The weather was perfect in the Green Mountains for a week-long visit with family. Rutland, Vermont is home base for both my parents, so we’ve got lots of family all around town. My folks arrived by plane, and we drove up in the motorhome for our semi-annual visit.
At the turn of the last century, Rutland’s prosperity came from two sources – the railroad and marble. The Rutland Railroad was a major player in the northeast, and I remember the busy rail yard in the center of town. Howe Scale was a giant foundry that produced rail scales, and you can still find their product on display at old-timey places. The rail yard is now a shopping center, and a part of the Howe complex has been turned into a biscuit factory.
Way back when, the little town of Proctor was the center of marble manufacturing. They cut white and green marble from local quarries, and most of Proctor’s buildings feature marble facades. Even the sidewalks are marble. The green marble called Verdi Antique is still my favorite. Skilled stone cutters from Italy were drawn to this area in the 1900’s, so Vermont has a surprisingly large Italian population.
Rutland is still a bustling town, with a vibrant and busy downtown shopping district. I’m so happy to see the area thriving when many other little towns in the Midwest and South are in decline.
The outskirts of town are picture-perfect, with tidy Vermont farms and the big Green Mountains as a backdrop. My favorite places are by the cool mountain streams. Cold River is one of those favorites, where Dad spent many days trout fishing.
Dad’s best buddy (since kindergarten!), Uncle Slam, took us to all their old childhood haunts, including a portion of the Long Trail which ambles all the way up to Canada through deep verdant forest. We didn’t go quite that far, only a little ways into the woods to see the swinging bridge over Mill River gorge.
Cousin Joey and almost-cousin Johnny gave us a tour of the Ann Clark factory They manufacture tin cookie cutters in every shape imaginable – animals, states, holidays, and corporate logos. We were really impressed at how clean and efficient the factory was laid out.
We also toured the Stewart family Sugar Shack, which is a maple syrup factory. Peg’s son runs this amazing operation where they tap 30,000 trees and the sap drips, drop by drop, into half a million feet of tubing strung down the mountain. Raw sap is mostly water and it’s collected in giant vats and pumped into the Sugar Shack where it’s boiled into syrup. The Stewart’s annually produce 12,000 gallons of pure Vermont maple syrup, and are expanding to more acreage of trees.
We had a couple of flights of beer at Vermont Tap House on Main Street. Followed by another trip to Cold River because I just can’t stay away from that beautiful mountain stream. Quite a few rocks will be coming home with us!
But of course, the highlight of our trip was to spend lots of time with family and share many fine meals. Because that’s what a homecoming is all about. Much love to everyone! And many thanks to Bonnie & George for hosting us all week.