This Place in History: Ethan Allen’s Cave

Vermont Historical Society

SALISBURY, Vt.

At ‘This Place in History‘ we’re on Lake Dunmore in Salisbury, Vt. with Executive Director of the Vermont Historical Society Steve Perkins.

“We are in front of a very famous cave from from fictional Vermont history. And I say fictional, this is romance. It’s pure Vermont romance,” began Perkins.

“If we think about folks who wrote about the beginnings of Vermont and were creating these larger-than-life figures like Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys in all of its fictional glory, one of them was D.B. Thompson. One of his books was called ‘The Green Mountain Boys’.”

“What’s really awesome about this book is that the first 16 to 18 pages talk about Lake Dunmore. It talks about paddling canoes on Lake Dunmore and really gets into that romantic vision of the Green Mountain Boys avoiding British spies and Native Americans. And he describes this cave in the book as their hideout,” explains Perkins.

“So he says, ‘On reaching the shore, the party, after taking out their fish and carefully concealing their canoe in a thick clump of overhanging bushes, proceeded to their retreat, what proved to be a cavern in the rocks.’ It goes on to talk about this space and how they could cook here and be safe from marauding British spies and their Indian allies. It’s fiction. This book is fiction.”

“Now, what made this cave really grow in interest were some actions of the Daughters of the American Revolution. In 1906, and that’s what this sign says right here, it’s hard to read. Engraved into the front of the cave is a memorialization as the Green Mountain Boys cave by the Daughters of the American Revolution. 1906 is the date on that.”

“Certainly this area was being settled and as we know the Green Mountain Boys was a vigilante group that grew up under the leadership of Ethan Allen, first to push New Yorkers back off the land.”

‘There were competing land grants to what’s now Vermont. New York granted plots of land, as did New Hampshire. And they fought somewhat of a vigilante or guerilla action against the New Yorkers over time. And so that was going on in this area which brought Ethan Allen’s fame. You see that in the book here,” said Perkins.

“How was this cave found? Perhaps when the glass company was running, they needed a lot of lumber. This area was pretty much denuded of trees as they cut it down for the charcoal and the potash they needed for glass production. They very likely would have discovered this cave formation and you can just imagine how people would start to create stories around it,” concluded Perkins.

At ‘This Place in History’!

For more from our ‘This Place in History’ series, click here.

To view a map of Vermont’s roadside historic site markers, click here.

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