This NHP focuses on teh relationship between land stewardship and environmental conservation. About 20 miles of trails are free for exploring around Mt. Tom (elevation 700 to 1,300 ft.). In winter they are groomed for cross-country skiing I was told. A map for walking trails is available.
The mansion is the boyhood home of George Perkins Marsh, one of America's first conservationists, and later the home of Frederick Billings (please see previous tip). Its most recent owners, Laurance S. and Mary F. Rockefeller, gave it to the American people. Nothing has changed since they left the house - it looks like they have just left a few minutes ago to go shopping or so.
The Carriage Barn Visitor Center is open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Memorial Day weekend (late May) to October 31. Guided tours of the Mansion and grounds are offered during this time every hour. Our guide was a young woman from Oregon who had obvious trouble to make this interesting to the mostly elderly and disinterested Americans in the group. A shame.
The Billings Farm was established in 1871 by Frederick Billings. Billings set out to make his 270-acre farm a model dairy operation. In 1884 he hired George Aitken, an innovative and successful professional farm manager.
During the last two decades, while continuing to breed cattle and produce milk, the farm has developed an educational mission in conjunction with the Billings Farm & Museum, a museum devoted to rural life in east-central Vermont. Make sure to visit the working Dairy Farm and tThe restored 1890 Farm House where you can see the authentic farm office, family living spaces, and creamery. Watch out for shows like butter making (but make sure not to become involved in the actual process, LOL). Calculate about three hours for this farm & museum plus the adjacent Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller mansion.
Opening hours: May to October 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m
November-February Weekends, 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m
$11.00 Adults age 18-61
$10.00 Seniors age 62 and over
Please note: Combination Ticket available only Memorial Day Weekend-October 31 for both the Billings Farm & Museum and Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park (see next tip). Valid for two days. Prices are:
$16.00 Adults age 18-61
$12.00 Seniors age 62 and over
I wasn't sure whether to make this a tourist trap tip or not. In the end I decided to put it in the 'to do' category - it is something you should see when in the area. Just don't come here with high expectactions. The Ottauquechee river gorge is not *that* spectacular - it's merely 165 ft. deep.
Quite interesting is the iron bridge that spans the river at this place. The first bridge was built 1875, the current bridge was constructed 1911 as a railroad bridge. In 1933 the tracks were removed. Since then US 4 follows the same roadbed.
The views are best from half way down in the gorge IMO. Follow the southern trail a few minutes until a point from where you have nice views of the bridge (pic 2).
This hotel is one of Vermont's finest. The original building from 1892 required modernization in the 1960s and was replaced by a new one, but in traditional style. It is one of the landmarks of Woodstock, right next to the Green.
If you're not staying there for obvious reasons (rates!) it is still a pleasure to explore the Inn. It has a charming lobby with open fireplace (where my parents loved to sit, relax and do some people watching), a nice library room with internet access (which I used, probably unauthorized but I didn't see a sign 'for hotel guests only') and several nice dining options. Not to mention the expansive, beautiful grounds and the activities that are offered: tennis, golf, spa etc.
Very soon after it was chartered, Woodstock became seat of Windsor County (1766). Hence it needed a Court House. The building you see nowadays was built in 1855. The historic brick courthouse is still in use by the Windsor Country Superior Court.
This typical New England church was built 1806-08. The specialty about this church that on its steeple you find a church bell that was cast by Paul Revere, one of five in Woodstock. Also, the church has seen some Rockefeller weddings, like in 1934 when Laurence Rockefeller was married to Mary Billings French.
You find these covered bridges everywhere in New England, sure, but Woodstock has three of them. The so called 'Middle Covered Bridge' is located north off the town's Green (pic 2). It was only built in 1969 and thus is the newest all-peg construction covered bridge in Vermont. It was burned by vandals in 1974 but restored again by the community.
Four miles east, in Taftsville, there's another covered bridge spanning the Ottauquechee River (main pic). It was built in 1836 and is the second longest and third oldest of those bridges in Vermont. We drove there from Marsh-Billings Farm on a dirt road parallel to the river - bucolic landscape and almost no traffic.
While Billings Farm is what a LARGE farm was like many years ago. Sugarbush Farm is a small, family farm of today.
The road up is a wonderful trip - mostly dirt but well maintained (except during Vermont's 5th season, Mud Season). And when you get there, you are on top of the world, with a wonderful view of the mountains, the pastures etc. It's sort of like one of those places you'd love to stop but you don't want to intrude on the family living there. Well here they welcome you.
PLUS they have wonderful cheese, syrup that you can see made, a small trail up by maple trees and critters. When I was there last, there was a calf, some chickens, and a goat.
A great place for kids and grownups alike.
Woodstock's quaint downtown contains the anticipated craft and artisan shops, antique stores, and trendy sandwich and breakfast restaurants with a few B&B's adjacent. Often described as one of America's most delightful small towns, it is also a functioning town with hardware stores and druggists and banks and lots of lawyers since it is the shire town for a large county. I haven't any good pictures of the downtown, but the town is backed by the Ottauquechee River which is a 40 mile long stream beginning in Stratton and flowing into the Connecticut River. On the village square, the Lincoln covered bridge crosses the river still in use today. The square is lined by large Federal style houses with major columns and is a nice place to spend a lunch. A tourist kiosk is located on the green.
Billings is a dairy farm where you can see "jersey" cows give there milk and learn what it takes to make a dairy farm run in the year 2003.