Sunday, August 7, 2016

Vermont -- Capitol, Ice Cream and Rocks

After leaving Quebec we stayed in Barre, VT for a few days before going to the Escapade in nearby Essex Junction.  We added the Vermont capitol to our list, tasted a bit of Ben & Jerry's ice cream and toured the Rock of Ages stone quarry. 
This is the third capitol in Montpelier.  It was built to replace the second one which burned in 1857.  The front portico was the only part of the burned building that was in good enough shape to be part of this building.  You can still see fire damage on the columns.  The 57 foot high dome is painted with gold leaf and topped with a statue of Agriculture.  The original statue was replaced in 1938.  This was our 20th capitol tour and the first where we could get into the building without going through a medal detector.  Very interesting.  
The statue of the leader of the Green Mountain Boys, Ethan Allen, has been on the front portico since 1886.  Allen is famous for capturing Fort Ticonderoga in May 1775 without firing a shot.  It was the first victory for the patriots and provided the artillery used in the siege of Boston.  Like the Agriculture statue, this statue was replaced in 1941 because of deterioration. 
The 30 member Senate chamber has all the original furnishings with the addition of modern electronics.   
Unlike the other legislative chambers we have toured, this one has a very small gallery overlooking the floor.  Visitors are allowed to use seats on the floor when the Senate is in session.  As part of the guided tour we were able to sit in the lawmakers' seats. 
The Governor's office has been restored to its 1859 appearance, including the paintings, carpet and desk.  Today it is only used for ceremonial purposes when the legislature is in session.  The chair behind the desk was carved from timbers from the U.S.S. Constitution, "Old Ironsides." 
The 150 member House of Representatives chamber is restored to its 1859 appearance, but has fewer desks because the number of representatives has been reduced.  The chandelier was originally a gas fired light.  The painting of George Washington is a 1836 copy of Gilbert Stuart's original.  It was saved when the old building burned in 1857. 
The marble floor at the entrance has fossils in several of the tiles.  The portraits are the two presidents who were from Vermont, Calvin Coolidge and Chester Arthur.
The Cedar Creek Reception Room has this huge painting of the Civil War battle at Cedar Creek, a battle where many Vermonters fought.  The artist used pictures of the soldiers who were there making the painting a more accurate representation of the battle.  The Vermont capitol is a very well preserved building that has been restored to its original 1850's grandeur. 
Montpelier is the smallest of the 50 state capitol cities.  The downtown is very quaint with many well preserved buildings.
Just down the road in Waterbury is the Ben & Jerry's factory.  This iconic ice cream business was started in Burlington in 1978.  They continue to make a great product while being socially responsible even though the company is now owned by world wide conglomerate Unilever. 
We arrived and were shocked to find an hour and a half wait for a tour and this long line just to get into the roped queue to buy ice cream.
We waited and found the tour to be interesting but no pictures were allowed.  I went for the Stephen Colbert American Dream and Nanc opted for the butter pecan. 
If you love ice cream don't forget that April 12th is free cone day at Ben & Jerry's.
Just down the road from the campground is the Rock of Ages granite quarry.  The company started here in 1885.  The company quarries stone and makes civic and personal memorials.  
It is impossible to capture the scale of the quarry.  Each of those lines in the stone is 28 feet high.  There is more than 300 feet of rock exposed and over 200 feet under water.  When they get down to the water level they will pump the water out to access that stone making the whole thing nearly 600 feet deep.
The pool of clearer water on the left is an area that has not been used for several years while the water on the right is clouded with particles of stone from the active quarry.
Even though they have been taking stone out of the quarry since 1885, they will not be running out any time soon.  At the present rate they have enough stone to quarry this site for another 4600 years. 
We did not tour the factory where they carve the stone but we found many pieces of their work including this granite bowling alley, a failed attempt to find another use for their stone.
This statue in Barre is a tribute to the Italian stone masons who worked at the factory.
Not to be missed is Hope Cemetery where you can see many examples of their work.  A couple together forever in stone.
A throne or just a chair, it is still carved from stone.
A race car.
A couple of M&M nuts who are really planning ahead.
Even a biplane for a flight enthusiast.  

We had a great time and squeezed a lot into four days in the area.  This is a part of the country we definitely want to return to some day.


Doing It On the Road(Part II) said...

Cool stone! The quarry is the same depth as the height of Devils Tower!
The other pictures are nice too.

heyduke50 said...

i like the golden domer capitols... haven't been to that one yet...