Thursday, September 03, 2015

Burlington - Big City

Burlington is the largest city in Vermont, and a delightful spot on the shores of Lake Champlain, so today we went to explore it. The Ethan Allen III took us out into the lake towards an invisible horizon, covered in haze. Lake Champlain is the largest fresh water lake, after the five Great Lakes, although it was salt water when the glaciers melted, and home to beluga whales.
For some reason, I'd always thought Vermont to be made of granite, but now I know it has all the shales, sandstones and other sedimentary rocks, tilted off the horizontal, as we've seen in other states. In fact, only that part of the state where granite is quarried for tombstones has much granite at all.
Another lake steamer, the Ticonderoga, is no longer on the lake, but is displayed on land at Shelburne Museum. Electra Havemeyer Webb (1888-1960) was a pioneering collector of American folk art and founded Shelburne Museum in 1947. The daughter of H.O. and Louisine Havemeyer, important collectors of European and Asian art, she exercised an independent eye and passion for art, artifacts, and architecture celebrating a distinctly American aesthetic. When creating the Museum she took the imaginative step of collecting 18th- and 19th-century buildings from New England and New York in which to display the Museum’s holdings, relocating 20 historic structures to Shelburne. These include houses, barns, a meeting house, a one-room schoolhouse, a lighthouse, a jail, a general store, a covered bridge, and the 220-foot steamboat Ticonderoga.
Admission is good for two days, which is important since you can't possible see everything you want to see in one trip. Whether you prefer art on a wall, or an old General Store, you can find it at Shelburne.
This is the first two-lane covered bridge we've seen in Vermont, and of course, it was moved here from some place else, like all the exhibits. The signs warn that you must not travel faster than a walking horse on the bridge or pay a $1 fine, an extravagant amount since you could book a luxury room on the Ticonderoga for $3 per night.
We haven't seen large numbers of birds while in Vermont.  At a small pond behind a house at Shelburne, we saw birds "flycatching" over the water - swooping down and back into the branches hunting for bugs. A flycatcher? A swallow? We speculated. Finally one landed in the willow tree nearby and we found them to be Cedar Waxwings, which surprised us. Normally, Waxwings are berry eaters, so this is some new behavior we didn't know about. In the morning, we will visit the Green Mountain Audubon Center, then return to Shelburne. They have an enormous circus collection along with other colonial and 19th Century buildings and furnishings. The founder reproduced her home in New York  too.
As a wealthy family in the early 1900's, the family had its own private railroad cars to travel up to the farm in Vermont during the summers, much different than the AmTrak we took a few years ago. Dick is waving to all this campaign followers as we explore this fascinating place.

No comments: