Civil War Heritage Trail runs through county
MIDDLEBURY — Several Addison County towns have been included on the new Vermont in the Civil War Heritage Trail. The trail was recently launched by the Milton Historical Society and General Stannard House Committee, as well as fellow sites, partners and stakeholders throughout the state.
The Vermont in the Civil War Heritage Trail was born out of a desire to link key American Civil War sites in the Green Mountain State — museums, historic sites, exhibits and more — and educate by making this important history more unified and accessible. Special thanks are due to Howard Coffin, whose 2013 book “Something Abides: Discovering the Civil War in Today’s Vermont” is a reference and inspiration for this trail.
The trail follows U.S. Route 7, south to north. Each site is a link to the crucial contributions Vermont made to the preservation of these United States in the American “War Between the States.” There are also many little-known connections critical to that war, and the mission of the trail is to better illustrate and explain those connections.
From Abolitionist John Brown to Stephen Douglas to William Lloyd Garrison to Frederick Douglass to the northernmost land battle of the Civil War, to the General who made the decision to flank Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg, Vermont has a significant story to tell.
Within Addison County, sites include Middlebury’s Congregational Church, where William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass spoke. Vergennes has deep connections to abolitionist John Brown, as does Panton. John Brown’s funeral procession traveled down Main Street and his body was returned to his North Elba, N.Y. farm for burial via a ferry that launched from Arnold’s Bay. Ferrisburgh is home to Rokeby Museum, a documented stop on the Underground Railroad. Frederick Douglass spoke at the Ferrisburgh town hall in July 1843.
The contributions and influences Vermont had on the Civil War are not widely known or appreciated, even within the state. There are other important sites and connections to the Civil War in Vermont, but the majority of our sites are found along the ‘western coast’ of Vermont, along the Route 7 corridor. Future expansion of the trail may include eastern sites such as the rifle, machinery and clothing factories of the Connecticut River Valley, and more.
“Vermont is known for our rich history, as well as a tradition of neighbors and communities working together,” said Alex Lehning, Director of the Saint Albans Museum and member of the Trail Committee. “Our shared regional heritage is part of larger story of America itself. The creation of the Vermont in the Civil War Heritage Trail — by volunteers from across the state — provides a comprehensive link to that important piece of our past, and to the people, places and ideas that defined Vermont’s critical role in the Civil War. This Trail will benefit residents, visitors, and students alike who have an interest in exploring and discovering that story.”
Future improvements for the trail include plans for individual and joint collaborative site events, a geo-locating application, identity signage at sites with QR code-accessed content, virtual reality tours, and local/statewide Public Broadcasting videos and presentations. The current brochures are only the beginning. “History is where we’ve been and where we are going,” said Terry Richards, Trail Committee Chair. “Please, do not miss out on your discovery.”
For more information on the Vermont in the Civil War Heritage Trail, visit vtcivilwarheritage.net or email [email protected]. Find the current list of site locations and descriptions, and the trail brochure, at vtcivilwarheritage.net/locations.html
A brochure that includes a map and listing of sites can be picked up at the Visitor Center operated by the Addison County Chamber of Commerce, 93 Court Street, Middlebury. Find their Facebook presence at facebook.com/civilwartrail.
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