Friday, October 31, 2014

RonnieAdventure #0124 - New Hampshire, 2014 Part 1

The Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge spanning the Connecticut River is 449.5 feet long and connects Vermont to New Hampshire. After two pervious bridges were destroyed by floods, the current bridge was constructed in 1866 at a cost of $9,000. 

The Cornish-Windsor Covered bridge is the longest wooden covered bridge in the United States and the longest two-span covered bridge in the world. In 1989 the State reconstructed and reinforced the bridge at a cost of $4,550,000, so the bridge is now safe for vehicles weighing up to ten tons. 

Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site is managed by the U.S. National Park Service and contains over 100 pieces of Saint-Gauden’s sculptures in galleries, studios, and outdoor exhibit areas. Augustus Saint-Gaudens was one of America’s greatest sculptors (1848-1907) and his works are still regarded to be some of the best sculptures in the world. 

Site exhibits include public monuments, portrait reliefs, and coins. In 1904 President Roosevelt asked Saint-Gaudens to design three coins for the US Mint (a one-cent coin and 10-and-20 dollar gold pieces) and these three coins started a trend that forever changed the look of American coinage.

Dartmouth College is located in Hanover and was one of the nine colonial colleges founded before the American Revolution. Current enrollment is approximately 6,150, which makes Dartmouth the smallest university in the Ivy League.

In 1761 Colonial Governor Wentworth granted land along the Connecticut River to form a community called Tinkertown, but the community's name was later changed to Lyme, after Old Lyme in Connecticut. In the 1770s, the town petitioned to be part of Vermont, but the petition was unsuccessful because Lyme was located on the wrong side of the Connecticut River. 

Lyme was a stopping point along the "Old Boston Turnpike" that was heavily used by stagecoaches; so in 1809 the Lyme Inn was constructed to provide service for overnight guests. The Inn was recently renovated and is once again available for overnight accommodations.  

Across the street from the Lyme Inn is the 200-year-old Congregational Church, which contains a steeple bell cast by Paul Revere. Lyme contains numerous other historic buildings and the town is now home to many physicians and professors from Dartmouth college, which has resulted in very high real estate prices. 

One of the most interesting places to visit in the New London area is the Philbrick-Cricenti Bog. The bog was formed after the ice age when large chunks of glacial ice melted and subsequently left ponds of water in depressed areas. Over thousands of years peat moss progressively covered the ponds, thus creating the bogs. In many places the bog will not support the weight of a human, so board walks have been established throughout the area to create hiking trails. Due to the danger of falling off of the wooden walkway in a soft bog area, the trails are not recommended for anyone under the age of 12 years old.

Daniel Webster was one of America’s most respected orators and statesmen and his birthplace has now been preserved as a New Hampshire State Historic Site. You are allowed to walk around the grounds at any time; however, hours of operation when the buildings are open are very limited. 

The New Hampshire Capitol Building in Concord is the oldest State House in the United States in which the legislature still occupies its original chambers. The block-framed building was constructed in 1819 in the Greek Revival style using smooth granite blocks, which still appear to be in very good condition. A statue of Daniel Webster is located directly in front of the main Capitol entrance. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

RonnieAdventure #0123 - Vermont, 2014 Part III

The Fisher Bridge is really different because you typically do not see  a covered railroad bridge. The Fisher Bridge was built over the Lamoille River in 1908 using Town-Pratt double lattice trusses and was constructed with a full-length cupola to allow smoke from the steam locomotives to exit the bridge. Although it was raining off-and-on, the foliage color along the road was still very beautiful!

Most people that visit Stowe stop by the Trapp Family Lodge, which is a unique luxury mountain resort located on 2,500 acres of beautiful mountain land. The resort was developed by the von Trapp Family that inspired The Sound of Music and features Austrian-inspired architecture and European-style accommodations. The resort is currently managed by the Grandchildren of Captain and Maria von Trapp.

No trip through Vermont in the fall would be complete without stopping at the Cold Hollow Cider Mill for hot apple cider and homemade cider donuts. You can also watch the staff making cider, donuts, and baked goods -- and they have free samples!

Located just down the road from the cider mill is Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream factory that offers 30-minute tours with free samples at the end of the tour. (Okay, Okay, I’ll diet when I get home!) Also of interest is the Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard where you can view the headstones for all of the dearly de-pinted (retired) flavors. The older part of the graveyard contains low-budget headstones, while the newer part of the graveyard has nice granite headstones.  

Montpelieris a great place to stop for lunch while you enjoy a view of the Capitol building.

If you have never seen a 600-foot deep granite quarry, you need to stop by the Rock of Ages in Graniteville. After a 45 minute bus tour of the quarry, you are allowed to visit the factory where you can watch artisans cut, carve, and polish stone. They also have modern laser etchers and computer-aided saws that greatly reduce the man-hours required for many projects, but some people still want hand-carved items. And, if you are so inclined, you can even order a granite headstone for future use.

Near South Royalton is the Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial that contains a visitor center and a 38.5-foot tall smooth polished granite obelisk that is one of the tallest obelisk in the world. Joseph Smith was the first latter-day prophet and President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

In Vermont, Quechee Gorge is often referred to as the "Grand Canyon of the East" and is a popular tourist destination. Although you can hike to the bottom of the gorge, you can also drive to the bottom of the canyon in a wider portion of the canyon where the canyon walls are not as steep. On the road we drove on, there is a nice covered bridge at the bottom of the canyon that crosses the Ottauquechee River.

The Taftsville Covered Bridge in Woodstock is one of the oldest covered bridges in Vermont. It was built in 1836 by connecting two spans (one span is 89 feet long and the other span is 100 feet long) using multiple Kingport Trusses with an arch.

The Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park is the only unit of the U.S. National Park Service (except for a portion of the Appalachian Trail) in the State of Vermont. The park contains 643 acres of trails and honors the families that transferred the property to the Federal government in 1992. The Marsh home is open for public tours and contains many of the original furnishings.

At 2:47 am on August 3, 1923, Vice President Calvin Coolidge became the 30th president of the United States when President Harding passed away and Coolidge took the oath of office in the family homestead modest frame and clapboard farmhouse in Plymouth Notch. The site is now a State Historic Site and contains the Coolidge birthplace (a small house attached to his father’s store), Coolidge’s boyhood home (newer house located directly across the street from birthplace), the church he attended (located adjacent to the birthplace), and other homes, barns, and stores.

I don’t know anything about baking or flour; but I agreed to stop at the King Arthur Flour Store in Norwich, which is really a store, school, bakery and café all rolled into one large complex. This complex offers so many products and activities that it is a trip destination for many baking enthusiasts. The store offers all types of ingredients, mixes, tools, and pans; plus the Baking Education Center has classes for bakers of all levels. You can also watch the staff preparing special orders and working in the store’s bakery, or you can just have something to eat at their café. Did I mention that you can also have free samples!

Since we spent time at the King Arthur Flower Center, it was only fitting that we visit the American Precision Museum in Windsor, which is housed in the original Robbins & Lawrence Armory. Robbins & Lawrence developed the tools and methods that made high accuracy parts and mass production possible; thus, changing the world forever. The museum contains the largest collection of historically significant machine tools in the nation. My wife said that it was the most boring place she has ever visited in her life! (Where are Jerry and  Lyle when I need them!)

The Old Constitution House in Windsor is the birthplace of the Vermont Republic and the Constitution of the State of Vermont. In the 18th century the British Royal Governors from both New Hampshire and New York laid claim to the lands now known as Vermont, so to settle the dispute King George III finally gave control of the lands to New York. The settlers living in the area were unhappy with the exorbitant New York taxes, so Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys formed a militia aligned primarily against the New York Governor

The militia met in the Elijah West’s Tavern (now Old Constitution House) and declared its independence from all external forces and adopted the name “New Connecticut,” but later changed the name to “Vermont.” In 1777 they held their own constitutional convention and drafted a constitution patterned after Benjamin Franklin’s constitution for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Vermont Republic continued for fourteen years; then in 1891, Vermont joined the Federal Union, becoming the first state admitted to the Union after the original 13 colonies.