Archaeologists think people have lived in the land we now call Vermont for about 13,000 years. Native American tribes including the Abenaki, the Mohican, the Pennacook, the Pocomtuc, and the Massachusett, have lived on the land; and members of the Abenaki tribe still live in Vermont today.
In 1609 French explorer Samuel de Champlain claimed part of the region for France. Then in 1724 the British built the first permanent European settlement and claimed the area for themselves. War broke out in 1754 between the two European powers for nine years, until Britain emerged victorious. Great Britain’s King George III folded the area into a part of New York, but in 1777, a year after the Declaration of Independence was signed, Vermont declared its own independence … from New York. Although Vermont had at first fought for the American cause in the Revolutionary War, the Green Mountain State remained separate from the United States for 14 years—meaning it had its own currency, postal service, constitution, and president—until it became the 14th state in 1791.
During the Civil War (1861-1865), Vermont would fight on the side of the Union.
WHY’S IT CALLED THAT?
Vermont’s name comes from two French words: vert, which means “green,” and mont, which means “mountain.”
The nickname honors the Green Mountain Boys, an army first created to protect Vermont’s land from New York, and which was later reconstituted to serve in the American Revolution, the Civil War, and the Spanish American War.
GEOGRAPHY AND LANDFORMS
Vermont is one of the six New England states (states whose first European settlers were Puritans from England). It’s bordered by Canada in the north, New Hampshire in the east, Massachusetts in the south, and New York in the west. Much of the state is covered in mountains and forests.
In the center of the state, the most famous range is the Green Mountains. Formed over 400 million years ago, the rocks are thought to be some of the oldest in the world. This range includes the state’s highest point, Mount Mansfield.
The rugged Northeast Highlands in the, well, northeastern part of the state and known for granite peaks divided by streams. Running north to south in the eastern part of the state, the Vermont Piedmont is the biggest geographic region. This hilly area includes the fertile Connecticut River Valley. Lots of lakes dot the Piedmont in the north.
The Taconic Mountains rise in southwestern Vermont, with high peaks, streams, and lakes. The Vermont Valley is a narrow area in the western part of the state, between the Taconic and the Green Mountains. It’s known for its rivers and valleys.
The Champlain Valley, also called the Vermont Lowland, is on the edge of Lake Champlain. In the summer, breezes that blow off the lake make the air in the fertile farming area cooler; in winter, the lake absorbs heat and warms the region.
Black bears, moose, white-tailed deer, red foxes, fishers, and martens are among Vermont’s mammals. Barred owls, ospreys, peregrine falcons, ruffed grouse, American robins, and eastern bluebirds are a few of Vermont’s winged residents.
Vermont’s reptiles include snapping turtles, common five-lined skinks, and red-bellied snakes, while Jefferson salamanders, American bullfrogs, and mudpuppies (a kind of salamander) are some of the amphibians that hop and skitter throughout the state.
Vermont’s famous maple syrup is made from sap from the sugar maple, the state tree. Other common trees include yellow birch, pine, spruce, and cedar. The Green Mountain State is also known for its wildflowers, including wild bleeding heart, bulbous buttercup, pink fairies, and sweet white violet.
About 78 percent of Vermont’s land is forest, which provides about 1.5 billion dollars’ worth of revenue for the state each year. Vermont is the largest producer of maple syrup in the United States, turning out almost two million gallons a year—that’s enough to fill about 40,000 bathtubs!
Vermont is also known for mining granite, marble, and slate—the official state rocks.
—President Calvin Coolidge, Mormon leader Brigham Young, and inventor and farm equipment leader John Deere were all born in Vermont.
—Visitors to Vermont can taste maple sugar candy, maple lollipops, even maple ice cream.
—The hiking trails and gardens of the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park inspires conservation and teaches history. Beside the park is the Billings Farm and Museum, a working dairy farm that has an 1890 farmhouse, Jersey dairy cows, draft horses, and sheep. It even offers cheese tastings!
—The Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory is in Waterbury, and it’s open for tours and tastings.
—Legend has it a lake monster named Champ lives in Lake Champlain, which sits on the border of Vermont and New York.