Take a Hike – Historical Retreat Tower in Brattelboro, VT
Today in our New England Travel blog section we are sharing the perfect little hike that is easy on the body and holds a bit of historical value. As we travel during our weekend road trips sans kids, we try to find out more about the history New England holds. With New England offering a deep rooted American history value, we are usually amazed at the information we find out. We once found out that H.H. Holmes, the first American serial killer was born in New Hampshire, my home state. We found out about a Shaker Village that is still standing in Enfield, NH and the list could go on. Today let us focus on Brattelboro, VT where in the 1800’s a mental health facility was created and a retreat tower was built.
First Vermont Insane Asylum
In 1834 this location was said to be first Vermont Insane Asylum ever created. Most of this area is protected by the historical society, which includes the Retreat Tower built in 1887 by patients & staff of the asylum. Renamed The Brattleboro Retreat in the late 19th century as a means to eliminate confusion with the state-run Vermont State Asylum for the Insane, this is now on the National Register of Historical Places and has been since 1984.
The hike to the Retreat Tower is a short .1 mile hike, but how to get there will be slightly confusing. We drove around quite a bit to figure out where the trail head to the Retreat Tower in Bratttleboro, VT was because the location appeared to be full of driveways and cluttered with houses. Finally a kind lady sitting in her driveway told us the way to the Retreat Tower hiking path area. We parked on the side of the road and gathered up our drone equipment and headed to the woods through a trail that led us between homes and towards an old cemetery.
As we ventured passed the old cemetery that seems to be the location of many patients who passed away while being a patient at The Brattelboro Retreat, I couldn’t help but snap a photo. I hope to do more research about this cemetery but must admit, I am coming to somewhat of a dead end other than finding some creepy stories of the people who were buried there.
Soon we saw the tower protruding above the tree lines, my excitement grew and no more did my tired legs feel wobbly. I wanted to get up there and see this magnificent piece of history. Upon getting to the top of the hilly area, we saw it … the Retreat Tower. It seems the tower is around 65’ tall and it has the date 1887 on the front. The doors are locked but it is said they open about twice a year or so for visitors to walk up to the top.
Ambit Drone Photos
We spent a lot of time there capturing photos for our Ambit Drone business and sat admiring the view of this building built by patients & staff of The Brattelboro Retreat. I gazed up at the top, wondering if the stories of seeing spirits above were true. It is said after helping to erect this Retreat Tower that many of the patients climbed to the top and fell to their death. At night, you may happen to see a spirit up there perhaps lost and confused for they died in a way that is unthinkable, suicide by falling off a tower. Sad.
Get to the Retreat Tower
If you are looking for a good hike that leads to other trails in the woods at The Brattelboro Retreat area, then go on and get going. The location is Retreat Tower, Reservoir Loop, Brattleboro, VT 05301, GPS will get you there. Just remember the trail head is found down a path that looks like a driveway between houses.