Did you know that New England has its own (little) Grand Canyon and that it's in Vermont?
The 1.4 mile long Quechee Gorge (say KweeChee) on the Ottauquechee River has been called Vermont’s Little Grand Canyon. It's one of New England’s most popular natural wonders — best of all, you can see it FREE. (Just avoid the touristy souvenir shops in the nearby Quechee Village.)
Quechee Gorge can be seen from the Quechee Gorge Bridge on Vermont Route 4A in the Town of Hartford. The drop from the Quechee Gorge Bridge to the bottom of the gorge is roughly 165 feet.
Quechee Gorge is now part of the 612-acre Quechee Gorge State Park. The land was originally owned by the A. G. Dewey Company, a major wool processor in the 19th century. Dewey established a mill about 1869 and became a successful wool processor, employing as many as 500 people, who lived in the mill village. Water from the falls and the mill pond just above the gorge powered the facility. In 1841, Dewey began making reworked used wool called shoddy. By 1936, the mill was the oldest one in the country making shoddy wool; it was used to make Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees baseball uniforms, and U.S. Army and Navy blankets. The mill closed in 1952 and relocated to Enfield, New Hampshire. Over the next several years, nearly all of the mill houses and buildings were demolished. Remains of mill and dam can still be seen at the head of the gorge.
Quechee was known for a picturesque covered bridge at the site of the old Quechee mill. In 2011, the bridge was severely damaged by flooding as a result of Tropical Storm Irene. Irene did more damage in one day to the state's old bridges than is typically done in a decade. Many of them had stood for more than 100 years. The bridge is under repair (image from Burlington (VT) Free Press pre-Irene).