Photo Credit: Vermont Tourism
5 Must-See Stops Along Vermont’s African-American Heritage Trail
When you think of Vermont, what are the first things that come to mind?
If you went with gorgeous foliage, maple syrup and the great outdoors, you’d be right, of course. But the deeper you dig, the more you discover just how much this small, picturesque state holds.
You may be surprised to learn that, beyond its natural beauty and cultural history, there’s a whole world that encompasses a significant piece of Black history. In fact, for one small state in New England, there’s an abundance of Black history and vibrant culture for travelers to discover.
For those especially interested in history, Vermont’s African American Heritage Trail has more than 30 sites around the state that speak to a larger, fuller history that’s often left out of textbooks. From the sites that served as refuge on the Underground Railroad to birthplaces of legendary works of art, making a few stops on the Trail could add some fascinating depth to your vacation.
Whether you’re looking to dive into some living history or discover a world of culture created by Black creatives, there are countless reasons why Vermont deserves to be at the top of your list when planning your next getaway.
What are some of the can’t-miss stops to add to your itinerary?
1. Rokeby Museum
Whether you make it a jump-off point or a significant stop on your trip, the Rokeby Museum is a must-see. From 1793 to 1961, the Rokeby house was an instrumental site in Black history. Originally a stop on the Underground Railroad for fugitive enslaved people to rest, the home belonged to the Robinsons, a Quaker family of abolitionists. What makes this museum even more exciting is that it’s one of the best-documented Underground Railroad sites in the country.
2. Clemmons Family Farm
The Clemmons family has been stewards of some of the richest storytelling and history of the African diaspora in Vermont. The family-owned, fully operational farm has been around since 1962, and it’s become a cultural hub for the Black community in Charlotte, Vermont. Stop by for the stories, the artistry and the farm-fresh treats.
3. JAG Theater Company
If you’re eager to check out some high-quality local theater, you need to make a stop at the JAG Theater Company. The all-Black company has been celebrating Black culture in Vermont for the past five years, staging productions that tell Black stories steeped in history and cultural richness.
4. Downtown Middlebury
Take a trip through Black history in the historic town of Middlebury for a day filled with a rich collection of experiences. Get a look at documents dated from slavery through abolitionist movements in the Swift-Stewart Research Center at the Henry Sheldon Museum, or explore multimedia collections at the Vermont Folklife Center, which features the audio recordings of Daisy Turner, the daughter of formerly enslaved people.
5. Historic Hildene, the Lincoln family home
Check out the summer home of Robert and Mary Lincoln, son and daughter-in-law of President Abraham Lincoln. The Hildene house hosts a wealth of cultural and historical significance. It also serves up picturesque views of the garden and local scenery while giving visitors a deeper look at some of the social issues that still carry relevance to this day. Visitors of all ages will love the goat dairy, while history buffs will love learning about the generations who lived there and about the background of the Pullman Rail Company, where Robert served as president from 1897 to 1911.
With so many landmarks and living history to dive into, it’s a necessity to include Vermont on your travel list this season. Get a deeper look at Black heritage in Vermont, and start planning the ultimate adventure.
This editorial is brought to you in partnership with Vermont Tourism.