This is the southernmost cross-state road in Vermont (Brattleboro to Bennington)...I once had a New York guest who had come that way over Hogback in the late afternoon, and the next morning before the rest of us were out of bed we discovered that he had got up and driven back twenty miles up Hogback to drink in that view once more...Charles Edward Crane

Woodford is the kind of Vermont town that you pass on the road before recognizing you've entered or left it--then turning around in someone's driveway (hoping he's not glaring suspiciously out his window) you head back the way you came, still searching for some sign of local identity.

Woodford is so lacking a center that it's sarcastically referred to by local scoffers as "Woodford City" ("Woodford City Stream" and "Woodford City Road" can be found in my Vermont atlas, so the insult seems to have stuck.) But like so many other nondescript, seemingly non-towns in Vermont, interesting discoveries reward closer examination.

I found out that Woodford is defined by its altitude, not its architecture. At 2,2oo feet, it's the highest town in the state (and 400 residents make it one of the smallest towns.) Woodford sits at this great height in the middle of Green Mountain Forest wilderness. Fortunately for local residents, 398 acres of these spruce, fir and birches, lakes, ponds and rills have been set aside for camping, hiking and fishing. This highest state park in Vermont also bears the proud name of "Woodford".

Route 9 between Bennington and Brattleboro is sometimes called the "Molly Stark Trail". Molly's husband, General John Stark, was instrumental in repelling the British near Bennington, thereby turning the tide of the Revolutionary War. (His famous battle cry was, "The Red Coats and the Tories...are ours, or this night Molly Stark sleeps a widow!", and fortunately for all of us, she didn't.) But Molly is also honored with place names all around southern Vermont in her own right as a selfless nurse and brave patriot.

This Molly Stark trail heading east from Bennington is one of the loveliest, and also loneliest, stretches of two-lane road in the state. Rolling down from the apex of "Woodford City", I admire the people who live so comfortably isolated here, every night falling asleep amidst mile upon mile of silent mystery.