James P. Taylor, widely accepted as the founder of the Green Mountain Club, moved to Vermont in 1908. He had accepted a position as assistant headmaster at the Vermont Academy in Saxtons River, a coeducational school still in existence today whose motto is “Work hard, play hard!”.
An avid year-round outdoorsman, Taylor was frustrated by the lack of trails and shelters in the Green Mountains. So, with a map and an idea James P. Taylor began his work garnering interest around the state for a “long trail” connecting the mountain peaks, and a statewide hiking club to support it. Two years later while speaking to a group in Boston, Mr. Taylor would say: “Whatever else they may be, Vermonters are mountaineers.”
The Green Mountain Club (GMC) held its first organizational meeting on March 11, 1910 in the Van Ness House in Burlington, Vermont. It was a gathering of twenty-three prominent Vermonters, including two from Rutland: Mr. M.E. Wheeler, a businessman; and Rev. W. H. Spence, pastor of the Rutland Congregational Church, now Grace Congregational Church.
Eighteen months later, on Wednesday October 4, 1911 the first meeting of the Rutland Section was held at the parish house of the Episcopal Church in Rutland. The meeting had been organized by Miss Margaret Clement, daughter of then mayor of Rutland, Percival Clement. Mr. Clement later became Governor of Vermont serving one term from 1919 to 1921. After his passing in 1927, his family built the GMC Governor Clement Shelter in his honor.
There were twenty-five people in attendance on October 4th, and after listening to a presentation by James P. Taylor, all twenty-five joined together to form the Rutland, now Killington Section. Taylor would report back to GMC officers that the new section had formed “with the promise of immediate enlargement, and with plans for immediate work.”
In December of that same year, the group met again and elected Judge James A. Merrill president. John S. Sheldon was elected Secretary. Judge Merrill would remain president of the Killington Section for many years before becoming president of the newly formed Wildlife Federation of Vermont in 1937. The first Section committees in 1911 included: trails & roads; camps & shelter houses; membership; excursions; and publicity.
In May 1911, Dr. Louis J. Paris, Chairman of the State Membership Committee and later to serve as GMC president, wrote the following in his article for The Vermonter magazine; The Green Mountain Club, Its Purposes and Projects: “The song of the Green Mountains remains unsung and, whoever, by song or story strikes the note to awaken the people of our country to the beauties of our mountains will render an inestimable service to Vermont.” We have James P. Taylor and the early Killington Section founders to thank for doing just that.
Historically Speaking Episode 112
“The Long Trail”. The Rutland Historical Society has nearly 100 glass slides of views along the Long Trail from about 1913-1930. These are integrated in to a story of the Long Trail prepared by quest Bob Perkins, Jim Davidson hosts the program.
GMC Archives, Vermont Historical Society
The Founding of the Green Mountain Club; Reidun Nuquist, GMC 75th anniversary
Green Mountain Club Notes; The Vermonter, Vol. 16, No. 9-10, Sept-Oct 1911
The Green Mountain Club,Its Purposes and Projects; Louis J. Paris. M.D., Vol. 16,
No. 5, May 1911
Rutland Herald Archives