Within the deep bogs and silent forests of Woodbury, along nearly impassible back roads when the weather is just right, is another world entirely. People live up here in palpable solitude. Marshes gently bleed into immortal evergreen forests that are bounded by jagged slate cliffs. The Green Mountains are the oldest mountains in the world, and Woodbury is a good look into the haunting archaic beauty and amiable stillness of the region.
It is here off one of these jarring back roads that winds around bogs and through cliff lined gulfs that two footprints stare at you on a crumbling ledge that seems to vanish into a dark forest above you. That is, if you happen to notice them. And if you do notice the fading, waist high footprints, you might become puzzled over their seemingly random existence in the middle of nowhere.
Why are they here? Who’s footprints are they? From what I know, no one really has any definite answers, but there is a local legend that works to uncover the mystery.
As what was told to me, most people who grew up in town called them The Indian Footprints, and have been there as long as anyone can remember. On both sides of the road are tall slate cliffs, and thousands of years ago, the road used to be a riverbed, and the cliffs the walls of a hungry gorge. When the water was low, you could easily cross the river, but when it was high, it rose to the top of the cliffs.
The river acted as a boundary between two rival tribes, thousands of years ago. As the story goes, in a classic Romeo and Juliet scenario, a young man and woman from the opposing clans fell in love, but their different circles forbid them to see each other. So they planned to elope secretly at the gorge. But when the woman jumped in the river to swim over and meet her lover, the water was higher and rougher than she could put up with, and the rushing currents swept her away. The man jumped in to save her, but upon doing so, broke his legs on the rock ledge and drowned in the process. Their bodies would later turn up in present day Nelson Pond, just down the road.
The tragedy brought the two fighting tribes together at the river’s edge. The two grieving chiefs decided to commemorate the tragic event, and carve the footprints of the brave man on the ledge where he suffered his fatal fall. This act symbolized the ending of a long running feud, in hopes that no one else would ever die again because of it.
The footprints have been there ever since, or as the story goes. Over the years though, weather and water have long worked on eroding the footprints, and in 1958, a local resident took it upon himself to hand chisel the footprints back into the rocks in fear of them getting lost forever.
But perhaps a greater mystery than the origin of these stone carvings is just how to find them. Making our way through the worn village of South Woodbury amidst ponds with ink black surfaces that reflected snow dusted forests – my friend’s car slid and spun its way up and down hill top dirt roads far from the safety of cell phone reception. Miraculously, with only the aid of 2 wheel drive, we made it to the right area, and with a lot of searching amongst indistinguishable evergreens and cliffs covered with moss and snow, somehow, their outlines stood out of the rock surface.
Regardless of the authenticity, standing on that back road in Woodbury with snow tumbling down on the ground was simply beautiful, and could easily inspire a love story such as this.
Not related to the Indian Footprints, but related to the area; I really dig this aesthetically prime rural town in Central Vermont. Woodbury has more lakes than any other Vermont township, and around those waterbodies are tons of rocky glacier gouged hills etched with scenic gravel back roads.
Like Chartier Hill Road, which has a barn that was built in 1903, that was also built over the road.
Woodbury’s Medevil Tower
What to do with a defunct quarry and lots of rocks? You could build something like this medieval looking cylindrical watchtower tower on the shores of Sabin Pond, located off a thin back road in a quarried depression. It even has gargoyles perched sentinel around the top rim with faces rictus with gloom.
Property owner Scott McCullough, who also fittingly owns a rock crushing business, decided to begin building the inconspicuous 24-foot cylindrical quasi-mythical structure in 2009, partially in an effort to clean up the eyesore patch of land which locals began to use as a garbage dump, and partially for something to do on weekends. But be warned – trespassers aren’t welcome. And there are several signs to make the point. But I’m told he’s a friendly fellow who is pretty enthusiastic about striking up a conversation about it. Just as long as he’s around and you have permission to be there.
To all of my amazing fans and supporters, I am truly grateful and humbled by all of the support and donations through out the years that have kept Obscure Vermont up and running.
As you all know I spend countless hours researching, writing, and traveling to produce and sustain this blog. Obscure Vermont is funded entirely on generous donations that you the wonderful viewers and supporters have made. Expenses range from internet fees to host the blog, to investing in research materials, to traveling expenses. Also, donations help keep me current with my photography gear, computer, and computer software so that I can deliver the best quality possible.
If you value, appreciate, and enjoy reading about my adventures please consider making a donation to my new Gofundme account or Paypal. Any donation would not only be greatly appreciated and help keep this blog going, it would also keep me doing what I love. Thank you!