The Green Mountain Club

One of Vermont’s most important organizations of the twentieth century was the Green Mountain Club. It played a vital role in publicizing, making accessible, and preserving Vermont’s majestic peaks. Founded in 1910, the club’s purpose was “to make the Vermont Mountains play a larger part in the life of the people.” James P. Taylor, associate principal of Vermont Academy at Saxton’s River, called for the establishment of the club and became its first president. The state was divided into sections and each section’s club membership was responsible for opening and maintaining trails and building shelters in the area of the mountains nearest them.

The club’s main project in its early years was to open up the Long Trail, a continuous path between Massachusetts and Canada over the skyline of the Green Mountains. The 270-mile trail was completed in 1931. Since 1917 the club has published guides to the Long Trail, and in 1922 it began printing a newsletter. During the 1930s the club took the unusual step of becoming involved in politics by working against the construction of the Green Mountain Parkway. The membership believed that a limited-access federal highway across the tops of the Green Mountains would destroy Vermont’s mountaintops. Though some members, such as James Taylor, felt the highway would make the mountains more accessible, the majority felt hikers, not automobiles, should use the Long Trail.

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