Steeped in History, Embracing Change
A HISTORIC DOWNTOWN
The first bridge to be built anywhere on the 410-mile long Connecticut River was across the narrow Bellows Falls gorge. Later, in 1850, the arrival of railroads transformed the village into a regional rail hub, and water-powered mills made Bellows Falls one of the nation's largest paper manufacturers in the early 20th century. Today the downtown district still has some of the look of the 19th century and the feel of the mid 20th. But beneath that look, it is a town that embraces everything new.
You’ll find a wide range of locally-owned restaurants, featuring locally-sourced food, antiques and art galleries, and an eclectic mix of shops, including a time-warp hardware store where the old wood floors creak underfoot.
Arts and culture abound, with a restored Opera House showing first run and classic movies and live entertainment. Nationally-known musicians appear regularly in town, and the Vermont Symphony Orchestra performs here several times a year. Artist studios showcase local talent with special events during Open Studio weekends in the spring and fall. An independent bookstore and a used bookstore round out the mix.
Take an historical walking tour to see nearby residential neighborhoods rich in Victorian era architecture. The Waypoint Welcome Center, located near the canal, embodies the town's railroad history and contains exhibits and information about the region. Bellows Falls on the Connecticut River Byway, and TransCanada’s fish ladder at the power dam at the falls, reflect the history and importance of water power in the town’s development. Ancient petroglyphs, created by indigenous people, are visible along the river bank nearby.
Special events range from the annual music festival Roots on the River, to Rockingham Old Home Days celebrating history and community, and the annual pilgrimage to the Rockingham Meeting House. The Farmers Market is active outdoors from May to October, and indoors during the winter months. A Shop Local program during the holidays encourages local purchasing, while promoting many small businesses.
Bellows Falls is accessible by train on Amtrak's Vermonter line, which now offers carry-on bike service. Click here to see local travel details and amenities that support a car-free vacation for train travelers.