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A slice of New England in a corner of Vermont

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By Wayne Lazarus on December 7th, 2009

Categories: Linda's Travel Articles

Just three hours drive from either Boston or New York City is Bennington County with its multitude of outdoor activities, history and New England culture. Located in the Green Mountain National Forest, this southwest corner of Vermont is crossed by hikers of both the Appalachian Trail and the Long Trail, which skirts the ridge of the Green Mountains. In addition to hiking, enthusiasts come to this area for its mountain biking, canoeing, skiing and golf.flyfish5_1000px

Others come here for the history. Just four miles from the New York state line on Vermont Hwy. 9, the 306 foot high Benningtin Battle Monument sits in stately reminder of the Battle of Bennington, fought during the Revolutionary War. Visitors can ride an elevator to the top and see much of the beauty that the Green Mountain Boys, headquartered nearby, were fighting for.

Shortly after the war a Revolutionary soldier began making “redware” pottery from local clay in Bennington. In the next decades, stoneware became a thriving industry here, employing hundreds. Those businesses didn’t survive into the twentieth century. However, Bennington Pottery was opened as a craft pottery by an artist and moved to its present location in 1964. Since then, interest in the sturdy dishes has revived, and thousands of people now visit the Potter’s Yard to collect the stoneware.

Some of the original pottery can be seen at the Bennington Museum, which also houses the largest collection of Grandma Moses paintings available to the public. A frequent subject of Moses’ painting is covered bridges, and there are five in this area. The Bennington Center for the Arts houses the Vermont Covered Bridge Covered BridgeMuseum, and after learning about the history and architecture of the structures, visitors can take a driving tour along highways 67 and  7A to see them.

Along the way are the Robert Frost Stone House Museum in Shjaftsburgy and an exhibit of Normal Rockwell’s work at the Battenkill Gallery in Arlington. The Battenkill River here is famous for fly-fishing, and just a few minutes further along 7A is Manchester, where the Orvis store had its beginning. Nearby is the American Museum of Fly Fishing – with the beautiful work of William Cushner on display. Manchester Center, home to many other New England shopping outlets such as Burberry, Gap Pac Sun and J. Crew lies at the crossroads of 7A and 30. The intersection is also the beginning of the scenic Stone Valley Byway, which takes visitors through the Mettawee Valley all the way to Poultney. No shopping or history, just picturesque farmlands, surrounding mountains and outdoor recreation.

(Fishing gear photo courtesy American Museum of Fly Fishing. Covered bridge photo by Paul Hersey, courtesy Bennington Chamber of Commerce. Both used with permission.)

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