Why Did They Go Away?

The restlessness of Vermonters, says a native son, peopled many other states—but a solid core remains

Fifty years ago on a shelf of Monadnock Mountain in Essex County, Vermont, were the empty cellar of a house, the foundations of a barn, and the stubborn remains of an orchard. To us youngsters these things were the ruins of some ancient and extinct civilization, pervaded with the same mystery that held the excavators of Pompeii. The find of a bullet mold, or a pewter spoon, was an event comparable to the uncovering of the Temple of Apollo. There was also the melancholy of times past.

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Sidewheeler For Shelburne

A determined collector brings a steamboat to her museum of Americana—by rail.

In the gray of In late December, 1954, a traveler happening along Thompson’s Road, which skirts Shelburne Bay on the Vermont side of Lake Champlain, could have seen a steamboat suspended as if by sky hooks on a horizon of dry land. He might have dismissed this as a mirage or a fantasy, but as it happened there was a steamboat hanging on a horizon of dry land.Read more »

Thomas Jefferson Takes A Vacation

ON IT HE GAVE THE NEW nation a new industry, wrote a protoguide to New England inns and taverns, (probably) did some secret politicking, discovered a town that lived up to his hopes for a democratic society, scrutinized everything from rattlesnakes to rum manufacture—and, in the process, pretty much invented the summer vacation itself

BY THE END OF THE FIRST CONGRESS, IN THE SPRING OF 1791, Thomas Jefferson badly needed a vacation. The first Secretary of State disliked the noise, dirt, and crowds of the capital, Philadelphia, and the cramped routines of office work. He had suffered near-constant migraine headaches for fully six months; one cause of them may have been his growing struggle with Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, who had views opposite to Jefferson’s on almost every issue facing the new government.Read more »

In Windsor Prison

IT BEGAN AS America’s most modern penal institution, and for generations the Vermont State Prison reflected the changing ways by which we thought we should punish our wrongdoers. Then a tormented era and a ghastly crime combined to end its old career—and give it a surprising new one.


The official name for the various high school teams was the Yellowjackets, and their home backers called them the Jacks. Not so fans attending away games. At any Vermont gym or field but their own the players were referred to as the Prisontowners. Read more »

Vermont Vs. New Hampshire

They border each other, they look alike, and most outsiders have a hard time separating the two. Yet residents know the differences are enormous.

They’re like brothers who, as only the family knows, couldn’t be more different. With a landscape of open, rolling farmland and small villages with white-steepled churches, Vermont is the most rural state in the Union, according to Census Bureau statistics. From an environmental point of view, it’s also the most politically liberal.Read more »

Electra Webb And Her American Past

How a brave and gifted woman defied her parents and her background to create the splendid collection that is Shelburne

What do the following items have in common—a peerless collection of old American juilts, a 220-foot steam-driven side-wheeler, last of its noble race, and the exact replica of six beautiful rooms in a millionaire’s Park Avenue apartment? The answer is nothing except that they all can be found at one of the most amiable public places in America: the Shelburne Museum at Shelburne, Vermont—”35 buildings on 45 acres and the S.S. Ticonderoga ,” as the little guide to the place puts it.Read more »

The Man Of A Thousand Faces

PLYMOUTH , Vt, Dec., 1925-Up here in the cold, silent hills of Vermont, his old friends and neighbors are afraid that success may be spoiling Colonel John Coolidge’s son Calvin. As a boy, to be sure, he was regarded as a bit of a chatterbox, and his grandmother, Mrs. Galusha Coolidge, would lock him in the attic until he quieted down, but Amherst and law studies were supposed to have sobered him up. It was old Vermont speaking when he wrote his father that “I see no need of a wife as long as I have my health.” He was twenty-nine.Read more »

Lamplight Inauguration

In San Francisco Warren G. Harding lay dead, and the nation was without a Chief Executive. In the early morning hours, by the light of a flickering oil lamp, an elderly Vermonter swore in his son as the thirtieth President of the United States


In Vermont, the night of August 2, 1923, was definitely unusual. It was the hottest night of the summer and one of the sultriest ever recorded in Plymouth Notch, normally one of the breezier areas at the eastern fringe of the Green Mountain range.

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