Island Pond, Vermont

After the Ultimate XC: Vermont Edition, we made our way from Jay over to Island Pond. Deep within Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, Island Pond is a nice community with a great pond as its centerpiece. Deb and Shep made the drive while I rode my bike. I thought it was 30 miles or so, but with my roundabout directions and one major missed turn, it turned into a 50+ mile slog over the course of three hours in fading sunlight. I ended up riding around the pond in Island Pond on a dirt road with a major thunderstorm brewing. My mobile phone had no signal, my map was only a little help, and my nerves were frayed as my skinny road tires bounced on this dirt road. Fortunately, I figured it out and met up with the family at Brighton State Park, where we spent the night.Β 

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Brighton is on Spectacle Pond, a slightly smaller body of water next to Island Pond. Yeah, it is pretty confusing. Island Pond refers to both the pond and the name of the town where the pond is located, but it isn’t the only pond. Deb and I have been trying to get to Island Pond for nearly five years. We first learned of the community through the Appalachian Mountain Club. At an annual meeting, there were representatives from Island Pond Woodworkers, a recently (at the time) formed company of former Ethan Allen Furniture employees. The EA factory was shuttered leaving many locals without their jobs. Apparently, several employees banded together to reform a company. They sold furniture made from sustainably harvested wood and had received grants to give business a go on their own. One of their larger customers was Dartmouth College.

I love stories like this and we vowed to try them out. That chance came when we built our house and needed a custom butcher block for our own island…the one in the center of the kitchen. We phoned them up and they came through. Through a contact at a good Horst Engineering customer, Vermont Aerospace, in nearby Lyndonville, we arranged a pickup. So, we had never been to Island Pond until Saturday. Interestignly, I’m not sure what has become of Island Pond Woodworkers. I heard an investor had bought them out, but I’m not sure if they are still making furniture. On my ride, I passed a large blue industrial building on Rt.105 that was vacant with a “for sale” sign out front. I figured that there aren’t too many factories in Island Pond, a town originally known for its railroad and logging businesses. Hopefully, they aren’t out of business. That would be a real disappointment.

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