It was Saturday, 2 October when I hit the road to Vermont. For weeks I had carefully watched this year’s fall foliage prediction and had then loosely planned my trip. By that I mean I had booked two hotels for my stay and got an overview of Vermont in general. I even only decided on the best route to drive up once I sat in my car and had consulted Google Maps. It turned out that I would first stop in Bennington, a small town in the southwest of the state.
Now, Vermont is not that far of a drive from New York City and I had a pleasant trip up. As soon as I left the greater New York City area, the highway I was on (mostly the Taconic State Parkway) became empty and everybody drove in a much more relaxed way. It took me about 3 hours to reach Bennington where my first destination was the ultimate cultural experience: Aldi. Yes, they have a branch of the cheap German supermarket there and I stocked up on groceries for my trip.
After that and with a full trunk I could focus on why I had actually come to Vermont: to explore this small state in New England and enjoy its fall foliage. So I drove from Aldi to the Bennington Battle Monument, an obelisk you can already see from further away. On the way up the hill I passed by the famous Bennington Museum, but didn’t feel like visiting it.
Bennington First Church Cemetery
Right next to the Bennington Battle Monument, on the hill, there is a little parking area. It might not fit many cars, but I at least got lucky. There are also public restrooms up there – something that I learned is essential for survival when you are pregnant. You can ask me now, I know every public bathroom in Vermont I went to. Anyways, I first took a little walk down a beautiful street that is lined with historic houses. It lead me to the First Congregational Church and the Center-Old First Church Cemetery. Particularly the old gravestones are worth a visit. There are several plates explaining historic graves or the art of carving the marble gravestones.
I was delighted to find out that Robert Frost’s grave is actually on the Bennington First Church Cemetery. The poet is famous – and I encountered him already when I studied English literature in university. While some of his poems are displayed, I mostly loved his funerary inscription: “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.”
Bennington Battle Monument
From the cemetery I walked back to the Bennington Battle Monument, which is open to visitors. Unfortunately, their elevator was broken so nobody could go to the top of the almost 93.4 m high obelisk. The view is supposed to be amazing as you can also see the states of New York and Massachusetts from the top. Alas, maybe next time. At least the exhibition on the ground floor was open to the public. It explains the Battle of Bennington, a turning point of the American Revolution, in great detail as well as the erection of the monument itself.
There are different memorials, posters, pictures and dioramas. They illustrate the Battle of Bennington of August 1777 really well. It seems that the British army felt sure to defeat the few people in Bennington that guarded an arsenal depot. Only they didn’t know that the Vermont men had asked New Hampshire for help and received it in form of armed forces from both New Hampshire and Massachusetts. The New Englanders cut the British off about 8 km northwest of Bennington and that turned into the Battle of Bennington. The mostly untrained New Englanders defeated some of Europe’s best trained troups, and thereby also saved important supplies that were stored in the arsenal depot.
Years later a group wanted to commemorate the Battle of Bennington with a monument, namely on the hill where once the arsenal depot stood. After many years of discussions and fundraising, they started to build the Bennington Battle Monument in 1887. It was finally completed in 1891.
There is also a gift shop next to the monument, but, having just arrived in Vermont, I wasn’t as interested in their souvenirs. Instead I got out a snack from my car trunk and enjoyed it together with the lovely view that you get from the hill even without the monument elevator.
I recommend taking a walk through the old part of Bennington because it is cute and also interesting. You don’t need to spend many hours there. But I learned quite a bit about U.S. American history and I’m sure that the Bennington Museum would also be worth a visit. The fall foliage wasn’t strong yet when I was there. As Bennington is pretty far south that was to be expected. I will show you more autumnal photos when I blog about the next stops on my trip.
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