I have finally met a road I did not like. Yes, Old Vernon Road, over the causeway passing through Hell’s Kitchen, narrow pavement turns to dirt (supposedly made for four-wheel drive – never stopped me before). I enter Satan’s Kingdom (just south of the Vermont / Massachusetts border). But wait, let me get you there first.
“How do you come up with these trips, Ray?” I have been waiting for you to ask. It is a combination of needed historical exploration, and a runaway curiosity. I cannot see a street sign saying: Depot Road; Potash Path; Mill Street; Quarry Lane; Town Farm Road, Canal Street; or the like without knowing what was once there, and may still be, so off I go. Todays’ trip came about from a newspaper article I clipped about a bicycle ride through Satan’s Kingdom and eventually past Gill Tavern – of course, in Gill, Massachusetts. I was intrigued and playing with my paper map figured: River Road down the east side of the Connecticut River; then over to Brattleboro and down Route 142 eventually to Turner’s Falls, but exploring Satan’s Kingdom. Then home on Route 63 through Massachusetts and New Hampshire. In planning, on my paper map a section of Route 142 in Vernon, Vermont, was marked Fort Bridgman (no e) Road. Had to have been another fort I knew nothing about – but only for moments.
I learned the fort was established as a colonial settler’s fort in 1737 in what is now Vernon. The website about forts said a monument marked where the fort was was on an unmarked dirt road, the other side of a corn field. I learned the fort was established as a colonial settler’s fort in 1737 in what is now Vernon. The site also said at the cemetery to the south on 142 would be a marker to Jemima Tute (Howe). Should be easy, right? Well, I past Jemima’s marker, but having seen nothing pulled into the library. The librarian sent me the other way. But back in Black Beauty I thought she was wrong, so reread the website, and went back north – back and forth. And, finally on a dirt drive next to The Vermont Mulch Co., I saw way to the rear the monument. No way to see from 142 once the corn is up. What history, read the plaque below
You should know that it was just two months later that there was an Indian attack and raid here in Walpole – but that story is in my new book, “Did You Know That? Explorations in Walpole, NH History.”
I had to stop and get this marker to share with you as well.
I then went down Governor Hunt Road since the librarian told me the 1779 Governor Hunt home had recently been purchased by a group to preserve and restore. Until recently it was owned by the now defunct Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant. I cannot wait to visit it when open, and signed up for their newsletter.
Continuing south on 142 I was watching for Old Vernon Road – HINT: when ever you see “old” with a road name, that is the old way for travelers, and usually with discoveries along the way. Turning right on the road, I crossed the causeway before reaching Hell’s Kitchen as indicated on the map, and once pavement ended knew that I had reached Satan’s Kingdom, so named after a resident of Northfield walked out of church where a sermon about the fires of hell had just been given. He saw a forest fire across the Connecticut River, and observed that Satan’s Kingdom was burning. One source I read says this undeveloped area is a State Forest, but. could not find a website about it. The road did not look bad…
but then going down a slight grade there was water, mud, and stone filling ruts. Looking now at the image below, it does not look as bad as it was. For some reason I was smart and stopped. Quick thinking, no cell service, bottom out and sink in mud – long walk to call for wrecker for recovery for which there is a hefty charge. Breaking down tows (up to 200 miles) are free. Looking again, it was the rocks that scared me – well the mud hole too – and then what is around the next bend. Actually the worst part is in the shadows of the image. Still cannot believe I turned around – well backed a long time before I could fit between trees to turn around.
Part of this trip was to see the Gill Tavern – I was impressed with their website, but they do not open to 4. I debated about taking a longer drive to Deerfield, and circle back when they opened, but was concerned about possible storms moving in (not yet it ends up). I had been in Gill only once before heading north on the road, and did not see the tavern. About 35 miles from home, I will get back.
I parked in Turners Falls walked around, went into a few shops, and had a late lunch. Always enjoy this village. Then back roads to Millers Falls to get Route 63 back north through Massachusetts and NH ended on Route 12 just miles from home. I always enjoy high elevation Chesterfield with its stone houses, and long views to the west to Vermont. Never shared images with you from here, so thought you would enjoy maybe the only stone post office I have ever seen.
and the Town Hall and the Library, also stone.
at the intersection of 63 and Route 9 is this fantastic stone tavern, now owned by the historical society. I helped the previous owner clean out his book shop, and he let me explore the building. Downstairs is the original tap room features; the second floor is the original ballroom with raised enclosed band stand, and perimeter seating, and in the third floor attic are the original sleeping quarters for the drovers who stayed overnight – JUST AMAZING – wish I had taken images there years ago. Maybe someday it will be open again.
and home – out about five hours, BLACK BEAUTY was happy clocking 88 miles, and we both were glad to get home when it was still only 88 degrees. I will be returning to experience the GILL TAVERN – like to join me? Stay well, yours, RAY