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Jericho Village, VT: 'Snowflake' Bentley

Jericho Village, VT: ‘Snowflake’ Bentley
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Vermonters know snow. Most can trace their relationship with the substance along the shooting pains in their lower backs. That’s why Wilson A. “Snowflake” Bentley’s obsession was so unexpected. While his neighbors were cheering the coming of spring, he’d mourn each melting flake as “just that much beauty…gone, without leaving any record behind.”

Home-schooled and self-educated, Bentley became famous in 1885 when, at the age of 19, he was the first person to successfully photograph a single snowflake. Working from the family farm, he went on to create more than 5,000 photos, none of which, he famously noticed, was exactly like any other one. With each picture, he captured in the jagged symmetry of his subject an ethereal and fleeting beauty that broadened the fields of both photography and meteorology.

The humble Wilson Bentley Exhibit in Jericho displays many of his original slides and explores the far-reaching effects of the town’s most famous resident and his eccentric hobby. Although it’s open to debate whether his impact was greater in art or in science, most will agree that his photos are likely the most enduring things ever created in a Vermont woodshed.

The Jericho Historical Society
The Old Red Mill, Route 15, Jericho Village, VT.
802-899-3225; jerichohistoricalsociety.org, snowflakebentley.com
Winter hours: Wed. & Sat. 10-5, Sun. 1-5

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3 Responses to Jericho Village, VT: ‘Snowflake’ Bentley

  1. Jeff Folger January 2, 2009 at 1:37 pm #

    I stopped into the museum a couple years back and it was interesting to see the equipment he used to create his wonderful shots. It’s well worth your time to stop in and look around.
    Jeff

  2. Carroll Hockman January 4, 2009 at 4:32 pm #

    As an elementary school teacher for many years and a lover of children’s books, I must add that an important piece of information was not included in this article. The 1999 winner of the Caldecott award (the Oscar equivalent in children’s literature) was “Snowflake Bentley”, an incredible book detailing the life of Mr. Bentley and the processes he used, as well as the science of snow. The book is still in print and widely available in libraries and at bookstores.

  3. Heather Atwell January 19, 2009 at 4:29 pm #

    Snowflake Bentley prints (in my opinion) make beautiful gifts for any winter or snow lover.
    They are absolutely beautiful. You can purchase them from web sites listed above for the Jericho Historical Society.

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