Most Vermonters will tell you their part of the state is special and they’re right. Vermont has a fabulous blend of old values like frugality, hard work, sense of community, respect for elders, volunteerism, protection of the environment, non-pretension and a host of others.These have served us well but in the rapidly changing world, Vermont places high value on educating our youth and staying technologically adept. We’re proud of locally produced goods and are taking seriously the shift toward keeping the local economy strong by purchasing our own farm and forest products. We lead the US in per capita microbreweries and in renewable energy jobs. Specialty foods and solar energy are our fastest growing business sectors. Many of our restaurants are superb and several emphasize farm-to-table fare. The locavore movement is alive in Vermont. Friendliness and waiving to perfect strangers are other hallmarks.
So how is Southeastern Vermont a bit different?
Access – Gateway to Vermont. Access via I-91 makes visits quick and easy. We’re also one corner of three states and there are advantages to quick access to Keene NH or Greenfield MA. Day trips to New York City, Hartford or Boston are not unusual.
Topography – the rolling hills and valleys in this area do a few things that progressive zoning tries to do. It creates Green Belts, areas of practically undevelopable preserves. There just aren’t roads crisscrossing the terrain bringing sprawl.
Natural Resources – our rivers are incredible from the navigable Connecticut and its confluence with the West river and the Retreat Meadows to the Rock, Green, Deerfield, Saxtons, Winhall and others. Aside from the Retreat Meadow, Lake Whitingham is a standout for boating. There are 44 lakes in the 2 counties in Southeastern Vermont. For mountains in Windham County, the resorts at Mount Snow and Stratton are obvious but the vista from Haystack is arguably one of the best in New England. In Windsor County, Ascutney stands out, as do numerous peaks like Stratton, Saltash and Bear Mtn. Rich valley soils and a milder climate combine to make promote some of the best farms in the state, especially along the Connecticut.
Parks and Trails – Aside from being in part of the Green Mountain National Forest, state and local parks include Jamaica, Ball Mtn., Townshend, Fort Dummer, North Springfield Lake, Mt. Ascutney, Molly Stark, Overlook, Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller, West, Black Mt., Hinesburg Town Forest and others. Vermont’s Long Trail, the model for the later Appalachian Trail goes from the Massachusetts line to Canada. There are as many trails as there are parks many of the fun local resources.
History – Vermont celebrates its unique state and local history through numerous societies. In our area there are great resources at the Historical Society of Windham County, Putney, Brattleboro Historical Society and Windsor Historical Society and numerous active groups in Chester, Weston, and many others. Re-enactments are common throughout the summer.
Schools and Colleges – In Windham County high schools include Austine School for the Deaf, Bellows Falls Union High School, Brattleboro Union High School, Compass School, Greenwood School, Leland & Gray Union High School, Oak Meadow School, Putney School, Stratton Mountain School, Twin Valley High School and Vermont Academy. Colleges include Landmark, Marlboro and the School for International Training at World Learning. New campuses coming to downtown Brattleboro are Vermont Technical College and Community College of Vermont. There are many others nearby, again because of our proximity to New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
Cultural Venues – The area is rich in music and the arts. The historic and newly renovated Latchis Theatre with its art deco décor, the Brattleboro Museum and Arts Center, New England Youth Theatre, Vermont Jazz Center, Roots on the River and the restored Opera House in Bellows Falls, Gallery Walk in Brattleboro, the Strolling of the Heifers, now located in the River Garden – the list of concerts, performances, shows and gallery exhibits is truly mind boggling for such a rural area. There are just too many incredible cultural events to mention here.
Recreation and Sports – Besides hosting Stratton, Mount Snow, Okemo and other private year-round recreational resorts, southeastern Vermont has excellent golf courses everywhere. There are also boat tours on Lake Whitingham and the Connecticut River, white water rafting events, ice fishing derbies, the Grafton Ponds Outdoor Center, the Tough Mudder competition, marathons, the international Harris Hill Ski Jump, excellent fishing and hunting and so many opportunities to actively enjoy the incredibly beautiful scenic areas.