Cavendish fire dept.jpg

The Cavendish Fire Department’s station.

MOUNT HOLLY — Just southeast of bustling Rutland are three Vermont towns that are smaller in size but still have some interesting history to their name.

Mount Holly, Cavendish, and Plymouth straddle the boundary between Rutland and Windsor counties in Southern Vermont. If you don’t recognize the names of the towns, you might recognize the names of people they can commonly be associated with.

Seeing Vermont will take you to different Vermont towns, showcasing their scenery, buildings and people.

This week's locations: Mount Holly, Cavendish, and Plymouth

Where they’re located: Mount Holly is nestled in the southeastern corner of Rutland County while Cavendish and Plymouth are slightly to the east in Windsor County. They are all just shy of a two-hour drive from the Burlington area.

About the towns: Mount Holly includes the villages of Belmont, Bowlsville, Goodellville, Healdville, Hortonville, and Tarbellville. It is 49.6 square miles large and had a population of 1,237 according to the 2010 census. It is here that the final spike was driven into the Central Vermont Railway, connecting Burlington and Boston.

Mount Holly lays claim to being the original hometown of Olympic medal-winning snowboarder Hannah Teter and Horatio Earle, who’s known as the “Father of Good Roads” after helping create the first road made with Portland concrete. It’s home to the Crowley Cheese Company and Papa John’s Sugar Shack.

Bordering Mount Holly to the northeast is Cavendish, a town that was chartered in 1761 and had 1,367 residents counted in the 2010 census. 

Cavendish was the home of Salmon Dutton, a famous veteran of the French and Indian and Revolutionary wars, after he relocated from Massachusetts. He built what became known as the historic Dutton House, which served as an inn and tavern for the town and was later moved to the Shelburne Museum.

It was in Cavendish where, in 1848, Phineas Gage suffered an accident that became famous for contributing to scientists’ understanding of the structures and functions of the brain. Gage was a railroad foreman supervising construction of the Rutland & Burlington Railroad when he was distracted by other men working behind him. The blast he had been setting wasn’t completed properly, resulting in a 13-pound tamping iron exploding upwards, entering the bottom of his jaw, and exiting through the top of his skull.

However, Gage did not die. The rod damaged the frontal lobes of his brain, caused the loss of vision in one eye, and would lead to debilitating seizures for the rest of his life — an epileptic episode 12 years later resulted in his death. 

Witnesses were shocked to see Gage walking and talking just minutes after the accident as he proved that someone could survive an injury to the brain of that magnitude. His behavior for some time following the accident provided insight to the function of the frontal lobes of the brain as he exhibited a complete change in personality. Gage suffered severe cognitive impairment, which caused a lack of the ability to regulate emotions, extreme vulgarity and impulsivity, and the inability to manage people in a professional setting.

Chartered in 1761 and originally named Saltash until 1797, Plymouth had just 619 people in 2010, according to the US census.

Plymouth is most well known as being the birth and resting places of Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president of the United States. It was here that he took the oath of office in the early hours of Aug. 3, 1923 — just hours after President Warren G. Harding passed away. 

The Calvin Coolidge Homestead District contains his childhood home and those of his relatives, a church, and the store that Coolidge’s father used to run, which also housed the town’s post office in the 1920s. Nearby, you can also find the Plymouth Cheese Factory, a company founded by Coolidge’s father in 1890.

Here are some photos of Mount Holly, Cavendish, and Plymouth you might enjoy, courtesy of Josh Kessler, who's a native Vermonter and currently the director of athletic communications at Saint Michael's College.


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