets the CT River Byway.”
Brattleboro provides access to the CT River Byway – and historic buildings put to new uses. Historic postcard courtesy of Images From The Past.

Brattleboro provides access to the CT River Byway - and historic buildings put to new uses.

The consultants also prepared a mandatory Corridor Management Plan outlining how the resources will be protected, enhanced, promoted, and made available to the public, and every five years each Vermont Byway is reviewed to ensure that the intrinsic qualities that were used as justification for the original designation remain intact.

The Vermont Byways Program mirrors the national program to enable qualified byways to seek national designation as either an All-American Road or a National Scenic Byway. In 2005 the CT River Byway – 500 miles of roads on both the New Hampshire and Vermont sides of the river, just re-designated at the state level – submitted an application to become a National Scenic Byway. If successful, they will be assured national marketing exposure on maps and other publications, and on the National Scenic Byways web site at www.byways.org.

Once designated, state byways can apply for grants to pay for improvements along the corridor that will benefit and sustain the byway. The Molly Stark Trail Byway Council, successor to the initial steering committee, was awarded $138,573 in state enhancement grant funding in 2004. Once the appropriation bill is passed in Washington, money will flow to Vermont, and then to the Council.

One enhancement is already in place,. A bronze statue of Molly Stark, wife of the Revolutionary War General, John Stark, was dedicated in downtown Wilmington in June 2004, thanks to the generosity of a direct descendant.

Soon, travelers along the Molly Stark Trail Scenic Byways can look forward to a series of interpretive kiosks at sites in Bennington, Woodford, Wilmington, Marlboro, and Brattleboro; a brochure locating and describing byway highlights; a website; and distinctive byway signs to make their trip even more enjoyable and memorable!

Images From the Past Brings History To Life

In well-researched, richly illustrated books, Images from the Past brings people and places to life for readers. “Terrifically entertaining and informative popular history,” as one reviewer put it, but since our books are well grounded in solid research, it is also history you can trust. Our award-winning books shed new light on familiar historical events and personalities – and bring neglected ones out from the shadows.

Norman Rockwell At Home in Vermont; The Quotable Calvin Coolidge; Rudyard Kipling in Vermont; and Remembering Grandma Moses are among the most popular of our 20 books now in print. You can see them all on our web site www.imagesfromthepast.com

Historic postcard courtesy of Images From The Past

Browsing for Used Books in Bennington

By Telly Halkias

“WWe just don’t have bookstores like this back home!”

Indeed, second-hand bibliophiles are unique creatures of nature onto themselves. Coming from all different demographics, be it economic, political, age, religion, gender, race, it makes no difference: these are people are passionate about two things: reading, and a bargain.

Once in their used-book sanctuary, this common love for all things bound and printed seems to engender in them a willingness to open up on all sorts of ideas and topics. Quite often, and most likely with total strangers, they find themselves enmeshed in the vibrant give-and-take of symposia as broad as the past national elections, to as narrow as the proper technique for raising African violets. In the midst of this world of ideas, though, a common lament is often heard: places like this are disappearing. The ability to take refuge, even for a few minutes, in the shelter of books which seem to loyally stand guard on a way of life now slowly fading, cannot be measured in any way, except appreciation.

We explain to them that as long as this love exists, we will keep the fires burning. Vermont is a treasure trove of such cozy corners. Bennington’s landmark second-floor store, Now And Then Books, has seen many changes over the last quarter century, but remains as vibrant and relevant today as ever.

Our reads can be from the most esoteric – “I wonder if you have something on the engineering of canals and waterways in Holland during the early 1900’s?” – to the fleeting: “I’m leaving tomorrow for ten days in the Caribbean, and I need some seriously trashy beach reading to match my margarita intake!” Moments later, both these customers, a tourist and a local, male and female, leave the store happily clutching their new-found friends, while together discussing the challenges of raising school-age children. The used bookstore? Common ground indeed.

Of course, one store alone can’t find, or stock, everything, nor can it provide limitless opportunities at browsing surprises. However, in staying relevant, the next generation of second-hand book dealers now conducts rare and out-of-print book searches, takes special orders, markets aggressively, and leverages technology to get their customers the best possible deals. Not to mention sending you along to other local attractions, shopping, or recommending a great restaurant… in Bennington, there is plenty of everything!

Finally, if you’re traveling onto other points in Vermont, we are more than happy to refer you to specific used bookstores which are VABA (Vermont Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association) members at your point of destination, or along your route of travel, that may also scratch that itch for further treasures, and warm new friendships.

Telemachus C. Halkias, “Telly,” is a member of the Vermont Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association, a Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce Board Director, and owner of Now And Then Books, which is on the 2nd Floor of 439 Main Street in Bennington. At 50,000 volumes, it is the area’s largest used bookstore.
www.nowandthenbooksvt.com

A Gold Mine in the Green Mountains: Discover Park-McCullough

“Gold!” was the cry of the nation when Vermonter Trenor Park headed west to California with his wife Laura, and his daughter, Lizzie. A year earlier, Laura’s father, former Governor Hiland Hall, had been appointed by President Millard Fillmore to settle land claims on the new frontier. To be sure, the search for gold was a gamble, but Trenor Park was no prospector. This self-made lawyer amassed a fortune in enterprise reality and in the management of the mines of John C. Fremont.

To see the fruits of Park’s fortune, one must travel not to California, but to North Bennington, the secluded Vermont village where Park would build one of the most glorious country estates in New England. Atop a hill at the corner of Park and West Streets, Park-McCullough’s central cupola still rises 50 feet above nearby trees and homes. The splendor of this three-story, 42-room “cottage,” waits for visitors in its original 800-acre context.

The tradition of the “Big House,” as it is locally known, continued when Lizzie Hall Park married lawyer and future California Attorney General, John G. McCullough. He was a steamship and railroad magnate and in 1902 was elected Governor of Vermont. Thus, visitors to Park-McCullough will not only experience the grandeur of the estate, but also understand the extravagant lifestyle made possible through vast wealth obtained during San Francisco’s Gold Rush era, and later added to through business dealings in finance, railroads, steamship lines, and speculation.

Park-McCullough is a time capsule, preserving 100 years in the life of one family. Nearly all of the over 100,000 items in the collection, including artwork, furniture, artifacts, clothing, toys, and literature, belonged to the family and have remained in their original context within Park-McCullough for decades. The 19th century European artwork acquired by Trenor Park remains a vital part of the collection. The desk, embosser, inkwell, and ledger used by Governor John G. McCullough remain in his study. Lizzie’s portable writing desk and her many architectural and design renovations remain an intrinsic part of the Park-McCullough experience.

Changes made in the 1940s and 50s, such as linoleum flooring and a Hotpoint dishwasher in the butler’s pantry take their place next to the magnificent Victorian furnishings. Personal items such as hairbrushes, books, pictures, eyeglasses, puzzles, and stereoscopes, show that this majestic mansion was also a family home.

Park-McCullough is not just a house; the surrounding buildings, grounds and gardens are an important part of the experience at the estate. The original 1865 carriage barn houses horse-drawn buggies, carriages, and sleighs. Guests can also see the wood-paneled horse stalls and grooming area, as well as the 6-bay garage added for the family’s first automobiles. The past steps on the heels of the present at Park-McCullough when weddings, concert series, receptions, croquet leagues, meetings, cocktail parties, and other special events take place in the gardens, in the carriage barn, and on the wicker-furnished veranda.

Park-McCullough is a unique treasure that documents a grand and glorious time in America’s history-no visitor leaves disappointed. The mission of Park-McCullough House Association, Inc. is the preservation, conservation, and restoration of its buildings, grounds, and collections to be shared with the public for its education and enjoyment. For more information contact Park-McCullough at 802-442-5442 or www.parkmccullough.org

Robert Frost: Poetry, Prowess and Play

“Robert Frost: Poetry, Prowess and Play,” the current exhibit at the Robert Frost Stone House Museum, explores Frost’s interest in sports. Frost played softball and tennis well into his eighties and owed his longevity to the mile or two he walked every day. He often composed poems as he walked using the rhythm of his body to create the meter. Frost believed that poetry flowed more naturally from physical exertion than from sitting at a desk.

Frost once said, “I have always thought of poetry as prowess – something to achieve, something to win or lose.” “I look on the poet as a man of prowess, just like an athlete. He’s a performer.” To Robert Frost, life was a continual game of two sides in opposition that was resolved in a sort of play.

The poet was a player of words, “words that become deeds.” He played to win. The idea of friendly competition permeates Frost’s life and poetry. His “opponents” were fellow writers who vied for ideas, publishers, prizes and the attention of critics and academics.

Frost’s favorite baseball team was the Boston Red Sox; his favorite player was Ted Williams. After attending an all-star game in Washington in 1956, Frost wrote a story for Sports Illustrated, “A Perfect Day – A Day of Prowess.”

Frost’s analogy on tennis is famous: “I’d sooner write free verse as play tennis with the net down.” When it came to boxing, Frost once wished the writer had the same satisfaction as a champion fighter: to be declared winner with a knock-out punch. He said, “I hate prize fights where the victory is dependent on the referee’s decision; it seems too much like the arts.” His uncollected poem, “John L. Sullivan Enters Heaven,” is exhibited in autograph form.

The Robert Frost Stone House Museum is located on Historic Route 7A in South Shaftsbury, Vermont. It is open daily (except Monday) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The museum’s permanent exhibits feature Frost’s life and art in the historic house where he lived in the 1920s. The “Stopping by Woods Room” is totally devoted to Frost’s beloved poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” written at the dining room table on a hot June morning.

Picture of Robert Frost batting at Ripton VT, 1940 from the Peter J. Stanlis Frost Collection, Robert Frost Stone House
Picture of Robert Frost batting at Ripton VT, 1940 from the Peter J. Stanlis Frost Collection, Robert Frost Stone House

Was Vermont Ever A Colony?

By Tyler Resch
RR 1 Box 533 • North Bennington, Vt. 05257 • 802-447-7839

While many visitors admire what they think is Vermont’s “colonial” architecture, that term is subject to great dispute. One’s perspective depends on whether one believes Vermont was ever a colony.

Was Vermont a colony?

Surely it has never been a colony since it was given the name “Vermont,” which is short for the French words for “green” and “mountain.” If you think it was, then who was its colonial governor? And what country was its “mother”?

Only in the sense that this territory was once officially a part of New York can one argue that there was ever colonial status. We’re talking about the era between 1664 when King Charles II granted a large territory to his brother, the Duke of York – whose name the new province assumed – and 1777, when “Vermont” declared its independence.

It was out of the turmoil of this dispute with New York that the independent Vermont Republic emerged. Nobody’s colony, this little nation was self-sustained, complete with its own coinage, postal system, customs, regulation of weights and measures, naturalization of citizens, and correspondence with other governments. Its population was about 85,000. Vermont wanted to be a state, no question about it. Dummerston author Frederic Van de Water’s 1940s book accurately called it “the reluctant republic.”

Vermont became the fourteenth state in 1791 only after adjudication by a special commission, and payment of $30,000 by Vermont to New York to settle all pending land claims. As such, Vermont was the first to join the Union of the original thirteen. A convention of all towns in Vermont was held at Bennington early in 1791 and voted, not quite unanimously, to ratify the U.S. Constitution and thus qualify for statehood.

Statehood settled the conflict, as a matter of fact, with New York. But formal legal resolution did not occur until 1933 when the United States Supreme Court decided a boundary dispute between New Hampshire and Vermont. The court accepted as fact that Vermont had been created by citizens’ forcible resistance “which assumed the proportions of a revolutionary movement.”

Therefore, when you admire Vermont’s “colonial” architecture, think twice about the implications of that adjective. Most of what passes for “colonial” style is actually “colonial revival” anyway. That is what 19th-century esthetes wanted us 20th centuryites to think of as “colonial,” and many of us seem willing to fall into their trap.


An example of “colonial” architecture. Shaftsbury, Vermont