Saturday, August 15, 2015

Randolph Center, Vermont

 For our second week in Vermont we moved on to Randolph Center which is further north and east of our last stay.  Since the drive wasn't that far we took our time getting out of Manchester, VT.

For the first few miles we followed a truck that was painting the center line on the highway.  The flashing arrow kept pointing to the right which meant we could pass on that side.  Not being the easiest thing to do with a big rig hauling a car we decided to just sit back and quietly follow behind until we got to the interstate. 

Vermont is such a beautiful state.

After the interstate we drove through some wonderful small towns on the way to our destination. 

The weather was in the 80's and people were out and about.

Our campsite was in a town called Randolph Center.

The town of Randolph is a few miles from our campsite so we took a drive in to look around.

As we headed into town we saw a mural painted about the area. 

This huge house is a single residency.

Hydrangeas love the weather up north. I wish mine looked this good.......but then what would the deer eat.
During our stay in Randolph Center we met up with Rick and Susan Lee who live in Granville, Vermont.  We first met them two years ago at the Finger Lakes of New York while they were at the 'Grapehound Festival' which is a vendor endorsed charity that makes money for Greyhound dogs.  Susan creates wonderful dog collars and was selling them at the festival.  We contacted them in Vermont and they were gracious enough to drive over from Granville (which is either over the mountain or around the mountain) to have dinner with us. We dined at an eclectic restaurant called the Black Krim Tavern and had a wonderful time.  Rick and Susan have a sweet greyhound named Katie who is always fashionably dressed in the latest collar. We have several for our pups, too.  If any of you dog lovers are interested, Susan's website is at

Looking for a place to exercise the dogs, we went to a local park and hiked the trails up to a fire tower.

It was a little overcast but still beautiful green mountains.

If you look real close on the upper left side, it's the Captain waving down at us.
This rock opening is where mama bears kept their cubs safe.

Driving back from the state park we came across this floating bridge.  Since 1820, there have been eight versions of the bridge spanning Sunset Lake in Brookfield Village.  The different versions included massive timbers, 50-gallon barrels, and styrofoam.  This latest version reflects the overall design of the original version and is the only floating bridge in the state of Vermont.  

Brookfield Village was a very quaint little town.

This creative design was a play area in the yard of a Vermonter.

I wonder if these folks are from the South?

Right down the road from our RV park was the Vermont Veteran's Memorial Cemetery.  I was surprised it was placed in such a remote part of Vermont.

Most of our time in Randolph we spent hiking in the nearby mountains and enjoying the countryside. We went to a town called Quechee to look at the Quechee Gorge which is Vermont's Grand Canyon.

The area is very rocky, as is most of Vermont, and people were climbing over the rocks heading to the cool waters.

In the center of the rocks was a channel with deep water to swim in.

In the distance is the Quechee Gorge Bridge today.  The original bridge was erected in 1875.  The project was deliberated for over seven years but took less than one month to put the structure in place.  Work began simultaneously on two  separate fronts. While one front was making iron and wooden components the other was anchoring a 135 foot false bridge, or trestle to the Gorge floor. A closed-in lattice span consisting of prefabricated parts was assembled so that trains could run across the top of it. The numbered pieces were transported to the rim of the Gorge, raised and bolted, and the track was completed in three weeks. The final product was a 280 foot viaduct touted as the tallest bridge in New England.

Around the time the bridge was built, the area was called Dewey's Mill and was a village consisting of 63 buildings on 1,400 acres surrounding the Dewey and Company woolen mill.  Satinets, a type of cotton weave, and shoddy, a form of reworked wool were made in the mid 1800's.   The mill produced 2, 500 yards of fabric per day operating 24 hours a day and employing 240 workers.  Some of the material manufactured here was used to make uniforms for the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, and blankets for both the U.S. Army and Navy.  The company remained in the same family for over 120 years.  Today it is the town of Quechee.

While in Quechee Village we had lunch at Simon Pearce which is an upscale restaurant on the river near a covered bridge.

My lunch was called a Meatball Slider made with pork and ground beef.  It was very good.

The Captain had  Steak Frites which also was delicious.

The river outside the restaurant and

the covered bridge.

The restaurant was to the right of the river with a glassed in seating area giving you a spectacular view.

Some days in Vermont were cloudy while others were clear but everyday the mountains were magnificent.

Over one hundred years ago, Millstone Hill was the site of 75 independent quarry operations fueling the town of Barre's 19th century growth and prosperity.  Virtually every square foot of Millstone Hill was cleared and quarried.  During the 20th century, quarry operations consolidated and smaller independent quarry operations closed down.  Gradually the quarries filled with water and the forest returned.  In 2005, 1500 acres of the historic quarry lands were opened to the public and miles of recreation trails were created for hiking, biking, skiing or snowshoes.

A great place to hike the pups and Desi was loving the water. 

Granite walls were built for many purposes and there are still many standing in the woods.

These walls have been here for decades and are very tall as you can see by the trees that have grown up along them.  I'm wondering  when the handprints were put on the wall.

One of the many quarries that have filled with water.

This is an old steam drill used in the 1870's to drill deep and lift holes revolutionizing quarrying by replacing slow and laborsome manual drilling.  Steam was also used to power derricks, pump water from the quarries, and to heat quarry buildings.  The machinery was fired using local wood.  As the wood supply ran out coal was transported to the quarry by rail.

This area at one time was used for the production of paving blocks or cobble stones.  The waste created by the main business was brought here and turned into pavers.   Paving blocks were one of the earliest uses of waste granite and were considered the best paving material.  The typical cost of paving blocks in the 1920's was $5.00 per square yard laid. A single contract to pave the streets of Troy, NY, required 10 million paving blocks.  The paving block cutters were paid by the piece (five cents per block).  Before the advent of pneumatic drills, boys were often hired during the summer to drill the hole that split the block and were paid one-tenth of a cent per hole.

What a great place to hike.  The quarries are pristine and beautiful.    

We decided to return to the area the next day to tour a company called Rock of Ages which is the quarry company in the town of Graniteville.

Over the years the consolidation of quarry mines led to the creation of this company and we were able to take a tour of a modern quarry mine and the way the work is completed today.

Quite an operation with high tech equipment.  The red building at the top right is where the crane operator sits and he is given direction from another employee closer to the edge as to how to proceed.

All the wires above control the crane and where the rock is cut.

The green water below is from the sediments in the quarry that leach out as the rock is cut.

This particular quarry has enough granite left to be mined for at least 300 years.  There is a Mohs scale of hardness that grades the strength of different types of rock.  With talc being a one and diamond being a ten, granite is seven on the scale while marble is only a three.
We were also allowed to take a self-guided tour through the plant where they mainly make markers for graves. 

The work is still completed by hand and the employees are considered artists.

The process of sandblasting is used to sand-carve finely detailed ornamentation but many details must still be created by hand today.  A plaster cast is made to scale to aid the sculptor in his craft.  The statue is then "roughed out" of the block of granite with pneumatic tools.  Finer hand tools and smaller pneumatic tools are then used to create the delicate details.

In the 1950's Rock of Ages experimented with making bowling lanes out of granite rather than wood. A few such alleys were created but the concept never caught on.  This prototype was used for years by employees and visitors.  The gutters were made of reinforced concrete and have weathered badly over the years while the granite alley is virtually untouched.

While in the area someone suggested we check out the Hope Cemetery right outside of town.  The rumor is that the only headstones allowed in the cemetery are from the Rock of Ages plant.  With that said, they have some real artists working for them.  We saw some of the most unusual tombstones ever.

This mausoleum had a glass door with a stained glass window in the back wall.

Many of the families in the area are Italian-American and the tombstones show the patriarch of the family.

This was one of my favorites.  The marker makes it look like they are laying together in bed.

We took a drive over to Montpelier, the capital, and found it to be a delightful old town.  What was most surprising is that the population of the city is only 7,855 from the 2010 census and the total county is a little over 59 thousand.  I had thought since it was the capital of the state it would be much larger.

Heading across the river into Montpelier.

The city from a street above. 

There are mountains above Montpelier so we took the pups for a walk to wear them out.  This is the Hubbard Park Tower we were able to climb to see views from above.

Wow!  So much gray hair.

The trunk of this dead tree was made into a chair so you could rest while on the trail.

We strolled downtown Montpelier to check out all the sites.  One thing we have noticed in the parts of Vermont we visited is that many of the restaurants are 'farm to table dining'.   The menu is changing daily because they use the produce from either the restaurant's farm or from other local farms.  The food is always fresh and good.

Most of the buildings in the city are very old and ornate.

A stately church.

The fire station in the heart of the city.

The main street in downtown Montpelier.

One of the state office buildings.

The Capitol Building with mountains in the background where we hiked.

The dome is topped by a statue named Agriculture, a representation of Ceres, an ancient Roman goddess of agriculture.

This large building was the Vermont Museum.

Scattered within the main street were old homes and one block back, across the river, were many  other residences.

As we left the capital we stopped in at a local winery we had heard about.  It was in the owner's home and she gave us a brief tour during the wine tasting.

She is a teacher and her husband was an engineer who changed his career to become a stay-at-home dad and make wine. They have been at it for several years and are doing well.  These vats are a recent upgrade after selling all the wine they had produced the year before.

Their production line is small but they are in the process of buying additional land outside of town and opening a much larger operation.  The owner's wife told us then she could get back her basement in her house :)

We really enjoyed this area of Vermont but now we are moving further north to Morrisville to spend our last week in the state and see some new sites.  Peace!

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