I am starting this looking out in the rain to where mountains should be – but, alas between fog, rain and even sleet yesterday, I see nothing but a solid, unbroken sheet of light gray – which you will see in many images below. I had someplace I wanted to visit, and usually there is more than one way to get somewhere. The direct route most everyone else takes, but not my meandering way. That is what I did on May the first to get to Craftsbury Common, Vermont. Backroading I can state:
1] most old “main roads” (early small two lane – replete with potholes) follow flowing water
2] you must love maps, and know how to use them – yesterday my iPhone (for WAZE use) read “no service.” Not sure everyone is comfortable with that any more. But, “no service” means great exploring.
3] if you see a century old country store, stop to get a bite to eat or gas as it may be your last chance
Below is my two day route, and hopefully before I get home I will be able to purchase a pink marker to highlight my route (got one in Keene on Friday the 3rd) – click to enlarge, if so inclined.
I headed north part way on I-91, exiting at gateway 16 for Route 25 toward West Topsham – recommend exploring this route. Turned right off main road (ha, ha) to see East Corinth – nice early village (seen better days as have most of these parts – never saw so many roofs sitting on floors). Back on Route 25, I could not believe what I saw – antiques and architectural salvage – Tillotson Trading.
Definitely worth a stop – or special trip for that special need – check out their website. When chatting with the owners, and telling them where I was headed they said, “well, Beetlejuice was filmed just over the hill in the village.” Guess I must watch this 1988 cult classic comedy, and plan another visit.
Route 25 ends on US 302 where I turned right towards Groton. A nice run and mountainous. Of course I stopped to see the William Scott Monument, wouldn’t you? It proclaimed Scott was born on the farm here (reclaimed by forest probably 100 years ago). You know him as the Sleeping Sentinel, and if not, click on the monument to read, also on this link – thus, giving you a second chance. I took a look at Groton, then back to Route 232 towards Marshfield on US Route 2. RAY RECOMMENDS – experience Route 232 through nothing but state park and lakes. No telephone polls, but most amazing were the woods populated by glacial stones of all sizes – You have to see to believe.
Remember I said, “when you see it, stop and eat?” It was about noon, and I saw this “target of opportunity” the only thing really in Marshfield. I enjoyed a massive roast beef sub – almost a side of beef between the bread, and I swear I heard a couple soft moos with some bites.
Continuing north, now on VT 215 towards VT 15, when in the area you stop at the Cabot Creamery. A cooperative of dairy farmers (now approaching 2,000 in New England and New York) they are known for their cheddar cheeses. I enjoyed the 10 minute video (plant tours are no longer available) and the gift shop.
Here are some “moo-ving” facts I found fascinating. Click for easier reading.
Route 15 then to Hardwick, and Route 14 north to the turn for Craftsbury, and Craftsbury Common (my real reason for this trip).
Climbing up the hill you come first to “downtown” Craftsbury with the General Store and Post Office.
Climbing more, was my destination – Craftsbury Common
Why you ask? THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY, by Alfred Hitchcock, filmed here in 1954 and released (in Barre, VT) in 1955. Staring John Forsythe, and Shirley MacLaine in her first film role. And, Arnie, “the Beaver,” Jerry Mathers. One of those classic films I need to watch every year, and partially filmed here. I walked around the Common, and took some images which I have compared to frames from the film. Yes, much has changed, but much has remained the same. When the film crew arrived they were shocked to find the colored leaves had fallen early. Hitchcock’s solution – quickly glue colored leaves to the trees. You will enjoy reading about the filming in this somewhat remote location that you do have to “shunpike” out of the way to visit.
I had struggled where to stay for a night – yes, hard to find a B&B in the north woods, but then it struck me – experience the Trapp Family Lodge, and I booked a night. From Craftsbury Common I headed to Morrisville to pick up VT 100 south to Stowe.
A nice resort facility (not really “Ray’s thing”), but now I have stayed there. Here is the view from my window upon arrival – last time I saw anything but a gray wall.
Dinner was nice in the formal dining room (yes it is European to have eggs on your Wiener Schnitzel vom Schwein. Upon leaving I stopped at the Trapp cemetery next to the lodge
The Thursday plan was to revisit the Vermont History Museum at the Pavilion Building next to the Vermont State House. I was last there in September 2013, and told you “I enjoyed the museum and learned a great deal, and will tour again someday.” Today was the day. Parking in Montpelier is about impossible when the legislature is in session, but finally.
I loved the museum, spent a couple hours, took almost 30 images of exhibits and words for my future use, not to clutter this post with, but here is a Vermont Catamount –
Known elsewhere as a cougar, mountain lion, or puma – but in Vermont catamount – this animal was such a threat to livestock that it was almost hunted to extinction. Killed on Thanksgiving Day 1881, after quite a chase, this catamount threatened sheep in Barnard. It was considered the largest “Monster Panther” ever, and has been on display since 1886 at the Vermont State House and the Vermont Historical Society.
I really wanted to see the printing press on exhibit. Once considered (and I still believe it is – read my writing about it by clicking on this link) the first press in America, the museum staff now disputes that – but the debate continues – now going on 400 years. Below is the Stephen Daye Press – the first on this continent (much repaired), but considered by the museum as the Dresden Press – they are wrong!
The final plan for Thursday 2 May – Covered Bridges and a Floating Bridge – yes I said “floating bridge.”
I headed south out of Montpelier on Route 12 (check my map above). Remember what I said about “targets of opportunity?” I was hungry, it was almost 2PM – duh, and here was the answer – The Falls General Store in Northfield Falls. The cafe inside, appropriately named, Three Bridges Cafe, and you will learn why.
The road road to the side leads to three of Northfield Falls covered bridges, and the only covered bridges in Vermont that can be see in the same view.
you will see this nowhere else.
moving to the next
and, up the hill, around the bend is the third covered bridge within less than 1/4 mile.
driving back down to Route 12
If you are following my map, heading further south on Route 12, I turned right down a dirt road to the Slaughter House bridge – yes used to go to a slaughter house:
a perfect approach to a bridge – and you have to know it is there – looking at a map (paper copy that is).
Heading further south, WAZE helped me find – Stony Brook Covered Bridge – I absolutely could not believe the clarity of the water flowing – I just wanted to climb down and drink it.
It was then Route 64 east to dirt road south to Brookfield. Did I say “floating bridge?” Here is the only one in Vermont, in Brookfield. Recently rebuilt, it is again open for traffic.
you can click this image to read the Vermont historical marker better.
I walked across the bridge (and later drove across and back). You can see patient GiGi again waiting for my return.
Heading to Route 14, and turning south, below East Randolph I saw and traversed two more bridges – are you counting?
can the setting above be more perfect? And then back north a tad to an amazing road climbing up and over the mountain to Chelsea on Route 110 where I headed south to Tunbridge. If you look at the map, you will know why – 6 covered bridge symbols in this stretch of road. But, Vermont, you missed one – but not to worry I found it. First heading south (easier with no leaves on the trees – but remember to take any turn toward a river) I found the Moxley Covered Bridge.
heading south – in order – next was the Flint Bridge.
No quiz, but you will start to see a stark difference – outwardly – on the bridges in Tunbridge. Next is the Larkin Bridge, built in 1902.
Following the river with my eyes (and occasionally on the road – I am good at doing this – almost six decades of shunpiking experience), and with leaves off, I saw this in a valley, off Foundry Road – of course I circled down. I could live here.
Arriving in Tunbridge (Lil, where was your home?) just above the World’s Fair grounds is Mill Covered Bridge – a perfect setting.
But, wait. Two more covered bridges below the fairgrounds on Route 110 – yes, the best concentration of Covered Bridges in Vermont. Turning west south of the fairground is the Cilley Bridge.
And, last (and so close to the road I almost missed it) is the Howe Bridge – another perfect view.
Have you been keeping track? There are just over 100 covered bridges in Vermont, and in just miles I saw, photographed and crossed thirteen of them – better than 11 percent. Plus, I crossed 100% of the floating bridges in the State – what a claim, and one you can easily replicate. I cannot wait to visit again with BB1 or BB2 when the grass and trees are lush in green.
1 – Follow my route above – visit Craftsbury Common
2 – Avoid (Ray DOES NOT RECOMMEND) Route 100 from Morrisville to Stowe and south to I-89. Stowe has ruined bucolic Vermont as it is envisioned – in my opinion.
3 – Visit the Vermont Historical Musem in Montpelier
4 – Visit, at a minimum Tunbridge’s Covered Bridges.
Right near my family home in the Straffords! Still beautiful, and with the MOST beautiful town house!
It has been too many years since I visited Craftsbury/Craftsbury Common. My son attended Sterling College so we had many trips †o visit, usually staying in Morrisville where we had firends from Residency days at Yale-New Haven. Hardwick has changed significantly since those days; it was a down at the heels, depressed town in our days of driving through. Now I understand it has reinvented itself and has healthy marketplaces .
I agree that Stowe has been corrupted. I visited friends who have time shares at the Trapp Family Lodge. The Village has been reshaped by the Vail corporation (? not sure about name) as it has overwhelmed the former Stowe with multi-milliion dollare condo’s etc. All ugly!
I can see why you liked Tillotson Trading; great looking stuff on their website. The house next to the bridge off Foundry Road looks very welcoming with the smoke coming out of the chimney. I guess my question for you now is, why are bridges covered? Why not just…. build a bridge? Loved the floating bridge.Did they say what they do with it during the winter?
Covered Bridges are covered — to protect the wooded structure from the elements to prolong life. For winter sleigh use snow would be moved onto the roadbed for a surface for the runners.
Floating Bridge — used to be closed in the winter. This latest version (the 8th) has been constructed so serve year round I believe. Did not move at all as I walked, and then drove across.
Next question? Yours, RAY
another terrific trip through my native Vermont. Had family members from Morrisville, Stockbridge, Royalton and other towns. Growing up we had family trips all over Vermont. Thank you for
this wonderful story. Bill