Civil War Heritage Trail is taking shape
ADDISON COUNTY — After years of planning, the Vermont in the Civil War Heritage Trail is taking shape along the Route 7 corridor from Bennington to the Canadian border. The 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.
Howard Coffin’s 2013 book “Something Abides: Discovering the Civil War in Today’s Vermont” has served as a reference and inspiration for the trail.
Following U.S. Route 7 from south to north, each site of the trail is a link to the crucial contributions Vermont made to the preservation of the United States in the American Civil War. There are also many little-known connections critical to that War, and it is the trail’s intent 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.
Addison County is home to a number of stops on the trail, including:
• In Brandon: Brandon Museum & Welcome Center, 4 Grove Street, Brandon, 802-247-6401, brandon.org/the-brandonmuseum. This site is the birthplace of Stephen Douglas, the Great Debater and Lincoln’s opponent in 1860 election.
• In Middlebury: The Congregational Church of Middlebury, 2 Main Street, Middlebury, 802-388-7634, middleburyucc.org, and Middlebury College, 14 Old Chapel Road, Middlebury, 802-443-5000, middlebury.edu. The Congregational Church of Middlebury was the site of the Great Convention abolitionist event of July 1863, where both Wm. Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass made public addresses. Middlebury College 1860 commencement speaker Edward Everett, Massachusetts Governor and Harvard President, gave the main address at Gettysburg cemetery just before Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The College graduated Alexander Twilight, the first black person to earn a degree in America.
• In Vergennes: Vergennes Railroad Depot, VT Route 22A and US Route 7, and downtown Vergennes village green and park, Main Street, vergennes.org. Vergennes has deep connections to abolitionist John Brown. Vergennes Railroad Depot — the oldest depot in VT — received Brown’s casket en route to North Elba, N.Y. Main Street downtown contains some of the original trading area used by John Brown’s family.
• In Panton: Adams Ferry, Arnold’s Bay Road. The Ferry crossing to New York at Arnold’s Bay was used to convey John Brown’s body across Lake Champlain to his North Elba, N.Y. farm for burial. A State marker is at the site.
• In Ferrisburgh: Rokeby Museum, 4334 U.S. Route 7, 802-877-3406, rokeby.org Rokeby, a documented stop on the Underground Railroad, is now the Rokeby Museum, dedicated to Underground Railroad history and education. Downtown Ferrisburgh Park also has a historic marker for Frederick Douglass’ speech at the Town Hall in July 1843.
A full brochure of stops on the trail can be found at vtcivilwarheritage.net. The trail also has a Facebook page, facebook.com/vtcivilwartrail. Future expansion of the Trail may include eastern Vermont sites such as the rifle, machinery and clothing factories of the Connecticut River Valley.
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