So far, one of my favorite parts of living in a city (however small Burlington may be, it’s still a city) is that there is always something interesting to explore or observe, no matter if it’s Saturday at the farmers’ market, strolling around town, or running through parks and along the bike path. Burlington has many, many parks so it will take me a while to get to all of them, but I have already been drawn to the historic Oakledge Park.
I slowed to a stop one day as I passed an informational plaque on the side the of the trail that read “The Lost Resort.” Within a few words I learned that the park was previously a manor, a farm, and a resort (1929-1961). Aside from the manor house and recreational facilities, there were six small cabins that overlooked Lake Champlain. All are long gone, but the six chimneys are still in the woods, free for the public to explore, discover, and ponder. I quickly veered off the paved trail to the small winding wooded trails and found a few chimneys. The hearths sit high above the ground, indicating that the cabins were built on a foundation.
A search on Google led me to the Oakledge Park History website, organized by the University of Vermont Geology Department and the Governor’s Institute of Vermont. The website has historic photographs, resort brochures, histories, and news articles, as well as now and then views of the park. Sadly, the news articles reveal that the main manor house was burned by the city fire department in a training exercise in the 1970s. People who remember Oakledge from their childhood express their sadness in the history and the articles.
Today the park seems very popular (at least in good weather) and it is a beautiful spot on Lake Champlain. The chimneys and the informational signs provide a quick, appreciative glimpse of the area throughout history. I hope everyone is intrigued by at least one of the signs. I’ll probably be pausing on my runs until I’ve read every sign along my way.