We are now bringing our phenology place blogs to a close for the year and have been asked not just to observe the landscape of our places in the present day this week, but also to divulge into their history. Now I do not know the history of my exact spot in Centennial Woods, but after spending hours in the library and looking at many of the special collections books I have found out that Centennial Woods has a pretty cool history. Going back about 10,000 years the sandy soils of the woods show that it was once part of the champlain sea. In pre-european settlement about up to the the 18th century the wood were used by native americans as hunting grounds, and they even lived in some areas. Then from the mid to late 18th century and into the 19th century the Centennial Woods land area had a few different owners including C. Baxter, H. Stevens, and Hickok, who mainly used it for agricultural land, explaining some of the flatter areas, barbed wire fencing remains, stone walls, and why most of the trees are around the same age. The farm was then abandoned around 1860 and trees like pines, and many hardwoods started to grow in causing centenial woods to now have some of the oldest tree stands in Vermont. Although this is still not considered an old growth forest because it was farm land at one point it is still an amazing area and has some huge trees that you can visit. The land fell into official ownership by the University of Vermont in April 1974, and from then on has been used as an area of research, recreation, and a spot to escape from classes and the overwhelming stress of everyday college life by many students of UVM.
Centennial Woods has given me an experience that you can find in few other places, a feeling of tranquility, a connection to nature, and the history of the land. Being able to go back to the same spot of woods on a consistent bases and watch its changes is something few people get to experience and I feel like it was an escape that has grounded me as a person.