What Makes Vermont Weird?
October 15, 2020
Chad Abramovich loves to explore the weird side of Vermont. He’s passionate about photographing abandoned buildings, learning every last detail about mysterious legends, and sharing strange tales that highlight obscure places.
Abramovich, who publishes a blog, obscurevermont.com, and shares photos on his Instagram account, The Tyranny of Influence, grew up in Milton near Lake Arrowhead. He’s spent a good chunk of time over the years at his family’s camp in Wallingford in Rutland County.
“Vermont is not that perfect, and that’s what’s so interesting to me,” Abramovich says. “The weirdness and idealized views of Vermont—they’re symbiotic. And that’s what I find so fascinating about it.”
His dad inspired his love for exploration and endless curiosity of Vermont’s history and lore.
“Vermont is the last of the New England frontier. It’s sort of like an endangered place,” he says. “Historically, we’ve always kind of been isolated. We’ve always had our own unique culture up here.”
For instance, towns like Victory and Granby, located in the Northeast Kingdom, didn’t have electricity until the 1960s.
Meanwhile, the construction of the interstates opened Vermont up to the outside world, he says. In 1943, more than a decade before interstate construction began, only 9 percent of Vermont’s road surface was paved. Vermont’s highways were built from 1957 to 1978, and an 11-mile section of Interstate 93 near St. Johnsbury was completed in 1982.
Vermont Gores and Unorganized Towns
-Glastenbury, 1933 (courtesy of the UVM Landscape Change Program)
Abramovich explains that some oddities about Vermont that exist today include gores, which are pieces of land left over when surveyors plotted boundary lines between neighboring towns but couldn’t quite make them meet. At one point, Vermont was home to more than 60 gores. Today, only three remain—Buel’s Gore, Warren Gore, and Avery’s Gore.
Then there are unorganized towns, which are communities that were once towns but have since lost enough population that they have been stripped of their designation as towns. Glastenbury in Bennington County is one of those places.
Glastenbury is a mountainous area that is now almost entirely on U.S. Forest Service land. The state formally unincorporated the town in 1937, and Glastenbury is perhaps best known for being a mysterious, strange place. From unexplained disappearances to murders to sightings of a “wild man” in the forest, Glastenbury is one of Abramovich’s favorite places to research.
“At its peak, Glastenbury only drew about 290-something people. It never really prospered because of how isolated and how hard it was to make a living up there,” he says. “According to the lore that’s been passed down, even the local Native Americans avoided the area that is Glastenbury. They saw the land as a cursed place or forbidden. So, they only used the land to bury their dead. Even today, hunters will tell you it’s easy to get disoriented and lose your compass out there.”
Happy Vermont Podcast: What Makes Vermont Weird
In this episode of Happy Vermont, Abramovich talks about disappearances in Glastenbury, a ghost in Lake Arrowhead, a strange humming in Newark, and tunnels beneath Lake Willoughby.
You can find this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, and Stitcher.
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-Main photo of Glastenbury Wilderness/Flickr