Montpelier Mythbusters

Montpelier Mythbusters

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Vermont is loaded with myths, curses and legends, some of which specifically apply to the capital city of Montpelier. Needless to say, there are a lot of rumors about Vermont, some of which are true and some blatantly false (no, marijuana is not legal and we are not all related.) Here is a list of five common questions that I am often asked as a local of Vermont and answers provided to the best of this Montpelier mythbuster's ability.

Q: Is there really a "cursed" headstone in a Montpelier cemetery?

A: There is certainly a rumor that a headstone is cursed, but whether or not it is a reality remains to be seen. If you are brave, you can go to the Green Mountain Cemetery, located on Route 2, and see for yourself. A bronze monument of a seated figure was erected at the grave of a prominent Montpelier man, and for reasons unexplained, picked up the nickname "Black Agnes."

Apparently, anyone who sits on Black Agnes' lap during a full moon will be cursed with seven years of bad luck. Most locals know the tale, but very few have actually attempted to sit on her lap. There are plenty of tall tales of people who have met their demise after doing this, but none of them are documented.

According to Joe Citro, resident author and ghost expert, this Montpelier urban legend was most likely started because the designer of the sculpture named it "Thanatos," which is the Greek personification for "death."

Still, it remains a mystery how this scary Montpelier urban myth got started. Sit on her lap at your own risk.

Q: Is it true that a "phantom" covers the capital city with valentines?

A: This Montpelier urban legend is true. Every year since 2002 locals wake up to bright red valentines papering city businesses. Nothing stops the phantom, not even the epic Valentine's Day snowstorm of 2007 when Montpelier received over two feet of snow.

It has been something of a local quest to "catch" the phantom in the act of papering the city. You can even become a "fan" of the Valentine's Day Phantom on Facebook. Just be sure not to ruin the surprise, and keep the mystery and tradition alive. (Yes, I know who does it, and, no, I am not telling.)

Q: Is Montpelier, Vermont the only U.S state capital without a McDonald's?

A: Another Montpelier urban legend proves to be true. Believe it or not, McDonald's and its competitor, Burger King, have failed to enter the great capital of Vermont (although they are located in nearby Berlin, VT).

Montpelier is dedicated to keeping things local and has kept McDonald's out for the time being. In fact, until 1996 the superstore, Wal-Mart, was kept out of our state as well. Incidentally, Montpelier, VT is also without an airport.

Q: Is the capital building in Montpelier made out of gold?

A: The dome of the State House building is, in fact, made with some gold and topped by the Greek goddess of agriculture, Ceres. If you exit I-89 toward Montpelier, you can see the golden dome shining. It is actually made of wood, sheathed in copper and covered with 23.7 carat gold leaf, as pure as can be obtained.

It is picturesque, particularly in the autumn when the backdrop of foliage makes the capital worthy of a postcard picture. The State House and lawn are free and open to the public. Visitors can even hike trails behind the State House in scenic Hubbard Park. Locals love to use the front stairs as a lunch spot and the lawn to play Frisbee, so feel free to join in!

State House, 115 State St, Montpelier, VT; open year-round except state holidays, Mon-Fri 8AM-4PM, guided tours available on the half-hour, free of charge

Q: Are there more cows than people in Montpelier?

A: Sadly, this Montpelier mythbuster's answer is "yes." Vermont has the greatest number of dairy cows in the country. Despite that fact, it does not mean that we allow cows to wander freely in our downtown streets. In fact, you could go all day in Vermont without seeing a cow if you stick to our more urban areas, although it is unlikely you can go too long without spotting one.

The good news is that the local ice cream and cheese so many tourists enjoy are made from the milk of these cows, so it isn't really bad to be outnumbered. Besides, cows make for better neighbors than some people!

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