Attractions ~ Exploring Hawk Country ~ Plymouth, Vermont
In the early 1960s, the founders of Hawk searched far and wide for the perfect Vermont setting in which to establish a world-class resort that could both profit from and complement its unique natural surroundings. They found that place in the historic town of Plymouth; and the town has remained virtually untouched since that day.
Already well-known as both the birthplace and final resting spot of President Calvin Coolidge, the town of Plymouth has greatly benefitted from an aggressive preservation program. The center of town has been meticulously maintained almost exactly as it was at the turn-of-the-century. However, even though Plymouth remains the epitome of the quaint, rural Vermont town you've always dreamed of, it is far from being cut-off from the rest of the world. The town is bordered by Killington on the north, Ludlow (home of Okemo Ski Resort) on the south, and Woodstock is located to the east, just one town away.
Noteworthy Attractions in and Around Plymouth
Calvin Coolidge Historic Site, Plymouth Notch
This historic district was the birthplace, boyhood home and "Summer White House" of Calvin Coolidge, the thirtieth president of the United States. The rural Vermont village of Plymouth has remained virtually unchanged since that time. The homes of Calvin Coolidge's family, the community church, cheese factory, one-room schoolhouse, and general store have been carefully preserved, as have many have their original furnishings. The President is buried in the town cemetery. Exhibits are open May through October. (802) 672-3773
Plymouth Cheese Factory, Plymouth Notch
Located on the homestead where President Calvin Coolidge was born, the factory remains an integral part of the town's remarkable history. See cheese being made the old-fashioned way, and visit the shop for tasting and purchasing the many varieties of Vermont cheese. (802) 672-3650
Coolidge State Park, Plymouth
Bordering Hawk property deep in the woods, but with a main entrance near the Coolidge Historic Site, the Coolidge State Park is a magnificent stretch of forest, complete with hiking trails, numerous brooks and the long-abandoned town of Five Corners. After exploring Hawk's own trail network, head over here to continue the journey and see what is on the other side of our hills. Open mid-May through Columbus Day. (802) 672-3612
Camp Plymouth State Park, Plymouth
If you continue on Billings Road through Hawk property, past the Hawk Stables and Lake Amherst on an old back road, you will eventually find yourself on the east edge of Lake Echo where the Camp Plymouth State Park is located. A public beach and hiking trails are available. Open mid-May through Labor Day. (802) 228-2025
Bear Creek Mountain Club, Plymouth
Formerly the old Round Top ski area, the new Bear Creek Club operates as a private ski mountain. The mountain is a place where members and their guests can avoid the lift lines of commercial ski areas and "live it up" in a small, luxurious base lodge, while having the slopes all to themselves. (802) 672-4242
Long Trail Brewing Company, Bridgewater Corners
Founded in 1989, this top-quality regional microbrewery produces the popular Long Trail Ale, among other specialty and seasonal beers. Located on the banks of the Ottauquechee River is their factory and visitors' center, which provides tours and tastings for beer-lovers year-round. (802) 572-5011
A Brief History
Plymouth, Vermont chartered July 6, 1761, as Saltash, was granted to Jeremiah Hall and 63 others by Governor Benning Wentworth of New Hampshire. The name was changed to Plymouth in 1797. The Province of New York granted the same land to Ichabod Fisher in 1772, but no trouble arose over the duplication and the New Hampshire grant prevailed in this rugged mountain town of approximately 25,000 acres.
The Crown Point Military Road, built in 1759-1760 to transport arms from Charlestown, NH, to Crown Point, NY, passed through the southern half of Plymouth at the head of Amherst Lake, named for English General Jeffrey Amherst, who was instrumental in establishing the road.
In 1777, John Mudge from Fitchburg, Massachusetts, built a log cabin on the side of the Kingdom Mountain (Weaver Hill, next to Crown Point Road.) William Mudge was the first child born in Plymouth. John Coolidge, of the First Continental Army, became familiar with the territory, and returned after the war to make his home near the military road. Other settlers also came after the close of the Revolution. John Coolidge would later become one of Plymouth's first Selectmen in 1787, two years after the town was organized. Fifteen families called Plymouth home at the time.
Although the town was one of the earliest chartered in Windsor County, Plymouth's isolated location, which gave cause for privation and hardship, made it less desirable than neighboring towns. The population was 106 in 1790, but ten years later the inhabitants numbered 500.
Forested land was cleared for agriculture, and it was discovered early that Plymouth had a wealth of various minerals. Deposits of lime, granite, marble, soapstone, iron and gold were found. Much of the rock in the town is limestone, and the manufacturing of lime was the first substantial industry to accompany agriculture. By 1834, a marble factory was in operation. Discovering a rich deposit of iron ore, Isaac Tyson started a mining and blast furnace operation in 1837. A village, given the name Tyson Furnace, sprang up around this thriving enterprise. In the 1840's, Plymouth's population reached a peak of 1,497.
Although mining and associated businesses were beneficial to Plymouth's economy, agriculture and lumbering were the main pursuits. During the first half of the nineteenth century, the wool market was booming. However, when the wool business declined after the opening of large western tracts to sheep-raising, many of the small farmers began to move away.
Plymouth Five Corners and an area northeast of Tyson were the scenes of some frantic and extensive gold mining operations, following the discovery of the precious mineral in Buffalo Brook about 1857. No bonanza was ever struck, however, and after a time the projects were abandoned. Five Corners, once a well-populated cross-roads community, eventually had nothing but cellar holes and a cemetery to show for all the feverish activity it once knew.
At one time, a survey was made for a railroad through Plymouth, to connect Ludlow with a proposed Rutland to Woodstock line, but it was never built. Beers Windsor County Atlas of 1869 shows the planned route.
Place names in Plymouth have a basis in history. Gold Brook derives from the gold rush, and Money Brook recalls the place where counterfeiters were caught on Saltash Mountain in 1807. Pinney Hollow, Hale Hollow and Weaver Hill were all named for early settlers. Dublin, part of Tyson, was the home of several Irish families who worked for the iron company. Ninevah and the Kingdom no doubt had religious connotations. Frog City was once the most populated section of Plymouth. The piping of frogs in its mill pond perhaps gave rise to its designation.
Early religious life comprised Congregational, Baptist, Methodist, Christian and Free Will Baptist groups, as well as Spiritualists. The first church, a Union meeting house, was built in Plymouth Kingdom in 1816. The Methodist Church was located in Unionville, as Plymouth Union was called, and there was a Union Church at Plymouth Notch. The latter and the Congregational Church in Tyson are still active.
Plymouth once had seventeen school districts, with school houses of one room. The number gradually dwindled to three and eventually all were replaced by one modern central school.
Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States, was born in Plymouth Notch in 1872 in a room in the back of his father's store. The family moved to a house across the road, and there Coolidge was given the oath of office August 3, 1923, by his father, a Justice of the Peace, upon the death of President Harding. Scenes of Coolidge's childhood have been restored by the Vermont Historic Sites Commission, the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Association, and also privately, in recognition of Plymouth's unique role in our nation's history.
Today, many people visit the modest birthplace of Calvin Coolidge and the hillside cemetery where he is at final rest. They vacation on the scenic lakes, ski the inviting hills, enjoy life at mountain resorts or at the area's fine summer camps.
Plymouth has seen many changes since the first settlers came. The friendly and enduring hills of Plymouth remain changeless, however, offering inspiration and a sense of stability to all who will lift up their eyes. Those who dwell among them, either by right of birth or self-determination, have ample reason to be proud of the rich heritage that is theirs.
Note: This passage was excerpted from A Plymouth Album: A Pictorial History of Plymouth, Vermont, available at Hawk's farmhouse gift shop.
Hawk's Guide to Vermont Shopping and check-out some of the wonderful shops in Plymouth and the surrounding towns.
Ludlow / Okemo (10 minutes)
The Killington Region (10 minutes)
Woodstock (20 minutes)
Weston (25 minutes)
Rutland (30 minutes)
Quechee (35 minutes)
Manchester (45 minutes)
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