Vermont is famous for many things: Fresh air, skiing, natural resources, maple syrup, hiking, the Green Mountains, and more. But did you know that Vermont was a leader in the abolitionist movement, an early champion of women’s rights, and a sovereign nation for over a decade? If not, don’t worry. Just read on as we uncover 15 fun facts about Vermont.
The University of Vermont is the state’s oldest and first school of higher education. Founded in 1791, UVM stands for the Latin words Universitas Viridis Montis, which is not surprising considering the word university is Latin itself in origin. But the real story of how Vermont got its name probably started long before that when Samuel de Champlain and his entourage sailed from Quebec to Lake Champlain (which he named for himself) in July 1609. Along the way, he and his crew witnessed many lush green forests. When they came to the Green Mountains, since they were French explorers, the area was described as “Verd Mont” or “green mountain.”
For such a small state, Vermont has had its share of standouts. Some of the most notable names are as follows: Chester Alan Arthur, U.S. President, Calvin Coolidge, U.S. President, Thomas Davenport, Inventor, John Deere, Inventor, John Dewey, philosopher and educator, Alexander Twilight, educator, Ethan Allen, Revolutionary War leader, and Brigham Young, religious leader. Famous artists and poets who have lived in Vermont include Robert Frost, Norman Rockwell, and Grandma Moses, among others.
In 1777, in the throes of becoming claimed as just another parcel of strategic land by the French on one side and the British on the others, Vermont passed its own Declaration of Independence and effectively became its own nation for 14 years. During that time, it formed its own militia, made its own road, farmed its own food, and, to all accounts, thrived on its own until it joined the Union as the 14th state in 1791.
Led by Ethan Allen, the Green Mountain Boys were key to protecting Vermont borders and interests while it was a republic. With no formal training, their fighting tactics were so effective that, later on, the entire militia was recruited into the Northern Army and fought for independence in the Revolutionary War.
Believe it or not, Lake Champlain hides away in its murky depths its very own Loch Ness Monster, or at least that is what hundreds of eyewitness accounts and blurry photographs suggest. No one has been able to provide indisputable evidence, but Vermont’s Single A Major League Baseball team is named the Lake Monsters, the Abenaki (a Vermont Native American tribe local to the lake area) had a word in their vocabulary specifically for a large lake creature, and Samuel de Champlain even recorded a sighting in his journal. The upshot is that Champ is much loved even if he is a little camera shy.
Norwich, according to its website was founded in 1819 by Captain Alden Partridge. The Captain championed a civilian education—and a liberal arts one at that—education since before the Civil War. Today, Norwich is ranked one of the top cybersecurity schools in the country. My, how time flies.
According to more than one report, a decade before the turn of the century Vermont accounted for just under 10 percent of all hops production in the U.S. Reportedly, children were even pulled from their studies to help with the hops harvest, but, after the West was won, hops farming headed to sunnier the pastures. Today, with the help of UVM, hops might be coming back to the northeast as they have been rolling out their northeast hops farming project for a little over a decade, trying to supply the demand for that bitter flower by local microbreweries.
Vermont ranks No. 1 in craft breweries per capita, with 9.4—that’s just under 60 microbreweries in the Green Mountain State. Not to let all that beer go to waste, though, Vermont also ranks first in the nation in the consumption of beer per capita. No wonder hops are at a premium!
New York transplants, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield started selling their creamy, natural ice cream in Burlington in 1978 out of a renovated gas station. Now owned by Unilever, Ben and Jerry’s is still creamy, still devoted to sustainable practices, and still made in Vermont. Ben and Jerry are retired.
With a violent crime rate and the lowest number of murders in the nation, the Green Mountain State was crowned as the “Safest State in America” in 2013.
Whether you call them mounds or reefs, these archaeological finds are old (460 million years) and very cool, literally. Rare to find so far north of the equator, these mounds are circular and elliptical in shape and can be spotted in Lake Champlain in Isle LaMotte.
While the old saying goes, “there are more cows than people in Vermont.” But, that simply isn’t true. According to an informational packet release by the state in 2013, there are about “159,000 cows and 609,000 people.” That translates to about four Vermonters per cow.
Producing 920,00 gallons in 2009, Vermont boasts more maple syrup quantities than any other state. That is to say, production jumped 30 percent which is the biggest gain on record since 1944.
It all began in the 1930s when local citizens and groups began to confront the billboard lobby, concerned with promoting the natural beauty of their state. And, in 1968, a no billboard law was passed with a five-year grandfather clause for existing signs. That law is still on the books.
This motto was adopted in 1779 as an element of Vermont’s first official seal. Historically, this makes sense as Vermont would have been a republic at the time and fighting for both freedom and unity.