With the last gasps of a warm Summer 2015 and a cool autumn breeze heralding things to come, a drive down Route 7 and 22a seemed like the perfect way to enjoy a Sunday afternoon. With a number of harvest markets in Underhill and on the Burlington Waterfront, traffic was heavier than normal, particularly in Shelburne.
First stop on this journey that’s been made more times than I can count, was the Shelburne Orchards where apples are ripe for the picking and views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks are stunning. The aroma of cider doughnuts in the air are a tour de force to contend with, if you’re watching your weight. Jump on a hay wagon for a ride down into the orchard. Make sure to grab some cider and a bag of apples that you pick yourself. After that, it’s time to get back on Rte. 7 and continue the trek.
Passing through Charlotte and into Ferrisburgh, you’ll notice hand made signs for a creepy Halloween event that’s in the making. Ollie the Camel, a familiar though unusual sight along Rte. 7 wasn’t out on this day as he usually is. A new mini-mart with a McDonalds signals some new changes in the small town, though it does seem to be having a substantial impact on the yellow store across the road.
Turning on to Rte. 22a into Vergennes, you’ll want to be careful and obey the speed limits. The town police are often quite vigilant, particularly coming in and leaving town, so slow down. With that being said, as I was leaving town with 4 cars with New York license plates behind me, they didn’t realize I was doing them a favor. As impatient as they were, perhaps they didn’t realize how fortunate they were to be following someone who had driven this road hundreds of times, knowing where all the “speed traps” are.
Passing by a number of Vermont farms, the corn fields were all barren and harvested. A sure sign that summer is over and cooler days lie ahead. Passing through Shoreham and stopping by the only mini-mart in town to grab a coffee, it was on to the town of Orwell and Mount Independence. As a note just outside of town, going south at 22a, there is a house that looks very familiar if you’ve ever visited Shelburne Museum.
The house above is virtually identical to a similar building at Shelburne Museum. Even more interesting is that there is a third house of this design located on Main St in Castleton. If anyone knows the story behind this, I’d love to know. Are there any other clones of this structure anywhere in Vermont?
Turning right down a road leading to Mount Independence (about 5 miles from Rte. 22a) you will see this old Vermont barn on the right. If the date on the roof is authentic, this is one very old barn. Just another mile or so down the road, you will see a couple abandoned houses on the left.
This home was probably the remnants of a family farm that long ago faded into obscurity. As a matter of fact, I made a point of photographing both homes, wondering whether my friend Chad at Obscure Vermont had ever investigated either of them. I always wonder what the “story” is behind these homes and why the families left them behind to decay into oblivion.
This home was literally falling down and seemed a particularly dangerous location. It was odd that there was a newer home right next to it. Why it hadn’t been torn down for safety reasons was a question that was both intriguing and surprising.
The visitor’s center at Mount Independence was open, much to our surprise. We had thought that it closed on Labor Day but the actual closing date is Columbus Day, so you still have time for a visit, if you’re interested.
In 1776, 10,000 brave American’s took up arms at Mount Independence to fight against the world’s most powerful military. If you visit the site and walk along the trails, you will see a number of informational signs about Mount Independence, the people and events that took place there and the remnants of what they left behind.
Although, there isn’t much left to see other than the remainders of stone foundations, the walking trails are both easy and enjoyable. It’s difficult to imagine what Mount Independence must have looked like back in the 1700’s when battles were fought and people did their best to live there.
One of the most impressive things to see when visiting Mt Independence are the views of Fort Ticonderoga (see photo at the top of this page). During the 1700’s there was actually a bridge made of logs, that connected Mount Independence to access to Fort Ticonderoga but that too, is now lost to time.
The trip to Mount Independence has become somewhat of an annual tradition. It simply is a great place to visit and enjoy any time of year but late summer and fall are my favorite times to visit this special place. With that said, I will probably be going back for one more visit when fall foliage is at it’s peak and before a long, cold Vermont winter sets in.
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