By Sharon O’Connor
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.
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.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.