Vermont Military Museum
The Vermont Military Museum is located at
789 Vermont National Guard Road, Colchester, VT 05446. The full name of the museum is The "Vermont National Guard and State Military History and Heritage Museum and Library" as it also has a military history reference library.
The VMM is a military museum that focuses on warfare exhibits spanning the American Revolutionary War, Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and the current conflicts in the Middle East and consists of several sections:
- Outdoors area with M1 Abrams, M60 US Army Tanks, Cannons, Helicopters, McDonnell Douglas F4 Phantom Jet Fighter, Helicopters, APCs and a few Russian and Iraqi vehicles and weapons
- Front interior area with Uniforms, Small Arms, Rockets,
- Side room with a WWI railway car showcasing WWI Uniforms and other exhibits, a WWI German Howitzer, early heavy machine guns, and other WWI and earlier military exhibits
- Back room with a replica WWI British SE5A Biplane, a Weasel tracked vehicle, a Bell H-13 Helicopter, cannons, an AM General Jeep, a Mule weapons carrier, and a very large Civil War oil painting "Sheridan' s Ride", which the museum staff is most proud of.
The museum is located on the
Camp Johnson US Joint Forces National Guard military base. You will be stopped at the guard house as you enter and asked for the purpose of your visit. You are also told not to photograph the base or include it in any background shots.
The centerpiece of the Vermont Military Museum in my eyes is the M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank. The tank is in very good condition, and from the fresh tank tracks in the grass it starts, runs and is used regularly. I suspect it and the M60 tanks are used for training purposes for the Army tank crews and driven back to their concrete stands on days when the museum is open. The M1 Abrams looks like an early version as it has the rifled main gun rather than the smooth bore weapon on M1s deployed to the Middle East.
Both the M47 and M47 Patton Tanks had fresh tank tracks leading up to their concrete pads, so they must be in running condition too. The M48 Patton had clumps of thick vegetation in the tracks so it had probably seen some off road use recently.
There were a good number or WWI exhibits. The WWI railway car is cleverly used to showcase a number of period exhibits, including uniforms, headgear, flags and posters. I loved the 1919 US Army flying regulations with rules like "Aviators must not wear spurs while flying". Just outside the rail car is a German WWI Krupp Howitzer. The staff have done an outstanding job of restoring it. In some other museums displaying artillery with wooden spoke wheels, the carriage is often supported as the wheel spokes have long rotted away. The VMM staff have skillfully recreated the spokes and completely rebuilt the wheels. Similar restoration work can be seen on the WWI 75mm artillery caisson and the Tappan mobile field kitchen required extensive welding work to bring it to its current excellent condition. They did a great job.
The oldest vehicle outside the museum was an M7 Priest Self Propelled Gun. The paint is a bit faded, but there is little rust on the tracks and especially the rear idler roller so I think it has been running under its own power recently.
Several Russian and Iraqi weapons awaiting restoration can be found out back. The Russian ZPU-4 Anti Aircraft Artillery gun looks like it was in firing condition when brought to the museum, probably from the Desert Storm campaign. The Iraqi S60 57mm AAA gun will need a bit more work, and the Russian MT-LB Multipurpose Tracked vehicle is somewhere in between in terms of condition. I'll bet it was in running condition when it first arrived.
The staff were friendly and very proud of their exhibits, especially the large "Sheridan's Ride" painting. They do ask that no flash be used around the painting. It's an impressive canvass of a Civil War battle that covers most of the wall of the room where it is located. There is no food onsite at the museum, however it is close to Essex Junction and several eating establishments. Parking is free and easy and close to the entrance. There is no admission charge but donations are welcome and appreciated. Handicap parking spots are close to the door and the museum is handicap accessible with all indoor exhibits on one level. You'll need to be able to negotiate grass to get close to the outdoor exhibits.
Visit the Vermont Military Museum's Website for hours and directions.
The museum is only open three days during mid week and on special occasions, so check in on their web site when planning your visit. Pay these folks a visit. They have a number of US Army Tanks and other armored vehicles and aircraft, and there is even more to see than I've covered here. The staff are also happy to see you too. If you live in the area, volunteer. The museum could sure use the help.