A 100-Mile Mountainscape


Marlboro, pre-1900. Collection of Marlboro Historical Society.

This stretch of the Molly Stark Byway is remarkable for its undeveloped character and the famous breathtaking 100-mile view at the Hogback Mountain scenic overlook that provides unparalleled views of southern Vermont, northern Massachusetts, and southwestern New Hampshire uplands and valleys.

The Green Mountains lie atop some of the earth's oldest bedrock, formed about a billion years ago. About 440 million years ago, they once towered as tall as the Himalayas, before gradually eroding to their present height. They now stretch north to south in Vermont for 160 miles, averaging a width of 30 miles, and are largely made up of a metamorphic rock called schist. Glaciers advanced and retreated over the area at least 4 times, hitting their last period of maximum coverage about 20,000 years ago.

Hogback Ski Area

Opened in February 1947 on Mount Olga, Hogback Ski Area was a family-oriented recreational area. Trails were selected and cut the previous year by members of the nearby Brattleboro Outing Club (one of the first such clubs in the United States). Originally, there was no base lodge and people walked from the parking lot right onto the slopes. A warming hut was built at the bottom of the original lift where food was delivered by toboggan. Initially, the trails were unnamed and trail grooming was performed by members of the Brattleboro Outing Club who side-slipped slopes in exchange for a free day of skiing. The mountain was forced to close in 1986 by a combination of meager snowfall and increasing insurance costs. Now, the old lift lines and huts are crumbling and the trails on which many children learned to ski are reverting back to woods.


The town of Marlboro (first chartered in 1751) is one of the few existing concentra-tions of buildings along the original turnpike route. Once located at a vital commercial crossroads along the original Great Albany Road until the road was re-routed one mile north, Marlboro at various times featured two inns, a brick schoolhouse, a frame schoolhouse, a carpenter, black-smith, wheelwright, wagon maker, a tanning house, ashery, post office, parsonages, a doctor-in-residence, chair factory, and the town pond. Marlboro of yesteryear included such rural pursuits as agriculture (dairies, grains, flax, wool, potatoes, and fruit), lumbering, quarrying, sugaring, soap- and charcoal-making. Marlboro was also once the site of a highly unpopular "Great Road" tollgate and is now famous as the home of Marlboro College and the internationally renowned Marlboro Music Festival, founded by Rudolph Serkin.
Hogback Rope Tow

Hogback rope tow, circa 1950. Collection of Marlboro Historical Society.

Did You Know?

... that a half-billion years ago what is now Vermont was once located around the equator? Continental Drift was responsible for the gradual northern migration of this equatorial land mass.

... that when Hogback Ski Mountain was active decades ago, an All-day Lift Ticket cost $6, the Rope Tow (which only operated on weekends) was $3, and Adult Season Tickets cost $75?
  • Southern Vermont Natural History Museum
  • Situated high atop Hogback Mountain is the Southern Vermont Natural History Museum, which features over 600 mounted New England birds and mammals in 100 small dioramas, one of the largest collections of its type in the Northeast. Most of these wild animal specimens were collected in the early 1900s by Luman Ranger Nelson, a noted New England taxidermist. The collection is in extraordinarily good condition for its age and features many unusual specimens, including 9 albino birds and mammals and 3 extinct birds. Live hawks and owls live in the Raptor Center, and during the summer and fall there is a wildflower exhibit. Learn about Vermont wetland inhabitants through the amphibian and reptile exhibit.

  • Molly Stark State Park
  • Molly Stark State Park, located along the Byway west of this site, is named after the famous wife of General John Stark of the Revolutionary War. Originally, the first settlers used the area for farming. During the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built fireplaces and a restroom facility, but there is no evidence that this area was used by the public for camping even though local people may have used the land for picnics.
    The area was designated and opened as Molly Stark State Park on July 2, 1960. The park has open lawn areas, woods, and Mt. Olga rising to the east where there is an old fire tower with spectacular views. Hogback

    Hogback ski area. Collection of Marlboro Historical Society.