This is our final hike and post of our fabulous Fall and water fall trip to Sapphire, NC! The waterfalls were what caught Bill’s attention, this is a place to hike with lots of great rewards. Our last post, contained two hikes in the Gorges State Park. Our first post contained the best waterfalls we could find in this area. So this one was a bit more about challenges, some waterfalls but the view was the best of all our hikes. We didn’t know that when we selected it – which is our usual method. What we do know is that you can’t drive anywhere with out seeing beauty in this area!
We have three more hikes to share while we were in Sapphire, NC. The first two, in our last post, were the most spectacular! But the other three were still great hikes, very challenging and encouraging to me, Debbie.
I mention my knees issues every once in a while. I am so grateful I can still hike! I was told in 2004, I’d need a partial knee replacement in five years. Never happened. I found a different doctor who prescribed a better regimen but I was also told to avoid stairs. So I do as much as possible. I have had two meniscus repairs on each knee. My last X-rays were very encouraging, no knee replacements in either in my future. Can I shout, Praise the Lord!!! It really is miraculous because I did abuse my knees with long distance running in the beautiful city of Philadelphia, but on the sidewalks. My mom warned me I would wear out my knees. I was a bit disrepectful and said God created them to run so I’ll be OK. Needless to say, mom was right! I have to use caution with any activities. I can’t walk fast let alone run, but I can take slow walks on hard packed dirt or sand and I can HIKE! There is something about being in and around God’s creation that brings me much peace and joy!
9/13/2022 Windy Hills Fall hike – attempted but failed.
Our first hike in the Gorges State Park was more or less a failure. We thought we were hiking to another beautiful waterfall, called Windy Falls. There are pictures of it in the All Trails App but it was impossible for us to hike to see it using the app and designated trail. There is a glitch of some sort. However, we still had a great time and learned we should not climb over road closure arm. We entered Toxaway Game Land. It wasn’t marked. We were told Gorges State Park was NC’s newest campground so perhaps that was why there wasn’t better signage.
Let me back up. I should start at the beginning of our day. Using All Trails App, we looked for great hikes closer to us. Gorges State Park was only about 15-20 minute drive. We had plans to at least hike 6 if not more miles. Normally, we stop in Visitor Centers, especially when it is so convenient to the trail head. We decided we wanted to hit the trail and, after all, the All Trails App had the trail map and a great review to Windy Hill Fall trail then on to the Rainbow Falls. Follow our hike in the slide show, below. It looked well marked in the beginning. But as noted above, we hit a glitch;
After the fact, we realized we could have had a disaster as we descended. I couldn’t take pictures and use my poles most of the way from the barricade to the end of the trail. It was narrow, lots of roots and rocks. The review warned us of this so we were not concerned. But by the time we could go no further, we realized we made a mistake. In the Visitor Center, we later learned we had entered Toxaway Game Land. There were no warning signs, but maybe a barricade was a clue we weren’t entering a viable State Park trail. While we wanted to hike more miles, we encountered another couple that let us know, we needed to call it a day.
9/14/2022 Rainbow Falls and Turtle Back Falls
As mentioned above, had intentions of ALSO hiking to Rainbow Falls the day before. To get to the Rainbow Falls, there is a steep descent – so one must be prepared to climb back up and out. We literally bumped into a really nice couple in the parking lot, then ended up hiking the entire trail with them. They were maybe 15 years younger but were novice hikers. Perhaps they thought we might need help since we had hiking poles. We thought they might need help since we’re so “experienced.” We were tipped off the day before, it is a tough trail. We did fine. We actually were forced to go slow because there were a lot of other hikers. What they learned from us was to get hiking poles!
Follow our hike in this slide show. To read the captions, click on the first image then view as a slide show:
This trail was challenging for those not used to hiking. Unless one reads the description of it at the trail head, they may not realize the challenges. The day before, we met a couple who just finished the hike. We had gone nearly four miles challenging miles, they said this one was also challenging in the descent then ascent.
While we waited to get our pictures taken, we talked to an “urban” couple. They wanted to experience a lot of fresh air on their vacation. They had no idea what they were in for, but in their determination, they made it to the Falls. However, it was slippery and the woman lost her footing and slide down. Fortunately, the fence caught her! It was a heart stopping moment. Thankfully, she was not injured. We met up with them on our way back to the car. The were sitting on a bench about 1/4 mile from the parking lot. They were catching their breath. They had not carried water but had some in their car. They needed a drink so we offered to go get it. They thanked us and said they learned some valuable lessons if they ever decide to take a “hike!”
Stay tuned for our final hike to Salt Rock Gap trails. It’s been nearly two months since we were here. Writing this up has helped us to book another trip here – in the Spring.
My final thoughts as I finish this post:
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him!”Psalms 28:7
Bill continues to serve as our Travel Adventure Director. He never disappoints. I am always amazed at the places he finds for us. So for this quick one week trip as close to home as possible with challenging hikes, we traveled to Sapphire, NC. He said he picked this area because of all the water falls.
First, a bit about our accommodations at Fairway Forest Resort. We are members of RCI (Resorts Condominiums International). We needed a better way to travel after giving up Recreational Vehicles. We actually stumbled upon this travel idea. It is too complicated to explain, let’s just say it is working for us. This week was our ninth week since joining a year ago. The condos are fully furnished with fully equipped kitchens. We have not been disappointed in any of our accommodations. This one ranked up as one of the best – but then I seem to say that after every week. Maybe our expectations are lowered, or maybe they are higher, no matter, our expectations each trip so far have been exceeded.
Our two story condo was on a golf course, next to a National Forest with a babbling brook running nearby. The sound was so soothing! The outside appearance was really not all that lovely, but inside, it was perfect. We had a two bedroom, two bath. Full kitchen, dining table, living area with a fireplace, sliding doors from both of these areas are technically on the second floor and went out to a large balcony and overlooked a hidden golf course. Stairs are my nemesis but these were carpeted, not steep and easy on my knees. The stairs went downstairs to the master bedroom ensuite. HUGE jetted bathtub with a separate shower. Full washer and dryer with plenty of closets and drawers to unpack. We also had a sliding glass door to an outside patio. I have lots of photos but really, they do not do it justice.
We went on five fabulous hikes, plus visited with friends who have a cabin in the area. Little did we know we were staying so close to them so it was bonus to spend an evening with them.
September 11, 2022 Glen Falls Trail
My review on All Trails, which I rated four out of five stars: We like to hike to falls wherever we can. We’re in this area for a week because of all the Falls. This hike had the most robust and gorgeous falls! The trail was challenging so it was well worth the length and rewards. We had poles – and needed them for balance around some mud, all the roots and rocks. These are natural in a forest! The trail was well traveled but no signs after the first one. Fortunately someone familiar with it helped us at one junction-not marked. Conditions: Muddy, Rocky, Great!
Sadly, I had a hard time getting the All Trails App to record the hike. But I used my Apple Watch which said it was about three miles. We had a picnic at the bottom of the trail. It was a three and back.
A slide show of a few pictures:
September 12, 2022 Nantahala Whitewater Falls & Foothills Trail
My review from All Trails, which earned five stars out of five! Fabulous! We started at the Whitewater Falls, then hopped on the foothills trail to Grassy Knob. Great views. Two areas with benches as we climbed Grassy Knob. Trail was excellent, just one area needs maintenance from fallen trees. We need to carry a saw!
Stats: Length, 4.81 miles (Actual was 5 miles); Elevation gain 702 ft; Moving time 3:02:08
And we thought Glenn Falls was fabulous. This is THE WATERFALL that makes this area famous for waterfalls! From the Forest Service website:
“Whitewater Falls owes its existence to the Blue Ridge Escarpment, a sharp drop in elevation between the mountains and the Piedmont.
“With a 411-foot plunge, Upper Whitewater Falls in North Carolina is the highest waterfall east of the Rockies. South Carolina’s Lower Whitewater Falls falls another 400 feet.
“Because of the escarpment’s difficult access and rugged terrain, much of the area receives few visitors and has remained wild and undeveloped over the years.”
A slide show with captions of a few pictures:
In a recent Bible study, we looked at Psalms 90. I thought of our wonderful time in these beautiful mountains and the prayer of Moses:
“A prayer of Moses the man of God. Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”Psalms 90:2
We still have three more days of hiking to share. So stay tuned. We liked this area so much, we are returning in the Spring!
For our second week of hiking, we drove from Wilmington, Vermont to Pittsfield, Massachusetts. We were still celebrating our 47th Anniversary, but decided to change our “heading.” When you go through as much as we have, you’d understand why we have so much to celebrate! And we usually do big things in April.
In case you don’t know us, this blog was started to share the story about our marriage (4/11/1975), separated in August 1988, divorced (12/13/1989), reconciliation, and remarriage (8/19/1989). When we married, like all young couples, we had a dream of living happily ever. That dream was shattered 13 years later. Then a miracle happened. And we know for any divorced couple to be restored back to holy matrimony, it takes a miracle. You can read our story by starting here. There are links with chapter headings for 26 marriage blog posts. Once we became grandparents in 2013, we changed the blog site to write about our travel adventures. And here we are, in our second week of travel adventures in April 2022.
We are thanking God I can indeed still hike! In our younger days, until just a few years ago 😁, we went for long-distance hikes – for us, six + miles. So I am excited to know how much/or little, I can still hike! Anyway, here is a recap of our second week and what is ahead in this and the remaining posts about our time in northeastern Massachusetts:
The week of April 23 – 30, 2022
4/23/2022 Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary Trail (Hiked 3.2 miles)
4/24/2022 Shaker Village (walked 3.4 miles)
4/25/2022 Mahanna Cobble Bousquet Loop (Hiked 5.9 miles)
4/26/2022 Toured Ventfort Hall
4/27/2022 Shaker Mountain (Hiked 3.9 miles)
4/28/2022 Deerfield MA (toured the historic town, walked 2.4)
4/29/2022 Bradley Farm Interpretative Trail at Greylock Mountain (Hiked 2.4 miles – although we hoped for a 6+ mile hike)
4/30/2022 Drove to Winchester, Virginia (We celebrated our daughter’s birthday)
When we traveled full time in our motor home, we preferred to not drive more than 250 miles in one day for a variety of reasons. One of our main reasons was so we could still do something, such as a long walk, on our day of travel. Our drive from Wilmington to Pittsfield was perfect and reminded us of how we traveled in the past. By design, it was only a 45-mile trip to change mountain ranges! So it took over 80 minutes. Here is a slideshow of the drive as well as both the inside and outside of the Berkshire Mountain Lodge, where we stayed:
In our last blog post, we didn’t get any feedback from the “Relive” app which creates a short “movie.” That one was our drive through the Green Mountains, from Wilmington, Vermont to Hildene in Manchester, Vermont. I tracked our drive from Wilmington to Pittsfield. Relive then makes a video, which I’ve posted it below. Bill has enjoyed these because as the driver, he misses some of the scenery! I know I am enjoying watching Appalachian through-hikers using the app. It is amazing technology. Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below:
Once we arrived and put everything away, we headed out to Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary Trail. It was just over three miles away, less than a 10-minute drive to get there. Perhaps we had been a bit too aggressive on our hikes in Vermont. We decided on our first day here, we start on a flatter trail. And this was the perfect trail for us, for the most part. There was one very swampy area that was challenging. I was unable to take any pictures because I was too busy balancing with my poles as I tiptoed over roots, branches, rocks, and whatever else to not get my feet and shoes soaking wet. We were successful. Phew! Here is a slide show that documents the beauty and you can see the potential for difficult areas to traverse:
Bill not only selected the condo, but he also figures out great places to visit. He uses both Trip Advisor as well as Pinterest. The Shaker Village was on his list. We previously toured and enjoyed the South Union Shaker Village (1807-1922) in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Quoting myself from that blog post: “One thing we like to do as we travel is to learn unusual history and to honor those whose lives are memorialized in museums, in parks, gardens, and even cemeteries.” The Shakers fall into all of these categories at the Hancock Shaker Village.
April 24, 2022 – Hancock Shaker Village, Massachusetts We didn’t learn any more about these particular farmers. Interesting as we learned in the South Union Shaker Village, they kept meticulous records and diaries. I am sure the information is there, just not readily available. We questioned the one docent we met in the cellar of the Brick Dwelling why they may have not only made a big donation, but in essence, turned their lives and the lives of their children over to a relatively new “religious” order. He surmised life was very hard then and this offered the help needed to survive. An interesting note, to be a Shaker, one must take a vow of celibacy as well as turn their children over to the “village” to be cared for. The children actually contributed with age-appropriate chores. Anyway, this village endured until the last remaining partials of ground were sold off by the few remaining members in 1959. From the website:
Hancock Shaker Village began in the late 1780s, when nearly 100 Believers consolidated a community on land donated by local farmers who had converted to the Shaker movement. By the 1830s, with a great many more conversions and additional land acquisitions, the Shaker community peaked in population with more than 300 Believers and more than 3,000 acres.
During the height of their growth, religious fervor, and influence, the Hancock Shakers erected communal dwelling houses, barns, workshops, and other buildings, and developed a large and successful farm. With the 1826 Round Stone Barn as the center of a thriving dairy industry, and with many acres cultivated in medicinal herbs, vegetables, fruits, and other crops, the Hancock Shakers enjoyed a simple, peaceful, and hard-working life, separated from the ways of “The World.” They named their utopian village The City of Peace, and organized the large community into six smaller communal groups known as Families for efficiency of work, worship, and administration.
The Shakers were proficient in a wide array of crafts, trades and industries, including woodworking and metalworking, basketry, spinning, weaving and broom making. They developed their own water-powered mills for grinding grain, sawing wood, and manufacturing textiles. The Shakers were highly regarded for their honesty and industriousness, and for the quality of their products, which became an important source of income.
Eventually, forces outside the community, including the industrial revolution and the shifting of America from a rural to an urban society, worked against their continued growth and stability. By the early 1900s, with dwindling converts, the Shaker population at Hancock declined to about 50 Believers, most of them Sisters and orphan girls who had been adopted by the community, and only a few adult Brethren.
Many outlying acres of land were sold off, and buildings were razed during the final decades of the Hancock community. In 1959, when the Shakers could no longer maintain their City of Peace, they sold the remaining property to a local group committed to preserving the Shaker heritage. The utopian village known as Hancock Shaker Village continues its life today as a history museum with 20 authentic buildings, a working farm and significant collections of Shaker furniture and artifacts.”
I enjoyed this village more than the one in Bowling Green, Kentucky because it felt more alive to me! The event for the month was the “History of Baby Animals” so there were many families with young children. This was definitely a place I would want to bring our (young) grandsons.
Bill preferred the other one because we were first shown an informational movie. There were only a handful of others there so it was more “peaceful.” Also, the few Docents working were able to answer all of our questions and provide us with lots of information. Bill also didn’t see any references here to the fact, we were told upfront at the other Village, the Shakers in essence became extinct because of their vows of celibacy. He also thought we were better informed there about their religious practices. Did you know they were called Shakers because in their worship of God, they “shook” in their fervor?
In preparing for this blog post, I found this YouTube video about the Hancock Shaker Village which actually shows the beauty and explains the more about the village:
A Registered National and Historic Landmark and such a beautiful “farm”
We enjoyed our time here as it was a beautiful day and we managed to get in enough miles. Although we did not go visit a physical church, we watched our home church service on-line before we came. Had we come earlier, we probably would have included a hike up Shaker Mountain, but we returned another day for that hike. Which was more challenging than we expected.
Here are a few more pictures of things I didn’t see or notice in the YouTube video:
Oh my, I almost forgot to show my favorite animal on the farm. I was just fascinated and wished I had taken a video. But at least I have this remnant:
Some final thoughts before we move to our next blog post. This farm is sustainable and there are many lessons to learn here about farming. One important lesson for farmers is how this farm used solar energy 200 years ago! And as technology advanced, this farm has become part of a Community Shared Solar Retail enterprise. I found interesting details from an article on this website “Village: Powered by the Sun for Over 200 Years:”
Throughout the Village there are many examples of ways in which the Shakers efficiently used what today we would call “green” or “sustainable” building and architectural features, and “renewable” or “alternative” energy.”
“Borrowed light” in the Brick Dwelling (1830)
Windows placed on interior south-facing walls bring sunlight further into building, reducing the need for artificial lighting (minimizing the use of candles, oil lamps, and electricity). In addition, interior windows ensure better ventilation. Also note the woodstove placement at the center of the room and the long stove pipe; both provide more efficient heating.
ca. 1930s Collection of Hancock Shaker Village #1986-1320
Passive solar gain in the Brick Poultry House (1878)
The large number of south-facing windows provided heat and light in winter, keeping the Shakers’ chickens healthy, and increasing egg production. The amount of passive solar energy gained from these windows during the winter heating season is equivalent to 6 barrels (252 gallons) of oil.
ca. 1915-1920 Collection of Hancock Shaker Village #1995-5821, album p. 12
What is even better, the Solar Retail Enterprise provides another source of income to preserve this farm, museum and educational entities. Visit this article and website for more details, Hancock Shaker Village Getting Greener.
This makes me want to move to a Solar Farm! What a great way to provide electricity for personal use while providing electricity for near by homes/communities. Now to figure out how to grow our own gardens and care for the chickens, eggs and protect them from wildlife. I’m not sure about the pig, though. Something about him that just didn’t sit right….Oh well, back to my dream!
Up next a few hikes and a tour of a mansion. More history to learn.
God made two big lights, the larger to take charge of Day, The smaller to be in charge of Night; and he made the stars. God placed them in the heavenly sky to light up Earth And oversee Day and Night, to separate light and dark. God saw that it was good. It was evening, it was morning— Day Four.”
Genesis 1:16-19 MSG
(Warning, picture slide show overload!)
Since our last two hiking trips in Missouri, Bill has wanted to go to the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts. But we had to wait for a few issues to be taken care of and for the weather to warm up. Finally, everything came together in April. As a bonus, we were able to fit a week in Vermont first, then to the Berkshires the following week.
Here is a quick recap of our week in Wilmington, Vermont, with the details in two blog posts:
The week of April 16-23, 2022
April 16 Arrived but first took a tour of the Visitor Center Bennington VT
April 17 Easter Service, snow, Hoot toot whistle trail (hiked 4.6 miles)
April 18 Haystack Mt. (Hiked 4.1 miles)
April 19 Day off hiking so drove to NH for groceries
April 20 West Lake Trail (Hiked 6.2 miles)
April 21 Catamount Cross Country Ski Trail (Hiked 3.3 miles)
April 22 Toured Hildene Mansion
April 23 Drove to Pittsfield, MA
On April 16, 2022, we arrived in Wilmington, Vermont with no expectations. Bill only had a few days to book the week but thought it might work out. It was also Easter weekend so thankfully, there were openings. After all, this is the cold north so, unlike other “warmer” locations we tried, there was availability. I trusted my Travel Guide, my husband, on this one. Thankfully, he exceeded ANY expectations I could have had!
We stayed in the historic Crafts Inn, 10 West Main St., Wilmington, Vermont. From the informative website:
A little history about The Crafts Inn
The Crafts Inn, along with Memorial Hall (which is next door), were designed by architects, Mead, McKim & White, with the New York firm of Stanford White. White was considered one of the preeminent architects of his time. The architectural designing of the Inn and Hall was started in 1898, Memorial Hall was opened mid-December 1902 in time to have Christmas celebrations for the town, and Craft’s Inn was opened on February 10, 1903 by Major F. W. Childs and was called ‘Childs Tavern’ at that time. The hotel was built more as a resort for visitors who would be staying for an extended period, as opposed to other accommodations in the area, designed largely for travelers passing through. A lot of people would come up from the city. The men would send their families up for a long-term stay, maybe for a month during the summer. It was a very popular place back then….”
A few pictures inside and outside:
The best feature of not only the Inn, but the town, was the relaxing environment. From my first phone call to the Inn about two hours before our check-in, until we checked out and drove away, we were impressed. The staff was second to none. All were very friendly and wanted to make sure our stay was the best.
About the only thing we could complain about this week was the unpredictable weather! Friends and family thought we were a bit crazy to head so far north in mid-April. BUT I did check the weather forecast and there was absolutely NO snow predicted. I should have taken a picture of a sign that indicated the snow season was over on April 15. Remember, we arrived on April 16. We had a nice snow shower Sunday afternoon but it didn’t stick. But as everyone in Vermont knows, you can never take the weather for granted! Monday, warnings were issued, between 5 – 8″ of snow was coming Tuesday evening! But I am ahead of our week in Vermont.
April 17, 2022, Sunday was Easter so of course, we had to find a church. No problem, there was a precious young fellowship around the corner, in a historic church building. We found such a wonderful body of believers and heard an outstanding message for this most Holy of our holidays. While it was hard to not be with any of our family members, I told them, I felt like we were with long-lost relatives – after all, we really are family!
After church and eating, it was time to get acclimated to the terrain. We were surprised it began to snow as we headed out. Seriously! Bill said we’ll just stay out as long as we don’t get cold. It was only a five-minute walk from the Craft Inn.
Here is a slide show of the rest of our first exciting Vermont hike:
This was an excellent trail! It was well marked and had plenty of beauty along the way. It had rained a lot the day before and then the wintery mix as we started. So there were some soggy and slippery areas. We decided to walk back via a hard-packed gravel road in the interest of time. Why not go enjoy the hot tub and sauna?
April 18, 2022, we decided to drive to Brattleboro to pick up some provisions. While it was only 23 miles from destination to destination, it was predicted to take nearly 40 minutes! Oh well, it was a very windy and cold day, at least it was warm in the car. The weather forecast said 5-8 inches of snow overnight. On the way, we saw a Sam’s Outdoor Outfitters. Bill’s favorite hiking shoes are no longer made (so we thought) so he’s looking for a replacement. We tried to park nearby to shop there but no convenient parking places close by. So we skipped it and ended up in New Hampshire. Bill knew that was where we were going. I didn’t see a welcome sign but could sense a bit of difference in attitude as we grocery shopped. That’s when Bill told me we were now in New Hampshire. Interesting!
April 19, 2022, the weather was perfect for a great hike! And guess what, we only got about an inch of snow, not the 5 – 8″ predicted. It melted as the sun began to shine. We had so many places to choose from that, using All Trails, we decided to stay close to Wilmington. The gas prices are just ridiculous so why not stay close to our Inn? We picked a four-mile hike with great views. We had no idea what we were in for as we are “out of practice.” We didn’t look closely at the elevation! Thankfully, our only complaint was the last 3/10th mile to the summit. Due to the snow, only three visible markers didn’t seem to be doing the job. Fortunately, a local hiker came by and agreed to blaze the way for us! She ended up taking a picture of us at the summit.
4/20/2022 We were not sure if I could hike when we planned this trip. My orthopedic surgeon said it’s just arthritis, which comes and goes. So far so good, so next we went on the West Lake Trail, 5.9 mile out and back and the elevation wasn’t apparent. When will we learn? But we have to remember, we are in the mountains. Also, prefer loops when that is an option. Still, this looked inviting because it was considered moderate. To us, surprisingly, this ended up being one of the best hikes we’ve ever been on! And probably not for reasons others would agree. It just threw everything at us as hikers! Here is a slide show:
It was interesting to talk to a new owner around “West Lake” which is really called the Lake Raponda. She and her husband actually just purchased the land, which borders part of the trail. They are from Boston, Massachusetts, and will build a summer home on the lot. She was just in town to check it out! She explained the closest place for us to sit and enjoy a refreshment was on the other side of the lake, a bit too far at this point. So we made our own picnic area on a fallen tree. I didn’t take a picture but we could see the lake enough to enjoy our reward!
4/21/2022 Our last hike in Vermont was the Catamount Cross Country Ski Trail. It sounded moderate. But the melting snow made the trail a mess. We had an alternative trail where we parked, near the trailhead. We took the packed gravel road alongside the creek. At the end of this trail, we hiked and walked at least 25 miles. So our next day will be a scenic drive to a historic location.
I am out of downloading and uploading energy. So I will save that drive and what is now one of our favorite tours for the next post! All I can say is, can anything top this week? Stay tuned!
Let the rivers clap their hands,
let the mountains sing together for joy” Psalm 98:8
As I started writing this, we finished our second week of hiking and sightseeing in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. These have been two AMAZING weeks. We had no idea if I could hike – I could – nor how the weather would be. We only had one unexpected snowstorm. Thankfully, we brought all of our cold-weather clothing, gloves, hats, etc.
We enjoy history as much as we enjoy hiking. We found a perfect balance in both locations. It’s a good thing I’ve had to rest my knees a bit. If not, we would have missed out on some great sights and history lessons.Read more: Celebrations Continue: Easter, Anniversary, and Hiking! Part 2 (last one)
For me, the Lincoln Family Summer Home, called Hildene near Manchester, Vermont is now one of my all time favorite historical homes! When Bill first mentioned it for a “day off of hiking” something didn’t make sense. I didn’t recall any mention of a Lincoln summer home in Vermont. Lincoln’s Presidential Library is still one of my favorite museums. Sadly, we visited it when I wasn’t blogging about our travels so no pictures or written memories. Other than how it was so well done but …. Hang on
A few years later, we toured Mary Todd Lincoln’s childhood home in the heart of Lexington, Kentucky. We have a blog post about that visit. Click here to to learn more about her early life. She had a sad childhood, then lost all her children but her eldest son, Robert. I can’t imagine her distress and pain over those losses. It is even harder to imagine how horrific it was for her beloved husband to be shot while watching a play, only to die the next morning. Apparently, all this heartache caught up with her as she eventually was placed in a sanitarium.
Robert was Abraham and Mary’s only child to survive to maturity. An ugly side portrayed at Mary’s home/museum was Robert’s relationship with his widowed mother. No wonder. He had her committed to Bellevue Place Sanitarium in 1875. Needless to say, it did not make me want to see HIS summer home, Hildene. But I read a little bit about it, so since it was not a day to hike, why not? It was a beautiful day to drive. While writing this blog post, I found a wonderful article about the reconciliation of Robert and his mother. It gave more background which was fairly presented. Click here to read more.
As an aside, someone on a hiking trail recommended this “Relive” app so decided to try it on our drive through the Green Mountains. Let me know if you can see our drive from Wilmington to Manchester. I’ve recorded a few more of some of our hikes. Practice makes perfect and I need more practice!
A bit about Robert Todd Lincoln’s summer home from the Hildene website:
Hildene is formed from two old English words: “Hil” meaning “hill” and “dene” meaning “valley with stream.” Robert and his wife Mary gave their Vermont home this name because it is perched on a hill overlooking the Taconic Mountains to the west, the Green Mountains to the east, and the Battenkill river flowing through the great Battenkill Valley below….
Hildene is rooted in Abraham Lincoln’s values, making them our own and relevant to the 21st century.”Hildene Website
I found another site and like it and its description. Plus it has fabulous pictures of the flowers:
Hildene is considered the most significant Lincoln site outside of Illinois. Situated in Manchester, Vermont, it is the site where the Lincoln family lived from 1905 to 1975. Built by Robert Lincoln, the oldest child of President Abraham Lincoln, the 412-acre estate consists of the mansion, formal gardens, “Sunbeam” (a 1903 Pullman Palace Car), a goat dairy, Dene farm, and miles of trails for hiking and snowshoeing. The site’s unique aspect is that the Hildene Foundation, which preserves the property, has transformed Lincoln’s values of integrity, perseverance, and civic responsibility into actions: sustainability, preservation, conservation, and education, all of which you can experience when you visit.
We arrived too late for the only guided tour of the day, at 11:00. But, a very knowledgeable docent was available. He gave us lots of valuable insight. This beautiful 8,000 square foot 24-room is a Georgian Revival mansion. Three generations of Lincoln’s lived in the house, from 1905 until 1975. The mansion was built with electricity, telephone connections, and a hot air heating system. About 90% of the furnishings were original.
While it was supposed to be “just a summer” home, Robert Lincoln was said to spend about 80% of the year here. Robert died in the home in 1926. His wife maintained the home until her death in 1938. Upon her death, her daughter, Mary (Peggy) Lincoln Beckwith inherited the home. She lived there until her death in 1975. She and her brother, Robert Lincoln Beckwith spent considerable time there as children. Neither one had children so upon their deaths, the family lineage of Abraham Lincoln ceased. Allegedly. Hang on again. I seem to learn more when researching the places we visit afterward to verify my memory and add more facts – to write-ups such as this one.
I uncovered information I had not heard before. First, the research helped me correctly remember the story of the condition of the mansion in 1978 when the Hildene Foundation took ownership. These days, my memory is only good for about 20 seconds. What I uncovered was even more fascinating than I hoped. I’ll have to save some of this for a future visit to another Lincoln memorial. But here is what I found to substantiate what the Docent said about what a mess the house was in when it was finally taken over by the Hildene Foundation:
Peggy Beckwith moved to Hildene after her mother’s death and stayed there for the rest of her life. She spent her days golfing, dabbling in oil painting, sculpting, photography, and chain-smoking cigars. Because she tended to dress in knickers and men’s shirts, rumors spread about Peggy’s sexual orientation. No one knows for certain whether the rumors were true, but it is certain that growing the Lincoln family tree was not in her plans. She never married and never had children.
Housekeeping wasn’t in her plans, either. When she died in 1975, the mansion was in disrepair and was overrun with animals, including raccoons. ‘She’s an odd one,’ said Lincoln scholar Ralph G. Newman at the time. ‘I would call her an eccentric recluse. She doesn’t give a @#*! about Abraham Lincoln, and she’s rebuffed any attempts by historians to interview her or look for family papers on the farm.'”https://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2015/09/the-story-of-honest-abes-family-tree/
I found a few favorable facts about Peggy. She was a pilot and owned several planes. She had a runway added to the property but I couldn’t find anything to substantiate that claim. I do want to get this posted as I still have to write up our week in Massachusetts, but I could keep digging up and reading about this family! But the other important detail in the article quoted above is there is an heir-apparent still living today. I believe more Lincoln historians are ignoring it but the fact of the matter is a 17-year-old (Timothy Lincoln Beckwith born in 1968) was able to claim part of the inheritance left by Robert Todd Lincoln. Hopefully, one day I will be able to write more.
This 24-room Georgian revival mansion has been perfectly restored. But yet, it is the sad legacy of one of our greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln, who was not appreciated by his children and subsequent heirs. But yet, his legacy is living on in the museum, mansions, and humble sites pertaining to his life. A few pictures I took downstairs inside of this amazing Mansion:
My favorite part of the house was an exhibition room dedicated to the legacy of Abraham Lincoln. Around the room were numbered excerpts from Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, delivered on March 4th, 1865 during the fourth year of the Civil War.
I typed up the quotes with their corresponding “numbers” as they went around the room. Several were my favorites so you will see additional information and pictures. First, the entrance way.
On March 4, 1865, only 41 days before his assassination, President Abraham Lincoln took the oath of office for the second time. Lincoln’s second inaugural address previewed his plans for healing a once-divided nation.”www.nps.gov/linc/learn/historyculture/lincoln-second-inaugural.htm
The below numbered quotes, 1 – 13 were from displays around the room, dedicated to Lincoln’s second inaugural address. I took pictures of each display, so they typed them up and inserted them. So any errors, are mine! I only included a few pictures of the displays with the quotes plus a few other displays worthy of inclusion. Actually, the ENTIRE room is worth viewing! We encourage others to go and visit this historic mansion.
One quote under #4 below was also on display and is so noted. Number 9’s full quote is under the slide show as it deserves more room. Click here to read and listen to the short and entire Inaugural address.
- “At this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office, there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement, somewhat in detail, of a course to be pursued, seemed fitting and proper.” Abraham Lincoln
- “Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention, and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented.” Abraham Lincoln
- “The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself; and it is, I trust reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.”
- “On the occasion corresponding to this for years, all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending war. All dreaded it… All sought to avert it.” Abraham Lincoln “I worked night and day for twelve to prevent the war, but I could not. The North was mad and blind, would not let us govern ourselves, and so the war came.” Jefferson Davis
- “While the inaugural address is being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war… Seeking to dissolve the union, and divide effects, by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nations survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And the war came.” Abraham Lincoln
- “One eight of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest.” Abraham Lincoln
- “All knew that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union, even by war; while the government claimed no right to do more than restrict the territorial enlargement of it.” Abraham Lincoln
- “Neither party expected for the war, the magnitude, or the duration, which it had already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier Tryon, and a result less fundamental and astounding.” Abraham Lincoln
- “Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged.” Abraham Lincoln
- “The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes ‘Woe unto the world because of offenses! For it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh!’” Abraham Lincoln
- “If we shall suppose that American Slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove and that He gives to both the North and South, this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a Living God always ascribe to Him?” Abraham Lincoln
- “Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toils shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether.’” Abraham Lincoln
- “With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.” Abraham Lincoln
I found the rest of the statement from Number 9, so worthy to get the complete quote:
Each (party) looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces…(but) the prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes.”Hildene House Lincoln Room
The Docent was outstanding. Apparently for the price of admission, if you miss the guided our Docents are available and await your questions. I wish I had recorded all he said, but I thought I would remember the important tidbits. But hopefully, this blog has captured the essence of this beautiful mansion and the legacy behind its creation.
After we spent an hour or more inside, we went outside to see the garden and the views in the back.
After admiring the view, we went back through the welcome center. We made a few purchases to take back to our neighbors. They are watering our flowers! Everything for sale was “local” merchandise. We could have spent a fortune there.
Next, we went and put on more warm weather gear and walked to the Pullman. We had actually wanted to walk around on the hiking trail. But we were running out of daylight. No way Bill would drive in the mountains in the dark! We were greeted by another Docent. He was so knowledgeable. He impressed me but Bill questioned some of his “historical” facts. There may have been a slant but I did fact check what I could remember and the facts were true.
Preamble to the US Constitution, also on display:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed….”https://www.freedomworks.org/content/we-hold-these-truths-be-self-evident…
We end on a patriotic note. And all GLORY to God!
Next up, is our week in the Berkshires, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.