West River Trail Featured in The Manchester Journal

Photo courtesy of Kris Radder, Brattleboro Reformer via the Manchester Journal.

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
– Rachel Carson

For those seeking “social distancing” the way that Henry David Thoreau described it — a silent communion with the woods — Southern Vermont offers many places for a walk, a ramble or a hike.

The West River Trail was featured in a recent Manchester Journal article by Greg Sukiennik, about places to find quiet, natural beauty in Southern Vermont. Read the Full article in the Manchester Journal. Photo courtesy of Kris Radder, Brattleboro Reformer via the Manchester Journal.

The West River Trail: The former railbed of the misbegotten West River Railroad is currently split into two trail sections, with future plans to connect them into a single 36-mile trail. The lower section stretches from The Marina in Brattleboro to the old quarry on Rice Farm Rd in Dummerston. The upper section stretches from the former South Londonderry train depot to Townshend Dam, with several parking lots along the way, and is home to the annual West River Trail Run, scheduled for June.

Enjoy the trail! Be safe, be well, and embrace nature and the outdoors.

The 7th Annual West River Trail Run

Join The Collaborative Saturday, June 1, 2019 for a beautiful run from South Londonderry, Vt. to Jamaica State Park. The route is 11 miles of fun and exciting terrain along the West River. We encourage all outdoor enthusiasts to participate individually or as a three-person relay team. There is also a 5K Fun Run with discounted registration for youth participants. All proceeds go to The Collaborative, a nonprofit providing healthy choices and activities for youth in the southern Vermont communities. For more information, call the office at 802-824-4200. For more information go to http://www.thecollaborative.us/westrivertrailrun.

Green Mountain Club Hike

West River Trail

LONDONDERRY — Join the Green Mountain Club and explore the West River Trail on Saturday, Feb.16, 2019. Participants are meeting 1 p.m. in the old railroad depot building at the corner of Rt 100 and West River Street in South Londonderry, then carpooling to the trail head. Depending on snow cover, snowshoe or hike with traction on the level railroad bed of the old West River Railroad on this northernmost part of the West River Trail. This is an easy, beginner hike. RSVP to Dale Malekoff at 802-824-5030 or dmalekoff@myfairpoint.net.

39 Steps at the South Londonderry Depot

The_39_Steps_1935_British_posterOn Tuesday, May 15, at 7 pm, the Friends of the West River Trail will present “The 39 Steps” a Hitchcock classic at the South Londonderry Depot.
Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and light refreshments will be served.
South Londonderry Depot, 34 River St., South Londonderry, VT.

Connecting Communities: The West River Trail is Expanding  

wrt spring 2013 elin waagen 4Connecting Communities: The West River Trail is Expanding: Friends of the West River Trail and The Nature Conservancy Collaborate to Grow Public Access.

The Friends of the West River Trail Inc. (FWRT) recently secured 13.7 acres of woodland in South Londonderry, Vermont, achieving strategic goals related to enhancing and expanding the existing West River Trail (WRT) – an off-road path that is popular year-round with locals and visitors of all ages and abilities.

Overall, this opportunity brings the FWRT that much closer to realizing its founding vision of completing a 36-mile scenic, multi-modal trail linking the West River Valley towns of Brattleboro, Dummerston, Newfane, Townshend, Jamaica, and South Londonderry , once connected by the West River Railroad which ran from 1880 to the1930s.

For the past 25 years, FWRT has been working in partnership with state and federal organizations including Vermont Forests, Parks and Recreation, US Army Corps of Engineers, Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, Vermont Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy, as well as private landowners, to reclaim and reconnect remnants of the original railroad bed and adjacent lands for year-round recreational use and multiple resource values.

By acquiring this particular privately owned parcel, public access to what is known as the ‘Upper Section’ of the WRT (South Londonderry to Townshend Lake ) can be improved for an even better user-experience, says Greg Meulemans, current FWRT Board President.

“We are thrilled to finally secure this piece of property for all to use in the future. With ambitious fundraising to complete the transaction, clean up the remains of an old junkyard and redevelop this parcel, FWRT can move forward to preserve the very popular northern access point to the 16-mile section of the trail. Our plan is to enhance the access to the trail and the surrounding area by creating designated parking, building an informational kiosk and developing an expanded trail network.”

The FWRT concept of “an expanded trail network” is further supported by a concurrent neighboring land transaction by which The Nature Conservancy (TNC) acquired and permanently protected 102 acres adjacent to the Winhall Brook Natural Area, already owned by the Conservancy. The collective conservation of these parcels will help safeguard the West River itself and the freshwater species that rely on it for habitat, such as American shad, American eel, brook trout, and state-threatened freshwater mussels.

“This project is a great example of protecting a stage for biodiversity while also increasing public access to a community trail that helps connect people with nature. It’s a win-win to work with great local conservation partners like Friends of the West River,” said Jon Binhammer, Director of Land Protection for The Nature Conservancy.

To donate online to the West River Trail Upper Section (credit card or PayPal), please click on the WRT DONATE page. Or, mail your gift to West River Trail (Upper Section), P.O. Box 2086, S. Londonderry, Vermont 05155

Posted on behalf of:

Greg Meulemans, The Friends of the West River Trail, 802-366-0689
Eve Frankel, The Nature Conservancy, 802.595.5000

Friends of the West River Trail
Organized in 1992, the Friends of the West River Trail Inc. (FWRT) is a 501c3 non-profit organization working to: develop and maintain a publicly accessible system of paths along the West River corridor for educational, recreational and alternative transportation purposes; promote public awareness and enjoyment of the recreational path system and of the history, geology and biota of the West River valley; and coordinate local, state and federal interests in planning, funding, construction, management and use of the trail system. Please visit: www.westrivertrail.org for trail maps, volunteer opportunities and current information.

The Nature Conservancy in Vermont is a leader in safeguarding the natural resources of the Green Mountain State. We have helped conserve over 300,000 acres of land, 1,200 miles of shoreline, and we manage and maintain 55 natural areas that are open for hiking, fishing, snowshoeing and hunting. The Vermont chapter is proud to be connecting land, water, and wildlife for over 50 years. To learn more and support our important work, please visit: www.nature.org/vermont.

The West River Trail Run

West River Trail RunSaturday, June 3, 2017, is the annual West River Trail Run, held in Londonderry & Jamaica, Vermont. A FUNdraiser to benefit The Collaborative’s long-standing programs like the Afterschool Program, Summer Camp, and Refuse To Use Program.
Click here for more info: https://runsignup.com/Race/VT/SouthLondonderry/WestRiverTrailRun

The full 11 mile trail run starts at the South Londonderry Depot and ends at Jamaica State Park. This run is great for trail running enthusiasts of all skill levels. In addition to the competitive, unofficial timed 11 mile run for individual runners, it has a 3-leg relay option, walkers’ start time and a 5K Fun Run.

The West River Trail Run course is surpack for the first 4 miles and follows the West River as you pass through Winhall Brook camp ground. Then into the woods as you watch your step with rocks, leaves and trees (oh my!), cross over Angel Falls (yes, there is water but there are rocks to step across), don’t forget to look up! Up the hill you go! Then down the gnarly switchback at Ball Mountain Dam. Almost there with 4 miles left, as the river is now to the right of you! A couple miles down the surpack in Jamaica State Park and you cross the finish to dip your feet in the river. We ask no dogs. If you would like to push a stroller, the 5K or the first leg of the race is best.

Sponsored by the Collaborative
Email: info@thecollaborative.us
Phone: (802) 824-4200
Physical & Mailing Address: 91 VT Route 11, Londonderry, Vermont 05148

American Painter Milton Avery and the West River

Milton Avery (1885–1965), Blue Trees, 1945. Oil on canvas, 28 × 36 inches. Neuberger Museum of Art, Gift of Roy R. Neuberger, Purchase College, State University of New York. © 2016 The Milton Avery Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Milton Avery (1885–1965), Blue Trees, 1945. Oil on canvas, 28 × 36 inches. Neuberger Museum of Art, Gift of Roy R. Neuberger, Purchase College, State University of New York. © 2016 The Milton Avery Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

This is the last weekend to catch the Milton Avery exhibit at the Bennington Museum.The exhibition brings together dozens of the paintings, watercolors, and drawings Avery made on family visits to the West River Valley region of Vermont between 1935 and 1943. Read more at – https://www.incollect.com/articles/green-mountain-idylls-milton-avery-s-vermont.

Excerpt from article:
A humorous anecdote related by Sally Avery about her husband’s painting Blue Trees provides insight into the tension in Avery’s works between their formal qualities, their emotive power, and their dependence on subjects drawn from the real world. She related how a business tycoon, wanting to buy a painting, made a studio visit; nothing pleased him. Looking at one landscape, he exclaimed, “That tree is blue—I never saw a blue tree in Vermont.” To which Avery replied, “This was New Hampshire.” In fact, the painting, which the tycoon acquired, was based on studies executed in Jamaica, Vermont, looking south into the West River Valley from the slopes of Ball Mountain, into the area that is now largely occupied by Jamaica State Park. https://www.incollect.com/articles/green-mountain-idylls-milton-avery-s-vermont.

Photo credit: Milton Avery (1885–1965), Blue Trees, 1945. Oil on canvas, 28 × 36 inches. Neuberger Museum of Art, Gift of Roy R. Neuberger, Purchase College, State University of New York. © 2016 The Milton Avery Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Celebrate National Trail Day

west river trail run

West River Trail Run poster

West River Trail Run featured in the Manchester Journal.

Celebrate National Trail Day by participating in the fourth annual West River Trail Run Saturday, June 4, known as 11 Miles of Trouble after the infamous 36 miles of trouble along the West River. Over 130 years ago, the trail was 36 miles of railroad from South Londonderry to Brattleboro, trouble because of its narrow gauge and winding route leading to undependable service. Luckily for trail run participants that means a moderately challenging, beautiful race through various terrain. Woods, waterfalls, and switchbacks will be seen throughout the 11 miles from South Londonderry’s Depot to Jamaica State Park.

The first 200 individuals to register will receive a t-shirt, goodie bag filled with locally donated products, and free entrance to Jamaica State Park for the day. The race begins at South Londonderry’s Depot at 9 a.m., and ends at Jamaica State Park. It is suggested that participants park their cars at Jamaica State Park and take the race bus at 7:45 a.m. to South Londonderry’s Depot. Participants are welcomed to run the full 11 miles or section the run as a three-person relay team. It is timed for competitors but open to all. New this year is the 5K fun run/walk. It will start at Jamaica State Park at 9:30 a.m. It is an out and back along the beautiful West River.

‘Eleven Miles of trouble’ article published in the The Manchester Journal on 04/04/2016 04:42:17 PM EDT.
Read more at http://www.manchesterjournal.com/community/ci_29724148/eleven-miles-trouble

Annual West River Trail Run


Registration is open for the annual West River Trail Run on Saturday June 4, 2016. Visit The Collaborative website HERE for details, trail map, trail run packet and registration information.

Walk or run along the river on the beautiful West River Trail! The run starts at the Londonderry Depot, 34 West River Street, South Londonderry, Vermont and ends at the Jamaica State Park, 48 Salmon Hole Lane, Jamaica, Vermont. New this year is a 5K fun run/walk.

Participating in this event will support The Collaborative and help provide fun, healthy educational programs for youth in the Northshire and Mountain communities of Southern Vermont.

Hallelujah the Hills! Film Screening at the South Londonderry Depot

hallelujah the hillsThe Londonderry Historical Society, The Weston Historical Society and
The Friends of the West River Trail present Hallelujah the Hills!

Please join us on Thursday, March 10, 7:00 PM at The South Londonderry Depot for a rare opportunity to see this zany, Vermont made film.
Light refreshments. Donations appreciated. Doors open at 6:30 PM

Hallelujah the Hills is a zany, indie comedy shot locally (South Londonderry) in 1963. It received accolades at film festivals (Cannes, New York) but was very rarely shown in theaters. Hallelujah the Hills (1963) was written, directed and edited by Adolfas Mekas. The picture was his first feature film.

“Two young men, Jack and Leo, are both courting the same girl. For seven long years they persist, but she finally gives herself to the ‘horrible Gideon.’ In a sense, just as this is the pretext for the film, so the courtships of Vera is a pretext for Jack and Leo to camp out together in the Vermont woods near her home, and to indulge themselves in the wildest of horseplay and high jinks. The film has a Giffithian flavor, a lyrical naivete, which is extremely touching. At the same time it is full of sophisticated film parodies – Rashomon, the New Wave, Douglas Fairbanks, Ma and Pa Kettle. In short, this is one of the most completely American films ever made, in its combination of anarchistic wackiness with a nostalgic sense of the lost frontier and (maybe they’re both the same) the magic of youth.

In 1963 after screenings in the Cannes Festival Critics’ section, the Montreal Film Festival and the Locarno festival where it won the Silver Sail, HALLELUJAH THE HILLS, Adolfas Mekas’ first feature film made its USA debut at the First New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center on September 14, 1963, at a 6:30pm screening. It received rave reviews and went on to a 15-week engagement at the Fifth Avenue Cinema in New York, and movie theatres around the country. Currently, it is available in 35mm from Anthology Film Archives and the Museum of Modern Art, where it is also available in 16mm.

“Plotless and pointless, seemingly without a care for structure or cinematic style, it is infuriatingly unconventional and wholly disarming.” The New York Times

“The funniest comedy you’ve never seen” Chicago Tribune

The New York Times Review. Newcomers Present ‘Hallelujah the Hills,’ a Vermont Farce. Published: December 17, 1963
Three months ago, a modest little Vermont-made farce called “Hallelujah the Hills” surprised and delighted patrons of the first New York Film Festival by boisterously affirming that life can be a ball and movie-making can be fun.

This festive philosophy was broached to a commercial audience for the first time yesterday at the Fifth Avenue Cinema — as close to its spiritual Greenwich Village home as current distribution policies allow. Judging from the response, it should stay there for quite a while.

For this unpretentious exercise in low-budget cinema, made by a group of newcomers with little more than a camera, a few reels of film and a lot of imagination, is the wildest and wittiest comedy of the holiday season. Plotless and pointless, seemingly without a care for structure or cinematic style, it is infuriatingly unconventional and wholly disarming.

“I haven’t seen a movie in 10 days,” mourns Marty Greenbaum from his snow-covered hilltop perch in one of his — and the film’s — infrequently sober moments. If so, he is undoubtedly the only participant who has not. Everyone else involved, from the engaging group of actors to the ingenious young writer-director, Adolfas Mekas, displays an uninhibited affection for cinema, as evidenced in a staggering series of references to other movies. Practically everything is parodied, from D. W. Griffith to Jean-Luc Godard, with Japanese subtitles to supplement a “Ugetsu”-like fireside scene and a lyrical musical score to complement the heroine’s memories of “last summer at Vermont.”

The story, such as it is, has young Mr. Greenbaum and his ebullient friend, Peter H. Bear, as friendly rivals for the hand of Vera, a lovely and enigmatic winter sprite. The role is mimed with gusto by a pair of actresses, Sheila Finn and Peggy Steffans—since Vera, it seems, is seen differently through two pairs of eyes.

If the idea sounds far-fetched, it doesn’t really matter—either to the unsuccessful suitors or to the viewer. The two young men are beatniks on a binge, and their seven-year courtship is merely an excuse for a succession of cinematic sight gags, staged with infectious gaiety by the inventive Mr. Mekas as a tribute to his mentor, Mack Sennett.

Sterner spectators may quibble that the quality of the mirth tapers off toward the end, but the anarchic spirit is hard to resist. The game’s the thing in “Hallelujah the Hills” and a fun movie about the fun of movies emerges as an outrageous lark.