Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Visitor's Guide to Cavendish VT


Located on route 103, part of the Scenic Highway Route 100 By Pass, Cavendish, VT celebrates a unique way of rural New England life. When the Soviet dissident and Nobel Laureate in Literature Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn made Cavendish his home (1976-1994), he said It didn’t happen by chance. I chose this place. I dislike very much large cities with their empty and fussy lives. I like very much the simple way of life and the population here, the simplicity and the human relationship. I like the countryside, and I like the climate with the long winter and the snow, which reminds me of Russia.

With evidence of Paleo Indians dating back 11,000 years ago, the Crown Point Road, which runs through Cavendish, was a critical path during the French and Indian War. By 1761 Cavendish was incorporated as a town.

The Black River, one of Vermont’s trophy trout streams,  flows west to east through the town. The two villages of Cavendish, Proctorsville and Cavendish (formerly Duttonsville), sprang up along this river. This became the source for powering mills, factories and tanneries. Outside the villages, agriculture and associated businesses, such as cheese factories, flourished. In 1914 Proctor Piper State Forest was created and today hosts a wide variety of wildlife and recreational activities of fishing, snowmobiling, hunting, and trapping.

Because of its natural geography, Cavendish has a number of stone houses and buildings made from “snecker ashlar” construction. This technique refers to walls constructed with exterior and interior surfaces composed of mortared stone slabs arranged vertically on edge, tied together with smaller horizontal slabs called "snecks." The stones used for these buildings came from local quarries.

Cavendish has a history in its gift of sanctuary. An active participant in the anti slavery movement in the 19th century-the famous abolitionist John Brown stayed here for a week- Cavendish provided homes for former slaves. This tradition continued, with Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who remained here for 18 of the 20 years he was forced to live in exile. 

Note: Locals are still famous for their “No directions to Solzhenitsyn’s.”  Fortunately, with the help of his family and the Cavendish Historical Society, there will soon be a permanent exhibit where you will be able to learn more about his life and work.

Many know Cavendish because it was the site of the famous accident of Phineas Gage. In 1848, Gage, a foreman, was working with his crew excavating rocks in preparing the bed for the Rutland and Burlington Railroad in Cavendish. An accidental explosion of a charge he had set blew his tamping iron through his head. His accident, treatment and recovery was the first documented case of traumatic brain injury. A walking tour through Cavendish village highlights a number of points of interest relating to Gage’s story. 

Cavendish's largest industrial Cavendish's largest industrial resident is a branch of the Mack Molding company, which specializes in custom plastics molding.  Mack took one of the former mill complexes in town and has developed it into a fine modern plant while keeping the exterior of the plant well maintained and preserving the classic mill complex character.

With the arrival of the internet age, there has been a blossoming of small home-based businesses, a growing artist community and a return to small farming in Cavendish. Yet, the town is much as Solzhenitsyn found it over 35 years ago-a place to be in nature.

With a number of different places to stay, in various price ranges, you can literally walk out the door and be surrounded by state forest, beautiful vistas and centuries of history to explore. While you may come for Okemo Mountain, stay in the Valley and enjoy a relaxing way of life, filled with plenty of amenities.

Castle, The 802-226-7361, 17 Main St., Proctorsville 

Cavendish Pointe Hotel  (Clarion) 226-7688 2940 Route 103, Proctorsville 

Golden Stage Inn 226-7744 399 Depot St., Proctorsville

Castle Resort and Spa: Gourmet Restaurant offering breakfast ( 8 am-10 am) and dinner (5:30 pm-8:30 pm) Located at the junction of Routes 103 and 131. For reservations call 888-764-6836 

• Crows Bakery & Opera House Cafe Depot St., Proctorsville, open Tuesday-Sunday from 7:30 am-6pm, offers breakfast and lunch. FMI: 802-226-7007

Singleton’s Store: Sandwiches, salads and other items to go.  356 Main St. Proctorsville, Route 131.
FMI: 802-226-7666

Convenience Stores
• Mini Beez, offers gas and food to go, 1990 Main St., Cavendish 802-226-7751

Singleton’s Store Sale of  food, state liquor store, clothes and more 356 Main St. Proctorsville 226-7666

• William’s Country Store Package goods and food to go Main St. Cavendish

Calvary Assembly of God  802-226-7607 Rt 131 Proctorsville 

Cavendish Baptist Church 802-226-7131 2258 Main St. Cavendish

 • Gethsemane Episcopal 802-226-7967 Depot St. Proctorsville

• Holy Name of Mary Catholic 802-228-3451 Main St. Proctorsville

• St. James United Methodist 802-226-7819 570 Main St Proctorsville 

 Whether you want to fish, take a hike, kayak, canoe, snow shoe, cross country ski or snow mobile, Cavendish offers a variety of out door fun and activities. You can take a walk on any of the town’s backgrounds or on the sidewalks in the villages.

• Black River: Along Route 131 in Cavendish, the Black River offers some of the best trout fishing in the state. The area is designated as a Trophy Trout Stream and restricted to artificial lures of flies only. The lure preferred by Vermont trout are nymph’s, specifically dark olive or brown soft hackles. There are a number of pull offs for parking.

• Greven Field:  A walking path approximately one mile in length,  plus a portage point for canoes and kayaks for the Black River, is located at Greven Field in Proctorsville.. Plenty of parking and porta potties are on site.  The walking path follows the Black River, and is on the outskirts of a baseball field. It winds through the woods and is flat for easy walking.  There are places along the path to sit and relax, read or rest.  Directions: Heading West on Route 103, the entrance to Greven Field is on the right hand side of the road, just after Depot Street and just before the intersection of 103 and 131.

• Knapp Pond Wildlife Management Area: A 1,272 acre parcel of land, Knapp Brook contains a unique variety of wildlife habitats including vernal pools, seeps, beaver flowages, a large wetland area and two ponds created by
the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department in the late 1950’s. (Knapp Pond #1 has a handicap accessible fishing facility.) The ponds are stocked with rainbow and brook trout, and Knapp Brook contains wild brook trout. Kayaks and canoes are allowed on the ponds and many ice skate here in the winter. Directions: From the village of Cavendish, head east on route 131. Take Tarbell Hill Road, and go approximately 3 miles, Knapp Pond Rd will be on the left. Take 0.7 miles to reach the first Pond.

• Proctor Piper State Forest: Over 1,500 acres of State Forest land are located in the Cavendish area. The Forest is mostly undeveloped offering hiking, picnicking and seasonal hunting. Located in the southern midsection of Vermont, covered bridges, fishing ponds, historic sites and more are just a few miles within each other including the Hawk Mountain Wildlife Management Area, which offers an opportunity to view black bear and white-tailed deer. Directions: In the Village of Proctorsville, take Depot Street off of either Route 131 or 103. Turn onto Pratt Hill Road. This road will take you onto Forestry Road and into the State Forest.

Snowmobiling: There are a number of VAST (Vermont Association of Snow Travelers) Trails in Cavendish  as well as an active snowmobile Club, Cavendish SnowFleas.  For more information about the Club call 802-226-7476. Snowmobile rentals are also available from Snow Country Snow Mobile 802-226-7529 96 Winery Rd, Proctorsville

• Crown Point Road: Built in 1759-60, during the French and Indian War, the Crown Point Road was of great importance in the early history of Vermont. Its purpose was to connect the great stone fortress at Crown Point, then being built, with Fort No. 4, now Charlestown, New Hampshire. Parts of the road go through Cavendish and walking tours are often given by the Crown Point Road Association. Call 802-773-6819 or 802-459-2837.

• Museum & Historical Center: The Cavendish HistoricalSociety is open on Sundays from 2-4 pm from the first Sunday in June until the Sunday of Columbus Day Weekend. Events are scheduled throughout the year either at the Museum or in other parts of the community. Private tours can be arranged by calling 802-226-7807 or e-mailing

Historic Tours: The Cavendish Historical Society has three self-guided tours: Phineas Gage Walking Tour; Historic Proctorsville Walking Tour and Early Settlers Tour. Directions are available on-line. Copies are available at the Museum and at the town office.

Fibers Arts: Take a class at Six Loose Ladies, “a yarn shop with a sense of humor, or browse the shop and enjoy the work of local fiber artists. Located on Depot Street on the Proctorsville Green, the shop is open Thursday through Sunday. On Thursday hours are 10-9, Friday & Saturday 10-6 Fri and Sunday 11-5. For more information and a schedule of classes 802-226-7373,

Singleton’s General Store: A unique store that’s part museum, part curio shop, a sportsman’s paradise and a meat lover’s heaven. As one customer said, “If Singleton’s doesn’t have it, you don’t need it.” Located on route 131 in Proctorsville, the store offers food, alcohol, clothes, and a variety of household items. There is an old fashion smokehouse behind the store. Open seven days a week. Sunday-Thursday 8 am-7 pm; Friday and Saturday 8 am-9 pm. 802-226-7666

Quarry Road Studios Open seasonally. Call ahead 802-226-7331, Proctorsville , 

Spa and Salons
The Castle Hill Spa & Resort  802-226-7419, Aveda Spa and Fitness Center. On the corner of 103 and 131 in Proctorsville 

• Village Clipper 802-226-7233, Proctorsville Green 463 Main St.


Black and White Film Series: Showing old movies on the big screen at the Gethsemane Parish Hall in Proctorsville on Friday evenings. Starts in January and runs through the beginning of March. This is a free event but donations are welcome.

Sugar on Snow: In March, The Cavendish Baptist Church holds its annual Sugar-on-Snow dinner featuring ham, baked peas and many other homemade treats.

Raise the Roof Concert Series: Offering a variety of concerts at Gethsemane Episcopal Church on Depot Street in Proctorsville, starting in the fall and running through the spring. 

Town Wide Tag Sale: The last Saturday in July. All along route 131, both of the village greens and many of the back roads are alive with a wide variety of items for sale. Look for location maps at the village greens. 

Summer Music Series: Starting in July and running through August, various musical groups entertain on Wednesdays at 6:30 pm on the Proctorsville Green. Bring a picnic and a blanket or chair and enjoy this free event.

Holiday Fair: The Saturday after Thanksgiving, community organizations and the churches have a holiday fair at the Cavendish Town Elementary School located on Route 131 in the village of Proctorsville.

For other events in Cavendish and surrounding areas go to the Okemo Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Calendar of Events. 


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