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The nation's only national park focusing on conservation history and the evolution of land stewardship in the United States, Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park is located off SR 12 in Woodstock. The park's woodlands, covering 550 acres, comprise an area known for its scenic beauty and are managed not only to preserve natural resources but also to maintain sustainable forestry.
The park was an outgrowth of the first environmental crisis faced by Vermonters: the large-scale deforestation of the Green Mountains in the mid-19th century as a result of settlement that began after the end of the American Revolution. It was named for George Perkins Marsh, an early conservationist who also served as a diplomat and member of Congress, and Frederick Billings, a railroad president and philanthropist who was a successful attorney in San Francisco before returning to his native state.
Billings purchased the Marsh family farm, not only establishing a progressive dairy operation but also developing one of the country's first blueprints for scientific forest management. His work was carried on by three generations of women—his wife Julia, their three daughters and Billings' granddaughter, Mary French. French subsequently married Laurance S. Rockefeller, bringing together two families with a strong commitment to conservation. The Rockefellers gifted their estate's residential and forestlands to the people of the United States, making possible the creation in 1992 of Vermont's first national park.
A fine way to experience the parkland is by walking some of the 20 miles of carriage roads and trails that crisscross Mount Tom. Note: Due to ongoing forestry and trail work, portions of the carriage roads and trails may be closed. Hike to the top of Mount Tom for beautiful views of Woodstock and the surrounding hills. Also within the national park is the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller Mansion.
The Carriage Barn, the park's visitor center, has an exhibit about land stewardship. The visitor center is open daily 10-5, Memorial Day weekend-Oct. 31. The carriage roads and trails are open year-round. Park admission is free. For park information phone (802) 457-3368, ext. 222.
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Current Location: Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, Vermont