January 25, 2013

From New York to Vermont Via the Ethan Allen



When skiers took to the slopes in the 1930’s and 1940’s, they traveled by ski train. Sadly, the rise of our automobile society in the 1950’s paralleled a similar demise in ski trains. However, almost fifty years later, the pendulum is swinging back. Over the past few years, each winter season has seen an introduction of new ski trains and expanded services on existing trains, and the numbers show that they are well traveled.

We recently took Amtrak’s Ethan Allen Express to Vermont’s Killington ski area. This time the journey, rather than the destination, was the purpose of the trip.

We left Penn Station on a sunny, cold January afternoon, after our skis were stowed onboard. The Ethan Allen is a comfortable train, with coach and business classes and a selection of regional foods and beverages in the cafe. The ambience onboard is lively, since many of the travelers are on their way to ski, or engage in other winter sports activitives.

For most of the trip, the Ethan Allen follows the route of the Amtrak Adirondack, traveling along the east bank of the Hudson River. This path was the route of such legendary trains as the Empire State Express and the 20th Century Limited, and though a traveler knows that just beyond the trees there are towns and man-made structures, it is difficult to reconcile that with the nineteenth century views seen by that same traveler. When we passed Bannerman Castle, on an island in the Hudson, the sense of having time traveled was particularly strong.

At Glens Falls, the train heads east into Vermont’s Champlain Valley, a broad valley of rolling hills between New York State and the Green Mountains. The train’s first stop is Fair Haven, Vermont. One of the earliest developers of this town was Congressman Matthew Lyon, a colorful character whose imprisonment under the Alien and Sedition Act lead to repeal of that unconstitutional law. Lyon was reelected to Congress while in prison and took his seat just in time to cast the tie breaking vote what made Thomas Jefferson, rather than Aaron Burr, president.

An hour after entering Vermont, we arrived at the Rutland train station. Rutland, known in the nineteenth century as the “Marble City” has a revived downtown area, with a particularly good selection of restaurants. If you have the opportunity to spend some time in Rutland, visit the Norman Rockwell Museum. This museum displays all of Rockwell’s magazine covers, and ads, posters, portraits and other Rockwell illustrations.

From Rutland, we took the one hour shuttle ride to Killington, arriving around 9:15 pm, relaxed and anticipating an enjoyable few days of skiing before our return trip. Killington currently has a Snowblind special, whereby you can save up to 30% off lodging and 25% off lift tickets. If you are flexibile in terms of where you stay, book online and once your reservation is paid for your find out where you lodging is. That is a great way to get these deep discounts. Check it out and enjoy the snow!


  1. Wow. I didn’t know there was a fog’ season in Vermont, but it makes sense now that I read this. I often teravl to Colchester to visit my son and look for interesting themes/ landscape subjects to paint. Although I may do a foggy day painting after reading you blog, for now I am more interested in bright sunny early morning atmosphere. I am hoping to get over to Champlain at Shelburne Farms for my next plein air work. Thanks for your informative article.

    Comment by Andre — March 20, 2013 @ 7:35 pm

  2. I live about 750 feet above the Lamoille River in Cambridge. This time of year its an amazing eicerxenpe to watch the fog form in the valley and actually follow the river flow downstream as the morning sun warms it.I spent about 3 years living in White River Junction and am convinced that it is the Fog Capital of Vermont.

    Comment by Alba — March 20, 2013 @ 11:44 pm

  3. visit…

    The Train Traveler…

    Trackback by visit — May 30, 2013 @ 9:58 am

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