This route through Bennington to Manchester offers scenic attractions of the first order. From Williamstown the Massachusetts State Highway is clearly indicated by blue markers to the State Line. Through Vermont this route follows a trunk line State Road with a gravel surface. At each township boundary the names of the towns are indicated by sign posts erected by the State Highway Commission.
The route leaves Williamstown by North St., taking the right fork at the foot of the hill, one half mile beyond crossing the Hoosic river, then passing under R.R. and along the north bank of the river above the picturesque intervales of Pownal Pass, with The Dome (2754 ft) on the right, following the route taken by George Washington on his visit to Bennington in 1790 to consult on Vermont’s admission to the Union.
Two and one half miles from Williamstown we cross the State line into Vermont.
4.8 POWNAL (R.15).
Bearing to the right upon entering Pownal and then taking the middle road at the triple fork the route leaves the valley of the Hoosic and climbs round the side of Mann Hill into Pownal Center (7.3), a crossroads village, and continues straight down the Jewett Brook valley with Carpenter Hill and maple-covered Mt. Anthony (2345 ft) on the left. Mt. Anthony is in Colgate’s Park, through which there is a good road. It was named from the chapel of St. Anthony, built somewhere at its foot by the fur-traders and Jesuits who came up the Walloomsac valley from Albany in 1540. In the north-eastern face there is a cave reached through a crevice.
13.5 BENNINGTON. Alt 682 ft. Pop 6211. County-seat of Bennington Co. Settled 1761. Mfg. knit goods, collars and cuffs, woolens, paper, machinery, optical specialties.
Bennington is picturesquely located on the Walloomsac river between Bald Mountain (2865 ft) to the east and Mt. Anthony to the west. It is a favorite summering place with broad shady streets and historic sites to increase its charm as well as the honor of supplying scenes for Owen Wister’s novel “The Virginian.” With native Vermont acumen the towns-people have also encouraged the growth of a surprising number of diversified industries, some of them more than a century old. Its name honors the memory of Governor Benning Wentworth of New Hampshire, who granted this land.
In Bennington Center, one mile west of Bennington, at the corner of Main St. and the Parade, is the bronze figure of a catamount on a granite pedestal, facing toward New York State. The site of the Catamount Tavern, built in 1766 and burned in 1871, is fifty feet from it. The sign was a stuffed catamount hung at the inn door as a hint to New Yorkers of the fate that would overtake them if they persisted in their attempts to seize Bennington lands. The climax followed in a skirmish or two in 1771-75. The Councils of Safety held by the Green Mountain Boys under Ethan Allen often met in this tavern (1767-91), and General Stark’s Council assembled here on the eve of Bennington Battle. Next door was Ethan Allen’s house, whither he returned with military honors after his imprisonment in England, 1775-78.
On an adjacent corner is the Walloomsac Inn, built in 1764, the oldest hostelry now open in Vermont. The builder and first landlord was the eldest son of Parson Dewey, first minister of the Old First Church, which still stands east of the inn and is the oldest in the State. The cemetery contains early graves with cherub-sculptured tombstones and curious epitaphs.
West of the Walloomsac Inn on Mt. Anthony Road is the mansion built in 1792 by Isaac Tichenor, one of the first U.S. Senators, and Governor of Vermont, nicknamed the `Jersey Slick’ in reference to his ready eloquence and New Jersey birth. At the head of the Parade is the homestead of General David Robinson, which has remained in the family ever since its erection in 1796. It contains one of the finest collections of antiques in the State, including General Robinson’s sword and hat and Colonel Baum’s sword and camp-kettle.
A granite boulder on Monument Ave. shows the site of William Lloyd Garrison’s newspaper office, where the famous abolitionist edited “The Journal of the Times” in 1828.
Bennington Battle Monument, the highest battle memorial in the world, is constructed of blue-gray dolomite, 37 feet square at the base and over 306 feet high, surmounted by a rod with a ten-pointed star 3 feet in diameter. Within are trophies, including Burgoyne’s camp-kettle. The monument is open daily, and is ascended by a staircase with broad sloping treads similar to Michelangelo’s stairway in the Farnese Palace at Rome. The outlook room is 8 feet square and 200 feet above the ground. Near its base is a stone marking the site of the storehouse which the British troops sought to seize. The battle ground is eight miles west on the road to Old Cambridge and Troy, N.Y. (R. 15).
North of the Battle Monument on the road to Manchester is the Vermont Soldiers’ Home. In its grounds is the highest natural single jet fountain known, registered by survey 196 feet. It is supplied from Bald Mountain, and was built by Seth B. Hunt.
The Mt. Anthony Golf Club is a mile north of the Center, near the monument. Fishing is good in several streams hereabouts, owing to the activity of the Bennington County Forest, Fish, and Game Association, which stocks the streams annually with hundreds of thousands of trout and perch, and provides public camps at some of the best fishing centers.
The Long Trail, Vermont’s vaunted pedestrian path laid out by the Green Mountain Club along the crests of the Green Mountains, begins here. At present the Trail has been completed between the Massachusetts line and Prospect Rock opposite the village of Manchester, between Killington Peak and Lincoln Mountain east of the village of Bristol, and between Camels Hump and the village of Johnson in the Lamoille Valley; arrows as well as `blazes’ mark the way at doubtful situations, and some shelter camps are provided. When finished there will be a well-marked path from the Massachusetts line near Bennington to the Canadian line near Jay Peak, North Troy, with continuations southward, it is hoped, through the Berkshires and the Litchfield Hills to the
Hudson Highlands, as well as northward into the Notre Dame Mountains of Canada.
Bennington’s founders were veterans of the French and Indian War. The town was typical of Governor Benning Wentworth’s New Hampshire grants with proviso that each settler develop his land, build a regulation house, and help build the meeting house, schools, mills, bridges, and roads.
From 1771 to 1795 Bennington made armed resistance against New Yorkes endeavor to claim territory. The battle of Bennington (Aug. 6, 1777) was the turning point of the Revolution. It led directly to Burgoyne’s defeat, which was followed by the recognition of the United States by Prance and other European countries. The object of the British forces, 600 Hessians and British with 150 Indians, under Colonels Baum and Breyman, was the seizure of the Colonial stores and provisions at Bennington. They entrenched on the heights in Hoosick, N.Y., north of the Walloomsac on the Bennington-Old Cambridge road, eight miles west of the monument. Brigades of patriots mobilized at Manchester, Vt., and at Bennington, and marched upon the enemy. Three bands of 300 each were sent by General John Stark of New Hampshire to attack the British rear and both flanks; the remaining 700 under Stark attacked the front. The British were forced to retreat with a loss of 207 killed, including Baum, 658 prisoners, and four brass field pieces; the Americans, although fighting in their shirtsleeves, ill-armed, and in many cases barefoot, lost but 40 killed and 30 wounded. `Gentleman Johnnye Burgoyne later declared that this defeat marked the beginning of his downfall.
The “fighting parson,” Thomas Allen of Pittsfield, cousin of Ethan Allen, joined General Stark before dawn on the day of battle. It was dark and rainy, but Stark assured the parson, “If the Lord once more gives us sunshine, and I donet give you fighting enough, I’ll never ask you to turn out again.”
As he led his men into position Stark cried, “There are the red-coats and they are ours or this night Molly Stark sleeps a widow!”
In 1775 the first iron forge in America for making nails was opened on Mill St., and in 1811 the Doty Cotton Mill was running on the site of the E. Z. Waist factory, and woolen mills were also in operation. Today these industries appear in the manufacture of knit goods by the Cooper Manufacturing Company, H. E. Bradford & Co., and others. The Holden & Leonard Company manufacture cloaks and suitings. Deposits of white clay and ocher are found in the township.
The route turns north from Main St. at Bennington Center, passing the Battle Monument and the Mt. Anthony Golf Club, and crossing the river by an old covered bridge. The road then climbs 200 feet in the next half mile and continues north-ward, leaving North Bennington in the valley to the west. Crossing the Bennington town line the road leads, a mile further, into
18.5 SOUTH SHAFTSBURY. Alt 711 ft. Pop (twp) 1650. Bennington Co. Settled 1763. Named for Earls of Shaftsbury. Mfg. squares and brush handles.
The Eagle Square Manufacturing Company perpetuates the business founded about 1812 by Silas Hawes, the inventor of the steel square, and here is also one of the largest brush-handle factories in the country.
This was something of a Tory hotbed at the outbreak of the Revolution. One of the parsons was admonished by two hundred lashes of the “Twigs of the Wilderness” to cease preaching against the patriots. In 1805 slavery in Vermont received its death blow when a Shaftsbury slave owner was ordered by Judge Theophilus Harrington to show a “Bill of Sale for his slaves from the Almighty God.”
The road leads on uphill through the village of Shaftsbury Center (22.0). To the left at the foot of West Mountain (2022 ft) are evidences of ancient sea beach; on the right are Hale and Trumbull Mountains. The fishing in the streams here is very good. After crossing a ridge and the town line the route descends the Warm Brook valley, crossing and recrossing the Rutland R.R. Spruce Peak (3060 ft) and The Ball (2715 ft) rise on the left.
28.5 ARLINGTON Alt 689 ft. Pop (twp) 1307. Bennington Co.
Settled 1763 Mfg. chairs, refrigerators, and wooden articles.
The Vermont State Seal was designed from a sketch of the westward view from Governor Chittenden’s house. The gorge of the Battenkill river to the west between The Ball and Red Mountain (2869 ft) permits the summer sun to light the town for an hour after it has set north and south of this gap.
Ethan Allen, the Vermont pioneer, and leader of the Green Mountain Boys, lived here for several years, collaborating with Dr. Young on an agnostic “Oracle of Man,” much akin to Tom Paine’s “Age of Reason,” which soon after appeared.
A mile and a half beyond Arlington the road forks to the, left, crossing the Battenkill, which is said to be one of the best trout streams in the East. The route then passes the line of Sunderland township and, two miles beyond, that of Manchester. The road runs along the loamy slopes of Equinox Mountain (3816 ft) overlooking the fertile intervales and farms. To the right is the home of Robert T. Lincoln, former president of the Pullman Company. Close by is the Ekwanok Country Club, whose famous links have done much to make Manchester a summer halting place, To the left is the Equinox House, an immense club of a hotel, on the flanks of the mountain, owned by the same family for a century and more. Mrs. Abraham Lincoln and Mrs. U. S. Grant summered here years ago. A good road leads past the hotel and the crowded trout pond to the summit of the mountain. On its southern slope is Skinner’s Hollow, a defile through which a mysterious stream disappears without visible outlet; nearby is a thirty-five-ton rocking stone. From the crest there is a view that extends from Greylock and the Catskills to Monadnock and the White Mountains, including also Lake George, Lake Champlain, and the Adirondacks. The name of Equinox is apparently derived from the Indian ” ekwanok” rather than from any climatic considerations.
36S MANCHESTER. Alt 694 ft. Pop (twp) 2044. Half shire town of Bennington Co.
The village is one of New England’s favorite summer resorts, on a plateau 1000 feet high. Its sidewalks of white marble add an air of individuality to its broad main street. As a half shire town it alternates with Bennington in sessions of the county court. There are many summer villas and residences.
Route 19 from Providence, Worcester, and Brattleboro to Fort Ticonderoga, and Route 43 from Claremont to Saratoga, pass through the village.