MT. MANSFIELD, Vt.
At ‘This Place in History’, we’re on Mount Mansfield after hiking up a section of the Long Trail with Executive Director of the Vermont Historical Society Steve Perkins.
“We are here to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the building of Taft Lodge, one of the lodges all along the Long Trail. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty pooped from this hike, but it’s been a lot of fun and I hope a lot of our viewers can come up and visit. Mike DeBonis, the Executive Director of the Green Mountain Club is here to tell us about this and lodges all along the Long Trail,” began Perkins.
“It’s great to be up here on Mount Mansfield on the Long Trail. The Long Trail was started in 1910. It runs the entire length of the state of Vermont from the Canadian border down to the Massachusetts border. There are 273 miles and 60 overnight sites, and we’re at one of them. We have about 300 people that hike the Long Trail end-to-end every year and a few thousand more that do day hikes and overnight hikes,” explained DeBonis.
“The overnight sites are everything from a tent site to a three-sided shelter to what you have here which would be a lodge, four sides, bunks, windows, screens. As you get further north on the Long Trail, you tend to find more lodges. [It’s a] little bit colder further north,” added DeBonis.
“Taft Lodge is special because it is the largest and oldest structure on the Long Trail. It was built in 1920, just about 100 years ago this month. It was built to house folks that were hiking the Long Trail. Back around 1918, early Long Trail founders were trying to help people connect with the outdoors. They recommended building this lodge on Mount Mansfield.”
“The idea was that people needed to escape the cities, New York and Boston, and get away from their war worries. It’s interesting that this year we’re seeing unprecedented use of the Long Trail. The worries might be different, but the healing power of the outdoors is the same,” said DeBonis.
“[Building it] wasn’t easy. I don’t think it’d be easy today. But, back 100 years ago, there was actually a logging road. So folks took a team of horses and they dragged the logs up the mountain and they built this shelter. Elihu Taft, a really famous and well-known lawyer and judge in Burlington, funded it. And the Burlington Section, a local chapter of the Green Mountain Club, built it. It was built by volunteers. The goal was to get it done by 1920 and they got it done by September of 1920 and had it opened up for public use,” explained DeBonis.
“We’re going to celebrate the Taft Lodge anniversary on [Saturday September] 19th down at Barnes Camp at the Stowe parking lot. We’re going to have an event where we really celebrate the 100 years. It’s the oldest shelter on the Long Trail system.”
“We’re going to dedicate a plaque that will be adhered to the building celebrating its milestone, tell some good stories and then we’ll cap it off with a hike up to the lodge. Then, after a good break, we’ll tell some more stories and history about this amazing structure.”
“I think one of the great things about the Long Trail is you create your own experience. It’s been around for well over 100 years. Everyone that hikes it has a unique experience. So to be able to stay at this lodge and be part of that history, whether it’s a night or something that you do with your family, it’s really a treasure and a gift. It’s one of those things that makes Vermont’s recreation and resources special.”
“I’ve stayed here and I can’t tell you…Being here in the pouring rain, listening to the rain hit the roof it’s a very comforting feeling to have this lodge here. It’s a great resource for folks in Vermont,” concluded DeBonis.
For more information on attending the September, 19, 2020 Taft Lodge celebration, click here.
For more from our ‘This Place in History’ series, click here.
To view a map of Vermont’s roadside historic site markers, click here.