Mt. Tabor

When I can't sleep I do not count an endless line of sheep, but, with my mind's ear, I listen to the hum of industry in the old woolen-weaving mill which I knew in my youth...I am surprised every time that I take inventory of the many things made and invented in Vermont..." Charles Edward Crane

During my long hiatus from posting, I've been traveling abroad to teach or paint, or holed up here on the hill, working in my studio . But enough's enough! It's time to drive dirt roads, and show you, and myself, more of Vermont.

While I've been away from this blog, I've been busy with a series of paintings inspired by Mt. Tabor, a little settlement that lies along Route 7 in the southern part of the state. This crossroads of train tracks and highway, with its old feed towers, depot and storage sheds, is a very interesting place to anyone with an eye for color and composition.
But Mt. Tabor also has a story to tell us about Vermont's past. This town, like most in the area, was founded in the late 1700's by immigrants from southern New England. From the beginning, Mt. Tabor (or more properly, "Harwick", as it was originally called until changed in the early 1800's to avoid confusion with an identically named town) was probably an easy place to miss. Travelers between the busy burghs of Manchester and Rutland have never had much reason to visit this quiet community backed up against Green Mountain wilderness.

Even today it can be difficult (as with so many of the 251 towns of Vermont) to find the center of Mt. Tabor. What I know of it are a few visually intoxicating blocks between Mill and Brooklyn Roads next to Route 7. But-- is this really Mt. Tabor, or is it Danby, a larger and more prepossessing neighbor? Well, let's leave that quibbling to the tax listers, and look more closely at MY Mt. Tabor.
Instead of a steepled church or village green, the heart of this tiny Vermont community is a grain mill. First established in the early 1900's, Crosby & Sons built a reputation for offering area dairy farms top quality feed. Then, as now, heat is essential for surviving the winter in Vermont, and Crosby sold coal that was hauled in on daily trains, eventually adapting to changing times with fuel oil and pellet stoves.
Today the overgrown, deserted train station is a beautiful but sad place, looking like it could be haunted by the ghosts of prosperous farm wives heading off to Rutland to spend egg money on the latest calico. More happily, the tracks running beside the station are again in use by very slow but steady Vermont Railway freight trains.

Mt. Tabor's past, and the history of the state, and of the United States, is embodied in these buildings and this landscape. Our national prosperity was built on the foundation of three pillars: agriculture, industry, and transportation. In this tiny community's grain elevators, silos, train tracks and loading docks, some in ruins, some still in use, we can see our prosperous past, hard-working present, and, maybe, our precarious future.


  1. Can't believe you are doing all these sketches and paintings of Mt Tabor! Great place! I recently drove through on my way from N. Bennington to Rochester.I wanted to stop and sketch but it was raining cats and dogs. It hasn't changed a lot in 25 years when I visited friends on the other side of the mountain and often drove through there. Great sketches!

  2. Hi Susan,
    I really enjoy your Let Me Show You Vermont blog posts. You have a wonderful sense of color which helps to create a sense of place . I also l like your sketches very much. I have painted plein air but usually I draw outdoors. During the 1990's I used to go to Vermont in the fall usually in October.My first trip was in late September 1992 . I made these journeys, from 1992 to 1996 and also 1998 & 1999 driving a 1989 Mazda 323 hatchback, stick shift and no radio with the only option being A/C. I would drive all over Southern Vermont. I did a lot of driving for example my 1996 from start to finish totaled 985.4 miles. On my 1995 trip I drove on what I think was the Kelly Stand trail through the Green Mountain National Forest . Driving at about 10 to 20 mph in first gear I took in every inch of that beautiful forest. My trips were confined to the southern part of the state but during various visits I would go outside of my usual haunts. On one visit I ventured over to White River Junction, another time to Montpelier and yet another time I explored the Bellows Falls & Walpole NH area. I found the trees and landscape around Quiche Gorge to be more interesting than the gorge itself. On some trips I would cross over to New Hampshire. There is nothing quite like the late afternoon light in October as it strikes the lower part of the trees. One time I drove from Manchester through the mountains to Brattleboro while listening to Mozart on my tape recorder.I can still see the grey fog of that late afternoon covering the trees. Once I went to Manchester and back in one day to pick-up a painting from an exhibition. I wrote down my observations of the scene as the sun was setting. The result was a painting that is very special to me. I strongly recommend to anyone that driving from Northern New Jersey to Vermont and back in one day to do in it a car that has cruise control! I stayed at first in the Brattleboro area which is a wonderful city to explore and then for later trips Bennington, {very nice}, was my base. I never visited Mt Tabor but each visit I would go to see the Stratton Mt Arts Festival. I imagine that driving to the main lodge in winter is way different than it is in the fall. My days were spent driving around and looking at the landscape taking it all in. I have many photos,some drawings and lots of great visual memories. I found Nature to be the best artist, the magnificent palette of fall colors with just the right touch of green in places to balance it all out. The skies of Vermont are truly something special. Though I have not visited since 1999 I have returned in memory to Vermont. Someday though I hope once again to drive along its roads and highways and walk among its trees.

  3. Thanks for writing, Mary! I just had a look at your blog, and enjoyed seeing your work--Maine and Vermont certainly have a lot to offer painters...I'll have to try driving over the mountain from Mt. Tabor--I usually pass by on my way south on Route 7, and if it's not raining or snowing too heavily, stop to draw, paint or photograph.

  4. I've always loved driving by the mass of structures on rte 7 in Mt Tabor. They do seem a relic of the past, a beautiful one, as you've captured in your paintings and sketches.

  5. Thanks, Altoon. Judging from comments here, I'm not the only artist who admires this out of the way place!



  7. Yes, color can really evoke a place. Thank you for writing!

  8. My grandfather was Goodwin Crosby and I have such fond memories of the mill. Molasses for the grain mill would come by train and the smell would waft heavily around the mill yard as it was pumped from the train. When we were kids, driving down from Burlington to visit our grand parents, it would be a game to see who could spot the top of the mill first. Your work is lovely and I am glad you have images of the coal shed, I heard that it was recently torn down, which makes me very sad.
    Linda Bryan (we have met in the past either from mutual friends or the NVAA)

  9. Linda, thank you so much for writing! Such good memories...