When it comes to tourism, diversity delights

When it comes to tourism, diversity delights

Schaefer, Susanne E

The Eastern Vermont Gateway Regional Marketing Organization (RMO) includes 30 towns, located east-to-west between the Connecticut River and the spine of the Green Mountains and north-to-south from Route 4’s Bridgewater, Woodstock, Quechee and White River junction, to Route 302 and Wells River. The outline of the region follows the same delineation as that of the Green Mountain Economic Development Corporation and the territories of two regional planning commissions – Two Rivers-Ottauquechee RC and the western corner of Upper Valley Lake Sunapee RPC.

The towns in this region range from an emerging and exciting downtown in Whiter River junction, to the historic site of President Calvin Coolidge’s homestead, to the Route 100 corridor north along the White River to Granville, to the hill towns of Chelsea, Tunbridge, Topsham, Vershire, and Corinth – to an the towns throughout the Upper Valley of the Connecticut River from White River junction to Wells River.

These towns make for quite an exciing marketing mix, and one that visitors enjoy for its diversity of attractions – from the natural environment and outdoor recreation to many varieties of Vermont-made products, to the cultural heritage of our artisans and crafters, as well as plays, music, and story-tellers; plus the genuine agricultural experience of our many working farms scattered throughout the hillsides and valleys that present the visitor with options from dairy to natural beef products, to llama treks and sheep shearing, to Christmas trees and sugaring demonstrations.

Eastern Vermont Gateway offers visitors Vermont’s only national park, MarshBillings-Rockefeller National Historical Park in Woodstock; the New England Transportation Museum and Engine 494 in downtown White River junction; museums and cultural centers including the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, Chandler Cultural Center in Randolph, Northern Stage in White River Junction and Pentangle Council on the Arts in Woodstock – plus a plethora of local production companies in towns such as Bradford and Rochester.

We have three State Welcome Centers positioned for quick stops and information along I-89 in Sharon and I-91 in Hartford and Bradford; staffed information centers on Route 4 in Quechee, Woodstock and on the Vermont-New Hampshire border on Route 302 in Wells River; and, a State Welcome Center celebrating the region’s heritage in the same building as the transportation museum and the train station in White River junction.

Held here each year is the Annual Glory Days of the Railroad Festival, the 10th annual on September 7 this year. This is a family-oriented day-long celebration, including train rides, of railroading past, present, and future. For information, call 802-295-5036 or tnunez@hartford-vt.org.

Around the Region in the Upper Valley

Upstairs in the same building as White River junction’s train station, the State Welcome Center and the Transportation Museum, you’ll find the offices of Vital Communities. Vital Communities is a nonprofit organization dedicated to engaging citizens in community life and fostering long-term balance of well being in the region. One of Vital Communities’ three programs is Valley VitalSigns, which draws people together from all over the Upper Valley to consider and improve the quality of life for all. Encouraging a breadth of involvement, Vitalsigns invites as many perspectives as possible to participate constructively in addressing issues of interest to area citizens. VitalSigns topics currently under discussion are transportation, housing, and agriculture, including Family Farm Fest July 28 in Randolph, a celebration of the role of farming in our region. Community Profiles and Facilitation Services offers groups an opportunity to come together to find solutions to common concerns and to reach agreement on specific steps to make goals a reality. The third program, Valley Quest, is a Vital Communities Program of remarkable treasure hunts that lead to our region’s unique places. For further information about any of these programs, contact Vital Communities at info@vitalcommunities.org or 802-291-9100.

White River Junction: The Gateway to the Eastern Vermont Gateway

This village situated along the White and the Connecticut rivers’ rose to prominence in the 19th century as a transportation and distribution center. So great was that momentum that it never really slowed down until the 1980s, two decades after the arrival of interstate highways. Then it began to reinvent itself.

Today, transportation still has more than a vestigial role with daily Amtrak service between Washington, DC, and Montreal, but the reborn White River junction is much more based on hospitality and office space. Its once-dominant role as a retail center has been transformed into shops based on craftsmanship and convenience.

Office uses are beginning to fill up the warehouses and manufacturing buildings. More development is foreseen, with white-collar workers enjoying the conveniences and lifestyle of a pedestrian district.

Hence, the convenience side of retailing serves the close-in residential neighborhoods and office dwellers alike. Craftsmanship is alive in the form of destination artisans that make and sell such things as lampshades, costumes, picture frames, furniture, sculpture, and a print making studio. White River Junction is a work in progress, now reveling in its 19th-century buildings, natural beauty and pedestrian scale.

Beyond that, location is still its forte as it continues to be the gateway to the Eastern Vermont Gateway Region.

Copyright Boutin-McQuiston, Inc. Jul 01, 2002

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