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Green Mountain State

State Motto: Freedom and Unity
Nickname: The Green Mountain State
Capital: Montpelier
Largest City: Burlington
Population: 625,741
The only land-locked state of New England and the smallest land-locked state of the entire U.S., Vermont is ranked 45th in land area and 49th in population. Nearly 3.8% of the state is covered in water with the rest covered in mostly forests. Vermont’s largest city/metropolitan area constitutes for approximately one-third of the states population. The state capital is the least-populated capital in the country. Although Vermont is the home-place of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream there is more to the state than sweet treats.

The Green Mountain State name’s origin is uncertain, however, it is likely that it came from the French les verts monts meaning “the green mountains”. Dr. Thomas Young, a mentor to Ethan Allen, introduced the name in 1777, the year the Vermont Republic was founded. Earlier in the year, however, delegates from towns in the territory chose the name the Republic of New Connecticut. (Vermont Republic) Before this, Vermont was the center of a dispute between the colonies of New Hampshire and New York. This dispute was over the land between the Connecticut River and Lake Champlain, referred to as “New Hampshire Grants”, in which New York was given validation of ownership in 1764 by the British crown. New York then required those granted titles to surrender them and to buy back their lands at greater prices. The Green Mountain Boys, a group (and later militia) composed of settlers and land speculators that held titles for land in the New Hampshire Grants territory, opposed of this and this led to the formation of the Vermont Republic. The Vermont Republic lasted for fourteen years – one of seventeen U.S. states (Texas, Hawaii, California Republic, and the thirteen colonies) that had sovereign governments. In 1791, Vermont joined the United States as the fourteenth state, the first outside of the original thirteen colonies and the first in the Union to have abolished slavery since it was abolished while Vermont was independent.
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More than half of modern day Vermont is bordered by Lake Champlain to the west and bordered in its entirety by the Connecticut River to the east. Lake Champlain, the largest of more than 400 lakes and ponds in Vermont, is the sixth largest body of fresh water in the United States. It is also the lowest point in the state varying from 95-100ft above mean sea level. The lake is situated in the Lake Champlain Valley, a part of the Great Appalachian Valley, between the Green Mountains of Vermont and the Adirondack Mountains of New York. Roughly forty-one percent of the state gets their drinking water from Lake Champlain. The second largest lake is Lake Seymour a natural lake that is on a tributary that drains into Echo Lake eventually draining into the Clyde River. Clyde River itself is a
View from Killington Peak
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Fall view from Killington Peak © 2010 Richard Harrington
tributary for Lake Memphramagog, a lake shared by Vermont and Quebec, Canada. Otter Creek in western Vermont is the longest river outside of the bordering Connecticut River. It is 112 miles long, but a majority of the length is due to meandering. Despite having over 400 lakes and ponds, more than seventy-five percent of the state’s total area is forested. Meadows, wetlands, highlands (low mountainous regions) and the aforementioned lakes and ponds occupy the rest of the land. Vermont has over 200 mountains over 2,000 feet in elevation, the highest being Mount Mansfield. Mount Mansfield rises 4,395 feet above sea level and has approximately 200 acres of alpine tundra. It is the highest point in Vermont. The second tallest mountain in Vermont is further south near Killington. Killington Peak is approximately 4,235 feet and is a stop on the Long Trail, a hiking trail through Vermont, which overlaps with the Appalachian hiking trail for over 100 miles. Going south along the Appalachian Trail, Killington Peak is the last peak over 4,000 feet until the trail gets into Virginia.

Vermont’s geography lends itself to many tourism spots, mostly mountains for skiing, snowboarding, and hiking. Temperatures vary by region or elevation, averaging in the lower 70’s in the valleys and upper 50’s in the mountains. The temperatures in the summer tend to be more uniform across the state than winter temperatures. Sub-zero days are not uncommon, and in fact are a regular occurrence in some locations. Vermont receives precipitation throughout the year, though, in some areas the precipitation is more in the winter than summer. Average precipitation for the state is between 36 to 43 inches
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depending on region. Rainfall and snowmelt can cause some flooding in the spring, which is affectionately called “mud season”. Average snowfall is between 67 to 101 inches, again depending on region. The terrain and weather contribute to tourism in the state. The cold winters and high snowfall make the high

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View of ice fishing shanties on Lake Champlain with Vermont in the background © 2009 Richard Harrington
mountains ideal for skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling. There are over thirteen ski resorts in Vermont, mostly located in the Green Mountains. Skiing is not the only winter time activity. Visitors and natives alike can be seen in shanties ice fishing over the numerous lakes and ponds that freeze over every year. Ice-skating and sleigh rides are also available in some areas. During the springtime and summer camping, cycling, and hiking are common amongst the state parks and mountain trails. Those seeking to see the multiple colors of the leaves may visit between Labor Day and Columbus Day for the spectacular foliage. Most of Vermont’s fall colors are provided by red and sugar maples. Festivals bring in tourists as well. Tourism is an important industry in the state.

Tourism is one of the main sources of income in Vermont; however, tourism is not the only thing that comes from the mountains. Mining accounts for $100 million of the gross state product as of 2008. The largest granite quarry in America is the Rock of Ages quarry located in Graniteville near the town of Barre (not to be confused with the City of Barre). “Barre Gray” granite is sought after worldwide because of its fine grain and superior weather resistance. Marble and slate are also mined - Vermont being the largest producer of slate in the country. Though a large portion of Vermont is covered in trees, there is still a substantial amount of land used for other agricultural endeavors. Dairy farming is the primary source of agricultural income even though the number of dairy farms has been declining by approximately ten percent annually. Other agricultural products include apples, hay, and maple-syrup. Vermont is the leading maple-syrup producing state in the U.S. and produces 5.5% of the global supply. In 2010 there were about 2,000 producers of maple products in Vermont. Artisan foods, fancy foods, and novelty item manufacturing and sales are a growing part of the economy with products such as cheeses, beers, wines and ales, and teddy bears.
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Vermont has more colleges per capita with 23 colleges or universities. The major colleges/universities are as follows:
  • University of Vermont; Burlington, Vermont (largest city in Vermont)
  • Norwich University1; Northfield, Vermont (population: 6,207 as of 2010)
  • Middlebury College; Middlebury, Vermont (population: 8,496 as of 2010)
Norwich University is the oldest private military college in the country and is the birthplace of ROTC. Prior to statehood Vermont seems to have had a love affair with the number fourteen. Vermont was, of course, the fourteenth state admitted to the union. Vermont also has fourteen counties (Addison, Bennington, Caledonia, Chittenden, Essex, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille, Orange, Orleans, Rutland, Washington, Windham, and Windsor). Before statehood, Vermont had only ten. Coins minted between 1785 and 1786 bore the Latin phrase “stella quarta decima” meaning “the fourteenth star” referencing Vermont’s desire to join the United States. (Recall that prior to 1795 the U.S. flag only had thirteen stars to represent the thirteen colonies.) Even their state seal has the number fourteen in it as represented by the fourteen limbed pine tree. Other interesting facts are that Vermont was the birthplace of two U.S. Presidents, one of which was the only President to be born on the fourth of July. Chester A. Arthur, the 21st president who gained presidency after the death of James Garfield, and Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president who gained presidency after the sudden death of Warren G. Harding. Hard as it may be to believe, one of the oldest tropical reefs is located partially in Isle de Motte a city located on an island in Lake Champlain. The remains of the Chazy Formation are now a site for the quarrying of limestone, the limestone of which is made up of fossils from ancient marine life.

Vermont offers a slow paced atmosphere that is sure to relax anyone. The seeming small town charm would be enough for anyone to want to visit at least once. The mild summers would be great for getting outdoors, but I doubt the cold winters would be something I’d enjoy.

1 The Vermont Community College school system is the second largest “college” spread out across 12 different locations.
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