Bennington Battle Monument

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It would be tough to miss Bennington’s biggest tourist attraction.  The Bennington Battle Monument is a surprising sight in a land where church steeples are often the only tall, pointed objects on the horizon.

You’ll start seeing it around the time you cross the state line from New York into Vermont on Route 9.

The Bennington Battle Monument is the tallest structure in Vermont.  It’s 306 feet tall (93 meters), and you can visit an observation deck about 2/3 the way up.

Fortunately, you don’t have to take the stairs.  You aren’t even given that option.  There’s an elevator in the middle of the monument that whisks visitors to the viewpoint.  Beyond the observation deck, the monument is too narrow for an elevator — instead, there’s a ladder that runs the rest of the way to the top.  But of course, it’s off-limits to the public.

The Bennington Battle Monument is about 10 miles away from the battlefield where its namesake battle occurred.  On August 16, 1777, 2,000 American men defeated British Army General John Burgoyne.  It was a significant win, because it severely depleted Burgoyne’s human and material resources.  Vermont still celebrates the day as a state holiday.

 Burgoyne would surrender two months later at Saratoga. That’s when the Americans captured, among other things, his cooking kettle.  It now hangs in the base of the Bennington Battle Monument.

Once you’ve ascended to the viewing platform…

… you have a choice of looking in four directions, through the tower’s long, narrow windows.  This must be the view looking west, since I was visiting in the morning.

The view south reveals some of Old Bennington, including the Old First Church, home to Robert Frost’s grave.  You can’t see much of Bennington, since it’s southeast of the tower.

The view north gives you a nice look at the Green Mountains, Vermont’s backbone.  For the rest of Day 2, our route skirts the eastern side of these hills.

It’s incredibly easy to find the Bennington Battle Monument, but I took several wrong turns and made a huge, unnecessary detour.  The easiest way to find it is: from the Old First Church in Old Bennington, take Monument Avenue north.  Monument Avenue is the small road that runs directly in front of the church.  Just follow it, across Route 9, then 3/10 of a mile, and you’re there. 
I spent a good deal of time in Old Bennington, but I didn’t stop in Bennington — the larger town that’s just a mile away.  The problem was traffic.  Downtown Bennington was so congested, it took a long time just to squeeze through.  Finding a parking spot would have been nearly impossible. (I was, after all, visiting the town on one of the busiest weekends of the year, at the peak of leaf-peeping season.)  And, I was already starting to be conscious of the passing of time, on a day when I had a lot of ground to cover.

Drivelapse Video

So please, watch the Drivelapse video, and take a good look at downtown Bennington as I drive through town, and then continue east on Route 9, the Molly Stark Trail, to Wilmington and Route 100:

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