Fall Color in Vermont

UPDATE:

Sorry this took so long to put together.  I know that many of you were anxious to see some of the photos we were bragging about from our East Coast Trip.  1, we didn’t have time nor often adequate internet access to put this together during our trip.  2.  It turns out that I would have been unable to put this on our blog earlier (even if it had been done) because there was a software glitch in the blog program which didn’t allow the insert of a photograph.   And as you will see, there is no way that I would update the blog without the photographs!  So, here is Vermont!

We started on our fall vacation on the first day of October.  We had been told by one of our summer guests that the peak time for the trees in Vermont was Columbus Day so we traveled fast along I-80 to Pennsylvania stopping for a quick visit with my cousin Betsy Sterns just outside Cleveland.
We got off the freeway as we arrived in Pennsylvania and took the two lane 6N highway (our normal preference) across the state enjoying the scenery, the new crop apples and the really good sweet corn roasting ears. Through southwestern New York, we skirted the eastern side of the Adirondack Mountains up to the Canadian border.  As we were traveling through Pennsylvania and lower New York the leaves were beginning to turn, but just hadn’t reached the peak that we would see in northern Vermont.

farm north of Colchester
Farm north of Colchester

We crossed into Vermont at the upper end of Lake Champlain and drove down the length of Grand Isle to Colchester just north of Burlington where we parked the 5th wheel for a few days.  We planned to leave the 5th wheel and then travel around the area with the truck which turned out to be an excellent idea.  The weather around Burlington was still warm for most of the trees.  It was influenced by Lake Champlain and of the unusual late start to fall.

Autum trees of Vermont hillside
Autum trees of Vermont hillside

However, the trees higher up in the mountains were at their peak of beauty.

Our first day in Vermont started with a chance meeting with a local farmer in a filling station.  He told us to be sure to drive through Smuggler’s notch as it was at it’s peak in color.  As we drove northeast toward the mountains, we could begin to see the wide range of colors on the mountain sides.

Grist Mill on Browns River, Jericho, VT
Grist Mill on Browns River, Jericho

We were on a paved, narrow road winding through the trees and fields of northern Vermont and entered the small town of Jericho.  A stream cascaded down from the mountains through the town and an old Grist Mill stood along the side of the stream.

Poland Covered Bridge, Cambridge Junction, VT
Poland Covered Bridge, Cambridge Junction, VT

As we were passing through the small village of Cambridge, we noticed a small covered bridge just off the side of the road.  The combination of the Grist Mill and the covered bridge really peaked our interest.

Smugglers’ Notch is a ski area on one side of the mountain and then a narrow, winding pass between the mountains and on the other side the famous Stowe ski area.  As we climbed up toward the pass, the trees turned to orange and reds and as we gained altitude they turned bright yellow.

Brilliant yellow lane up Smuggler's Notch
Brilliant yellow lane up Smuggler's Notch

It was a beautiful drive and made us realize that the real beauty of Vermont was on the back roads, many of which were winding, narrow one-lane gravel roads climbing through the mountains and hills. And that was where the covered bridges were located.

We obtained a book titled ‘Covered Bridges of Vermont’, written by Ed Barna which gave directions to locate them, photos and facts about the bridges.  There were 106 classified as original and partially functional plus others that were reproductions of destroyed original bridges. Originally there were over five hundred documented covered bridges of which most were destroyed by time, damaged beyond repair by floods or destroyed by the hands of man.
We outlined roads from our campground in Colchester which allowed us to find most of the bridges in the northwestern Vermont mountains. Each of the loop roads could be driven in less than a day.   Then we moved the camper south of the state Capitol in Montpelier outside a small town called Williamstown. There we outlined loop roads which covered most of the northeastern and middle portions of the state.
We spent the next ten days touring the state. Of the 106 existing bridges in Vermont listed in the book, we found 75 and took photos of them. In addition to the fascinating covered bridges, we encountered old mills, small villages, steepled churches, mountain streams and falls, beautiful farms and old barns.  Jan and I took almost a thousand photos in Vermont.  Obviously I can’t and won’t show all of them to you; however, I will show you what we thought were the most interesting and beautiful bridges, mills, farms, churches and scenery in the state.


A. M. Foster Covered Bridge, Cabot-Plain
A. M. Foster Covered Bridge, Cabot-Plain

Up high on one of the ridges was probably the most photogenic covered bridge in Vermont.  It is the A. M. Foster bridge located in the Cabot Plain region and is really a reproduction of an original bridge in the region that was destroyed by flood.  There was a light dusting of snow on the roof and lots of it in the grass.  I was in tennis shoes and got wet, cold feet, but the photo was worth it!
I chose bridges to show you because they were interesting or had some or lots of fall color.  Trying to decide which ones to show in limited space was difficult.

Upper Morgan Covered Bridge, 1887, on Lamoille river
Upper Morgan Covered Bridge, 1887, on Lamoille river
Schribner Covered Bridge, date unknown, Cihon river near Johnson
Schribner Covered Bridge, date unknown, Cihon river near Johnson
Codding Covered Bridge, 1877, Kelly river on Codding Hollow road
Codding Covered Bridge, 1877, Kelly river on Codding Hollow road
Seguin Covered Bridge, 1850, Lewis river near Charlotte
Seguin Covered Bridge, 1850, Lewis river near Charlotte

Upper Morgan,  Codding and Scribner Covered Bridges were chosen because of the fall foliage colors, the streams below the bridges and they were similar to the many other bridges we saw.  Codding was especially interesting because it was called the ‘Kissing Bridge’.  Back in the 1800’s courting was a little difficult due to the presence of a chaperon when the boy and girl were together.  However, Codding bridge was fairly long and it took awhile for the horses to pull the carriage through to the other end.   It was very dark inside the bridge which gave ample time for the young couple to kiss.  Scribner was special not only for the cascading stream, but also for the farm on the other side which raised Elk.  There were some beautiful antlers on some of the bulls in the pen.  We were delighted with Sequin Bridge.  It was set way off the main road down a narrow gravel road lined with glorious fall trees.  The Bridge turned out to be very old and very small, but it was still used regularly.  I took a lot of photos of it.


Smith Covered Bridge, 1870, Barnard Brook near South Pomfret
Smith Covered Bridge, 1870, Barnard Brook near South Pomfret

Smith Bridge was different in that the sides were open with a lattice structural design which was a common form of structure, but this was the first bridge where the sides were left open.  Actually the hillsides behind the bridge were beautiful, but didn’t show in the photo.  It was the entrance to a farm property and was a private bridge.  We didn’t go across it, but took photos from the front.


Upper Falls Covered Bridge, 1840, Black river near Downers Four Corners
Upper Falls Covered Bridge, 1840, Black river near Downers Four Corners

Upper Falls Bridge was unique because it had just been renovated with a new metal roof and siding.  Put into an area where the hardwoods were at their peak of color and the bridge became spectacular!  Located west of the Connecticut River, it was owned and restored in 1975 by the local town. Nearby, there were stone remains of old mills that were destroyed by floods of the past.


Willard Twin Bridges, 1870, above the Ottauquechee river dam near North Hartland
Willard Twin Bridges, 1870, above the Ottauquechee river dam near North Hartland

Willard Bridges were built over two separate dams on a lake feeding power to a woolen mill on the side of the first bridge.  There was an island in the middle of the dam, thus requiring two separate bridges.  The falls over the dam were both spectacular, but we were unable to get close to them because it was private property WELL POSTED! I have included them here because it was very unusual that two bridges were so close together.
That did bring up an interesting antidote from the book.  It seems that in a small village in Vermont the locals were trying to decide whether to build another covered bridge across the stream that bisected the town so other farmers from that area could come to the town.  One of the councilmen made the following statement:  “We already have four covered bridges on the stream in town.  Why don’t we just cover the whole damned stream?”  The bridge never got built.


FALLS AND CASCADES
Streams and covered bridges go together obviously the latter to get over the former.  But in addition, water was a main source of power for all the towns and villages in the early Vermont.  Upper Vermont being mostly mountainous provided many beautiful falls and cascades through the rocky mountainsides.  Put streams and covered bridges together and the photo opportunities increase exponentially.

Sayers Covered Bridge, date unknown, over Ompompanoosuc river near Thetford Center
Sayers Covered Bridge, date unknown, over Ompompanoosuc river near Thetford Center

A magnificent example of the beautiful combination of cascading water and covered bridge.  Not only were the cascades beautiful, but the right sides of this area was covered with the stone walls of a grist mill and a sawmill.  However, they were so overgrown with vegetation that they were barely visible.


Warren Covered Bridge, 1879, over Mad river in Warren Village
Warren Covered Bridge, 1879, over Mad river in Warren Village

A dam was constructed below the bridge to produce electricity is located on the left side of the photo although not visible.  The water from the dam fed a huge tube which dropped through a turbine creating electricity for the town.  Originally the white building on the left was a woolen mill with a water wheel.  It had been renovated into a home.


mill-covered-bridge-photos

Mill Bridge built in 1883 just outside of Tunbridge was another example of a bridge, waterfall over a dam that generated power.  Originally there was a Grist Mill next to Mill Covered Bridge using the water from the dam, the Saw Mill  had its own wheel and a blacksmith shop as part of a mill complex using the river power.


Old Grist Mill converted to Power Generator plant.
Old Grist Mill converted to Power Generator plant on Gihon river

An example of a mill that was changed into a power generating station was found on the Gihon river.  We took this photo from the center of the covered bridge that crossed the stream.  This mill channeled the water off the stream upstream, ran it through turbin-wheels under the building and out the rear into the stream again.


Renovated Grist Mill on Brewster river, Jefferson
Renovated Grist Mill on Brewster river, Jefferson

This Grist Mill was located on a very small stream using a water wheel.  However, the mill had be sold and then renovated into a home.  The water wheel was moved from the stream side of the home to the street side where is was visible for the tourists.  There was also a covered bridge upstream from it.


Old Sawmill at Kent Corners
Old Sawmill at Kent Corners

Then there was the old 1803 sawmill that had be abandoned over a hundred years ago.  It was fed by the water through a pipe from the small lake where the water is falling over the dam.  It was under restoration by the locals in Kent’s Corner, but had a long way to go.   A very small, private covered bridge drew us to the area and we were able to photograph it hidden in the trees at the back of the owners yard (we tried to get permission, but nobody was home).


Old Mills on Otter river downtown Vergennes
Old Mills on Otter river downtown Vergennes

The ultimate use of water for power was at the city of Vergennes where a very large dam held back a lake  in the center of the city.  We drove over the dam noticing the water cascading down the under the city street and then drove around the back to see the falls.  There were two of them and they had originally provided power for several mills, but were now used to generate electricity for the city.  It was interesting because the dams were a natural barricade of rock across the Otter river damming it.  The mills were built on top of the rock base forcing the water to go through two separate cascades.  The city street over the dam was actually a bridge.


Moss Glen Falls between Granville & Warren
Moss Glen Falls between Granville & Warren

We were driving up a winding mountain road looking for another covered bridge when we saw this beautiful falls cascading down the side of the mountain.  It wasn’t on our map, but later found it on the topographic map and it was called Moss Glen Falls.  There were many falls and cascades on the streams in Vermont and we stopped to enjoy them as we covered the back roads in the mountains.


CHURCHES, FARMS, OLD BARNS, OLD HOMES & BEAUTIFUL TREES

churches

It seems to be a tradition to photograph the white churches of New England and far be it from me to be any different.  It seems that the people of New England made the bright white spires on the their churches to stand well above the surrounding forests to guide the parishioners to their doors.  The results were often quite spectacular.


Boyden Winery Farm, Cambridge
Boyden Winery Farm, Cambridge

On that first loop tour through the Smuggler’s Notch we came over a hill to see the Boyden Winery Farm down below us.  The tasting room was closed for the year so we didn’t stop to taste the local wine.

farms

house-18121

The original bridge across the Ottauquechee river was old iron Union Street bridge when the yellow home was built in 1812.  It was condemned in 1965 and Middle Covered Bridge was constructed by the last of the covered-bridge builders, Milton Graton.


1883 Home at Mill Bridge, Tunbridge
1883 Home at Mill Bridge, Tunbrid

Another beautiful old home was found behind the Mill Covered Bridge in Tunbridge.  The sign on the side of the home indicated it was built in 1883.  These are but a few of the beautiful homes and farms that we photographed on our tours through the back country of Vermont.


And finally, I can’t finish this overview of Vermont without showing a few of the photos of the fabulous autumn trees in the Green Mountain State.

autumn-trees-vt1

One thought on “Fall Color in Vermont”

  1. Re that photo of an “1883 Home at Mill Bridge, Tunbridge”

    I lived just on the other side of the Mill Bridge in 1979-81*; I’m pretty darned sure that house was not there. (I used to cut firewood on that lot.)

    I believe that 1883 date attributed to that house probably refers to year the original bridge was built.

    = = =
    *You can see one corner of the original “black smith shop” where I lived, poking out from behind a photo you have of the bridge in the middle of that page, just above the text “Mill Bridge built in 1883 just outside of Tunbridge was another example of a bridge, ….”

    BTW: The black smith shop and (across the road) the saw and grist mill were reportedly built in the 1840s and 50s, IIRC

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