June 13, 2024
Montpelier, US 72 F

Haunted Vermont, Folklore & much more…

Shelburne Museum – A Vermont Treasure and Experience

shelburne museum round barn

Shelburne Museum is probably the number one “must-see” attraction in the State of Vermont. Over the past decades, school field trips from all around the area have journeyed to this wonderful museum. The S. S. Ticonderoga and the adjacent Colchester Reef lighthouse are easily two of the most impressive attractions.

Horsehoe Barn Shelburne Museum

The lighthouse was built in 1871, dismantled and moved to the Shelburne Museum in 1952. The steamship S.S. Ticonderoga is a fully restored, side-wheel passenger steamer built in 1906 and moved to the Shelburne Museum grounds in 1955. When visiting the museum, you can buy a DVD or tape that shows the Ticonderoga's remarkable final journey from Lake Champlain to it's present location.

When Barns Fly?

The Round Barn Shelburne VT

Shelburne Museum’s round barn greets visitors the moment they arrive. However, most people have no idea that the enormous, round barn was actually moved there by helicopter in 1985-86. It was built in 1901 by Fred “Silo” Quimby, over 80 miles away in Passumpsic, Vermont. The three story barn is 60 feet tall and 80 feet in diameter. Imagine the site of such as huge structure carried by skycrane helicopter over the hills and valleys of Vermont.

However, the story is not entirely true, despite the fact that many people believe and will stubbornly attest to the fact that they did indeed, see a barn flying over the Green Mountains of Vermont. What they actually saw was just the barn’s silo, which was the round core of the barn. A remarkable feat in itself but not nearly as grandiose as some believe!

A Haunted House at Shelburne Museum?

The Shelburne Museum even has a resident ghost hiding out at the Dutton House. Supposedly. The Dutton House is a historic building originally constructed in 1782 in Cavendish, Vermont before being relocated to the museum grounds, but it seems to be presented primarily as an example of period New England architecture and design rather than a paranormal attraction.

One of the museum's main attractions is the S.S. Ticonderoga, which started her career in 1906 in the shipyards at Shelburne Harbor on Lake Champlain. For 47 years, this steel hulled side wheeler cruised the length and breadth of Lake Champlain carrying passengers, freight and even the automobiles which, in the end, did so much to bring about her forced retirement.

ss ticonderoga shelburne vt

By 1950, the aging steamboat was no longer a paying proposition and seemed destined to be broken up for its value as scrap metal. If it had not been for the vigorous action of a citizens' committee, led by Ralph Nading Hill of Burlington, the “Ti” would, today, be just a memory.

Under the auspices of the Burlington Junior Chamber of Commerce and later, the Shelburne Museum, the “Ti” remained afloat four more years as a tourist vessel. But the problems of maintaining the old boat through autumn hurricanes and winter snow and ice, of cleaning, repairing and licensing the ancient boilers, and of finding trained crewmen, proved a losing battle. The decision to move the “Ti” to the Shelburne Museum's grounds seemed the best way to avert disaster and to preserve the boat for future generations.

The Shelburne Depot Railroad Station was built in 1890, by Dr. W. Seward Webb, then President of the Rutland Railroad and is complete in every detail. Passenger service to the community was discontinued in 1953, and the station was moved to the Museum six years later.

The station exhibits a station master's office, waiting rooms for men and women, telegraphy systems, maps, and other late 19th- and early 20th-century railroad memorabilia. The station was a gift of Mr. Vanderbilt Webb and Mr. Cyril Jones to the Shelburne Museum.

Displayed inside are excursion broadsides and bills of lading as well as a remarkable collection of photographs. Railroad manuals and yearbooks sit idly by as outside, the Baldwin engine #220, her boiler stilled forever, waits for the engineer who will never guide her throttle again. The railroad station and the train itself are just a couple of the museum's highlights and enjoyed by all who visit the grounds.

Colchester Lighthouse

The Colchester Reef Lighthouse. Three miles off Allen Point, southernmost tip of Grande Isle, and just under one mile of Colchester Point, lies one of the most treacherous reefs in Lake Champlain. Here in 1871 the Lighthouse Service erected a frame structure strong enough to withstand the the sudden gales of spring and fall and the pressure of the winter ice floes. For 62 years, eleven different keepers kept the light going until the lighthouse was decommissioned in 1933. Electricity had, at last, reached Colchester Reef.

Tuckaway Vermont General Store Shelburne

The Tuckaway General Store and Apothecary Shop

A handsome Greek revival example from nearby Shelburne Center, this building for years served as the village post office. Today, you can visit the historic general store in all of it's past glory, a moment in history preserved for future generations to enjoy, within the grounds of the museum. In 1952, it traveled 1/4 mile over a specially laid railroad track to be pressed into service as the Museum's General Store. Typically a multiple use building, the store includes a barber shop, post office, tap room, doctor's and dentist's offices and an Apothecary Shop. With such a collection of functions it is easy to see how the general store was second only to the meeting house as a community gathering place.

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