Visit Mount Holly for Historic Charm and Outdoor Fun
August 23, 2021
The 20-mile stretch between North Clarendon and Ludlow on Route 103 winds along the rocky Mill River and meanders through the tiny unincorporated village of Cuttingsville before curving to the southeast. If not for a yellow blinking light and a couple of signs, the town of Mount Holly would be easy to pass by.
But when you turn right at the blinking light, cross the railroad tracks, and travel a couple of miles into Belmont—the heart of Mount Holly—you quickly realize that visiting this small, scenic, and lively town is time well spent.
Mount Holly, known as Jackson’s Gore until the town was officially chartered in 1792, includes the hamlets of Belmont, Tarbellville, Healdville, and Hortonville. For about a decade in the 19thcentury, Mount Holly was home to a mineral spring. It’s also where the former Chase Toy Factory operated 150 years ago.
With a population of about 1,230, Mount Holly is now known for being the hometown of Olympic snowboarding champion Hannah Teter. It’s also where you’ll find the Crowley Cheese Factory, the oldest cheese business in America.
Perhaps Mount Holly’s biggest claim to fame is the ancient woolly mammoth tusk uncovered in 1848 by a railroad construction crew. The prehistoric remains were found at an elevation of 1,415-feet in a muck basin that was carved into the bedrock. The 11,000-year-old tusk and the cast of a mammoth tooth are on exhibit at the Mount Holly Community Historical Museum’s Perkins House, which is located on the town green in Belmont.
The museum showcases an impressive collection of black-and-white photographs, a church organ, colorful quilts, clothes, toys, and furniture from local families. Outside, the front half of a historic yellow Sears Kit Cottage is perched on the back corner of the property.
-Dennis Devereux, known as the unofficial mayor Mount Holly, in front of the Mount Holly Community Historical Museum.
Just down the road is the Will White Blacksmith Shop Museum, which includes blacksmith tools, school memorabilia, a horse-drawn cutter, and historic printing press. The Blacksmith Shop Museum is previously where J. Warner Edminster made ointments and cooking aid flavors, and printed bottle labels and postcards until he died in the late 1960s.
Dennis Devereux grew up above the Belmont General Store, a business his father ran for many years. Known as the town’s unofficial mayor or simply “Mr. Mount Holly,” Devereux gives occasional historic tours at both museums, sharing his comprehensive knowledge of the town and his passion for local history.
“We’re one of the earliest towns created after Vermont became a state in 1791,” says Devereux, whose ancestors were among the town’s earliest settlers.
Visit Mount Holly: Music, Cider Days, and Local Beer
-The front half of a Sears Kit Cottage next to the museum.
For a little town, Mount Holly is an active, welcoming community. In the summer, musicians perform every Thursday evening on the town green, and an open jam session is hosted on Mondays year-round in the community center. The popular fall Cider Days event in October includes cider pressing, craft vendors, music, and food. Devereux points out that the “newer”cider press used at Cider Days is about 140 years old.
Jeb Porter, a mandolinist who can often be found performing on the town green, is a local landscaper who has built stone walls around town for decades. He and his wife moved to Belmont in 1990.
“When I first moved here, we were on the tail-end of the town’s influx of youth. My wife and I were always the youngest ones here,” says Porter. “But right now, we’re having this influx of 30- and 40-year-olds coming here with their kids. If anything, the town is becoming young again.”
Not only is Mount Holly scenic and—like many towns in Vermont— drawing new people. It’s also filled with interesting individuals, from farmers to artists to entrepreneurs.
-Dan Tilly with family in Mount Holly. (courtesy photo)
Dan Tilly, founder of Mount Holly Beer, began visiting Mount Holly as a child after his parents built a cabin in town. Tilly, a long-time homebrewer, launched Mount Holly Beer in December 2020, and self-distributes around the region to places like the Belmont General Store and the Tyson Store in Ludlow. Tilly named one of his beers, The Green Stand, after the first tavern in Mount Holly that was built by Captain Joseph Green, a returning Revolutionary War soldier who settled in the town in 1786.
“Everyone pretty much knows everyone here,” says Tilly, who lives in Belmont. “When you make the drive up here from south to north, and you get to Ludlow and then to Mount Holly, you know you’re in this special place. In the winter, it’s this magical spot that seems to get more snow than other places around here, and the town overall just has this romantic feel.”
What to Do When You Visit Mount Holly
-Lake Ninevah in the shadow of Okemo Mountain.
In the summer and fall, visitors can paddle, hike, and enjoy the town’s sweet charm and its strong sense of history. (If you’re at Okemo to ski this winter, Mount Holly is only about 15 minutes to the west.) When you visit Mount Holly, here are suggestions for activities and events you don’t want to miss.
Canoe, Kayak, or Watch Wildlife at Lake Ninevah
Across town on the northern side of Route 103 is scenic Lake Ninevah, which offers views of Okemo Mountain. One of the main attractions at the 171-acre lake is a pair of Common Loons that return each summer to nest and raise their chicks. The lake is also a gorgeous place to canoe, boat, or kayak in the summer and fall. (Vermont Fish and Wildlife boat access is located on Hastings Lane, Mount Holly; www.ninevahfoundation.org)
Join Cider Days on October 9-10, 2021
This annual fall festival features fresh-pressed cider from a 200-year-old cider press. Enjoy food, crafts, music, and more during the height of fall foliage season. Join the fun on the town green in Belmont Oct. 9-10. The event is sponsored by the Mount Holly Community Association. (www.facebook.com/mounthollycommunityassociation)
Get a History Lesson at the Mount Holly Community Historical Museum
For a small-town history museum, Mount Holly’s Perkins House and Blacksmith Shop Museum are hard to beat. The woolly mammoth tusk, church organ, photographs, clothes, toys, and furniture are at The Perkins House. The Blacksmith Shop Museum features tools, schoolhouse items, a printing press, horse-drawn cutter, and more. The museum is open Saturdays and Sundays from 2 to 4 p.m. in the summer and by appointment.(www.mounthollyvtmuseum.org)
Stop By Crowley Cheese
At Crowley Cheese,watch how people made cheese long ago. Crowley Cheese is one of a small number of historic American cheeses, as very few cheeses originated in the United States. Crowley Cheese started in Winfield Crowley’s family kitchen in 1824. The Crowley Cheese Factory, built by Winfield Crowley in 1882, is the oldest cheese business in America. Crowley learned how to make cheese from his mother, and he passed along the family recipe to his son and grandson, who continued to operate the factory until it was sold in the 1960s. A National Historic Place, Crowley Cheese is open to the public year-round. (14 Crowley Lane, Mount Holly, www.crowleycheese.com)
Hike to the Fire Tower on Okemo Mountain from Mount Holly
The Healdville Trail is a 5.8-mile round-trip, intermediate-level hike featuring quiet woodlands, wildflowers, and panoramic views from a fire tower at 3,343-feet. Views from the tower’s enclosed platform extend from the Taconic Range and Green Mountains to the Adirondacks of New York and White Mountains of New Hampshire. (Trailhead is located at 625 Station Road, Mount Holly)
–The fire tower at the summit of Okemo.