Fairlee, VT, is a small village set in a bend of the Connecticut overlooked by the Palisades, a set of cliffs beyond which nestles Lake Morey, ringed by summer camps, vacation homes, and the Lake Morey Inn.
Across the river in Orford, NH, are the seven stately homes of the Orford Ridge, built from 1773 to 1838, which have been called the finest group of Federal-style houses in the United States. Among their owners was Samuel Morey, who ran a steamboat on the river here in 1793, eighteen years before Robert Fulton took credit for the invention on the Hudson River. Recreational boating is still popular in this quiet stretch of the river lush with some of the finest agricultural lands in the entire Connecticut River Valley.
Nature & Scenery
The cliffs above Fairlee are a striking view in themselves, but the careful watcher may be rewarded by the sight of a swift flash peregrine falcons diving from their nest on the Palisades. This is one of several Connecticut River Valley nesting sites for these birds, which are making a comeback from near extinction. Many "setbacks," where tributaries enter the main stem of the river, are excellent bird watching sites. Providing valuable waterfowl habitat, many of these wetlands have been protected by the states and the Upper Valley Land Trust in concert with the towns and private property owners. For more about birding and nature observation in the area, visit the Connecticut River Birding Trail.
Travelers in this region of the valley experience a prized and unique balance between the built and natural environment. Church-spired villages are set among farmlands and forests, hills and hollows, and through it all the river meanders from one side of the broad valley to the other.
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It was the fine floodplain soils of this area that drew the first settlers, and farming continues to be an important part of the local culture and economy. Fed on local grass, a cow named Royal Tullando Maxima set a world record for milk production, at Orford's Tullando Farm. Farm stands and nurseries are numerous along the Byway in this region, offering ornamentals, fresh corn, pumpkins, and other products in season.
Farmers Markets | Farm Stands and Pick Your Own
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One of the houses contains the primitive-realistic work of the 19th century itinerant mural painter Rufus Porter, whose work survives in several houses in the Connecticut River Valley. Porter, who also left murals in Maine and Massachusetts, was also an inventor and journalist, becoming the founding editor of "Scientific American" in 1845. Porter produced a mural in the Hinkley House, one of the Ridge Houses, just after it was built in 1824. One fresco includes a view of the Connecticut River with a steamboat that closely resembles the one constructed by Orford and Fairlee resident Samuel Morey.
In 1793, Morey ran his steamboat, "Aunt Sally," on the Connecticut River. First to use two side wheels, he received a patent, signed by George Washington, for his engine design. Lacking the finances to make his venture profitable, Morey loaned his plans to a potential investor, who showed them to Robert Fulton. Fulton based his "Clermont" on Morey's designs and ultimately received credit for inventing the steamboat when the Clermont ran up the Hudson River in 1811. Tradition has it that, upset by Fulton's success and fame, Morey sank his boat in the Fairlee lake later named after him. Morey went on to patent an internal combustion engine in 1826, advancing technology later employed in automobiles and airplanes.
A carefully-restored Gothic Revival-style house commemorates
a Vermonter who left school at the age of 15, but later opened the door to higher
education to millions of Americans. The in Strafford, VT, is
both a National Historic Landmark and Vermont state historic site. As a U.S.
Congressman and later Senator, Morrill was responsible for the acts establishing
the Land Grant Colleges, the forerunners of many state universities. He designed
and constructed the 17-room house in 1848-51, as well as gardens, barns and
outbuildings reflecting his interest in architecture and landscape. The house
is furnished with original Morrill family possessions.
A Bradford resident and contemporary of Morey's broke ground in another field. Clark James Wilson, a Bradford farmer and self-taught engraver, in the early 1800s made and sold the first geographical globes in the U.S.
The graceful steel arch Samuel Morey Bridge, linking Fairlee and Orford, was constructed in the 1930s after its covered wooden predecessor succumbed to the 1936 flood. The Morey Bridge was recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Among other historic bridges in this area are the , which spans Clay Brook in Lyme, and two covered bridges over the Ompompanoosuc River in Thetford, Sayers Bridge and Union Village Bridge.
Fairlee and the other villages in this area are among the smallest in the Byway. There is a long tradition of summer camps and seasonal homes around Lake Morey, Lake Fairlee and along the river. The Old Church Theater in nearby Bradford offers live performances.
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Following in Morey's footsteps, many people find this portion of the river excellent for boating. For boating services, Fairlee Marine is located just off the river at the south end of the village.
The Connecticut River Joint Commissions provide maps of the river that identify river access and describe other important aspects of boating on the river. In this area, these include:
The is a year-round family resort and conference center that offers golf and swimming in the warm months, and ice activities in the winter.
Down hill skiers are a short distance from the in Lyme. Snowshoeing is popular on trails throughout the region, including at nearby .
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The small wood framed depot in Fairlee, built in 1848, is the oldest surviving railroad structure along the Connecticut River. The Connecticut & Passumpsic Railroad constructed it as part of its line from White River to Woodsville and Canada. In 1889 it became part of the Boston & Maine system. The building was remodeled in 1910, but closed in 1972, the last station to stay in service between White River and Woodsville.
South of Fairlee village is another historic station in the hamlet of Ely. Now a private home, it was constructed about 1900 to offer full rail service to the local rural area as well as to house the station agent's family.
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Rt 5, 1 mile south of Exit 13, I-95, Norwich, VT.
Saturdays, May -October, 9am- 2pm. Local agricultural products, prepared foods, baked goods, handcrafts of all kinds, cheeses, meats, soaps and lotions, woolens and sheepskins, furniture. Live music most days, weather permitting. 802-649-2724
Below, you'll find listings of farmers' markets in the Fairlee waypoint region, followed by individual farm stands and farms where you can pick your own farm-fresh products. For more, visit Valley Food and Farm's searchable site.
Farmer Hodges Roadside Stand
Route 5 North, Fairlee, VT 05045
Tim & Janet Taylor
811 West Fairlee Road
(Crossroad between Lake Fairlee & Rte 113, Post Mills, VT)
Fairlee, VT 05045
May 1 - October 12
Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, vegetables, farm stand
David & Sara Pierson
587 Waits River Road (Rte. 25), Bradford, VT 05033
Mid-May - October 31
Strawberries, vegetables, soldier beans, Farm Stand, PYO
Waits River Farm
Gary & Rhonda Bicknell
10518 VT Rte 25, East Corinth, VT 05040
(9 mi west of Rte 91 on Rte 25)
August - October 31
Vegetables, pumpkins, squash, Farm Stand
Cedar Circle Farm
Kate Duesterberg and Will Allen
225 Pavillion Road (1/8 mi. south of Rtes. 5/113 jct.)
East Thetford, VT 05043
Fresh fruits and vegetables, PYO strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries; annual and perennial bedding plants
Killdeer Farm Stand
Liz & Jake Guest
Route 5, south of Norwich, VT 05055
Beginning of May - end of October
Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, organic vegetables
Brigadoon Herb Farm
Route 10 & Grimes Hill Road, Orford NH
North of the village of Orford
Guided farm tours, weed walks, teas and talks, seasonal festivals, garden consultation
Cube Mountain Farm
Bill & Kathy Baker
Baker Road, Orford NH
East of the village of Orford, off Route 25A
Handmade wreaths and arrangements, garlands, custom orders
O'Brien Tree Farm
Route 10, Orford NH
South of the village of Orford
Cut your own Christmas trees
River Valley Farm
Sherre & Pat Tullar
Route 10, Orford NH
Located just south of the village of Orford, opposite Tullando Farm
9-5 daily Mother's Day to Christmas
Annuals, perennials, hanging baskets, baked goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pumpkins, ice cream, crafts, pygmy goats to observe; Christmas trees and decorations in season
Bailey's Turkey Farm
Dan & Millie Bailey
294 Dartmouth College Highway (Route 10), Lyme, NH 03768
Fresh turkeys in season, and fresh-frozen turkey burger, parts & pieces, and turkey breast
722 River Road, Lyme NH
Located just south of the covered bridge, or 4 miles north of the Thetford/Lyme Bridge
8am-7pm daily during blueberry season (late July-early August)
Blueberries, (unsprayed) in 1,200 plant orchard near the Connecticut River and Clay Brook
Piermont Plant Pantry
143 Rt. 25, Piermont, NH 03779
dawn-dusk, April 1-October 31
Annual plants, hanging baskets, mums, vegetable plants, pansies, perennials, sweet corn, tomatoes, garden cut flowers, pick your own pumpkins, winter squash, gourds, munchkins, Indian corn, corn stalks, apples, balsam wreaths & roping
Special Events: October 29-31-Halloween Pumpkin Lighting; walk around the farm buildings, through the fields to the Halloween trails, across the bridge to the field in back of the mountain. October 22, 10am-3pm, stop in & help us carve pumpkins for the three-day display
Round Barn Shoppe
430 Rt. 10, Piermont, NH 03779
9am-5pm, Thursday-Monday, fall
Indian corn, ornamental popcorn, popcorn, winter squash & pumpkins back to top
Orford, NH THE RIDGE
Orford's seven Ridge houses were built over a period of time from 1773 to 1839 by professional and business men of the town. The Bulfinch-style house of John B. Wheeler, built in 1814-1816, southernmost in the row, was designed by a Boston architect, probably Asher Benjamin who was then an associate of Charles Bulfinch. Other Ridge houses also display Asher Benjamin influence.
Located in the center of Orford on the east side of NH 10, just opposite its junction with NH 25-A.
Bradford, VT BRADFORD: Home of Maker of First Globes
Birthplace of Adm. Clark.
Home of Maker of First Globes and Birthplace of Adm. Clark. Home of Maker of First Globes and Birthplace of Adm. Clark James Wilson, a Bradford farmer and self-taught engraver, in early 1800s made and sold the first geographical globes in the U.S. Adm. Chas. Clark, born here in 1843, was Captain of the "Oregon" which sailed around Cape Horn to defeat Spanish at Santiago Bay in 1898.
Located on U.S. Route 5, North Main Street.
Bradford, VT JAMES WILSON, GLOBE MAKER
100 yards behind this marker is the site where James Wilson had his home and workshop. Between 1808 and 1810 Wilson made and sold the first terrestrial and celestial globes in North America. Wilson was a farmer and blacksmith b. 1736 in Londonderry N.H. who moved to Bradford in 1795. He taught himself astronomy and geography, studied with Amos Doolittle in CT to learn engraving, skills he needed to make globes. Wilson died in Bradford in 1855 at the age of 92.
Located at I-91 rest area in Bradford.
Fairlee, VT SAMUEL MOREY
Pioneer Inventor of Steam and Gas Engines lived here. Samuel Morey, resident of Orford and later Fairlee, successfully operated a steamboat on the Conn. River in 1793. Making over 4,000 experiments, this early scientist patented an internal combustion engine in 1826 to anticipate the age of the motor car and airplane.
Located on U.S. Route 5, in village.
Norwich, VT ALDEN PARTRIDGE (1784-1854)
A native of Norwich, Vermont, Alden Partridge was a pioneer in American military education. Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point from 1815 to 1817, he returned here in 1819 to found the American Literary, Scientific and Military Academy, which, in 1834, became Norwich University, now located in Northfield, VT. Partridges innovative curriculum, called the American System of Education, combined military, practical, scientific and liberal instruction. The educational system established here served as a model for eighteen military academies and colleges founded throughout the United States. The Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1862 and the 1916 legislation which created the Reserve Officers Training Corps are extension of Partridges theories of education.
Located on the Green in front of bandstand.
Norwich, VT EARLY SETTLERS & ALLEN R. FOLEY
Site of a log hut where the Hutchinson and Messenger Families were the first to winter in Norwich in 1765. Erected by the Norwich Historical Society in memory of Professor Allen Rich Foley, Vermont Legislator and Historian 1898-1978.
Located on U.S. Route 10A East, near Ledyard Bridge.
Norwich, VT FIRST PUBLIC GRAMMAR SCHOOL: Located on this site.
On June 17, 1785, the Vermont General Assembly enacted a law which designated "the place for keeping a County Grammar School in and for Windsor County, shall be at the house commonly known by the name the Red Schoolhouse in Norwich," thus initiating the provision of Vermonts First Constitution for schools of secondary learning.
Located on U.S. Route 5, in the village on the lawn near the Congressional Church.
Norwich, VT THETA CHI FRATERNITY
Near this spot stood the Old South Barracks of Norwich University where, at 9:00 pm on April 10, 1856, Theta Chi Fraternity was founded by Frederick Norton Freeman and Arthur Chase.
Located on U.S. Route 5 near St. Barnabas Episcopal Church.
Strafford, VT STRAFFORD-BIRTHPLACE OF JUSTIN SMITH MORRILL
Born April 14, 1810, Senator Morrill served 43 years in the Congress. He won unique fame as author of the Morrill Acts, signed Abraham Lincoln, 1862. These established our land-grant colleges and universities, securing and broadening higher education in the U.S.
Located on Justin Morrill Highway in Strafford Village on the town common.
Strafford, VT MORRILL HOMESTEAD
Justin Smith Morrill, father of the act establishing land grant colleges, constructed this house, 1848-1851. Maintained as a life-long residence. The Homestead is registered as a National Historic Landmark.
Located at the homestead.