Why Is Montpelier The Capital Of Vermont?

Why Is Montpelier The Capital Of Vermont?
Why Is Montpelier The Capital Of Vermont?


Anyone who is heading to Vermont should know about the state’s capital, and how this capital was chosen. Understanding this will help you get a better understanding of the history and shape of Vermont.

Montpelier is the capital of Vermont, and it is also the least populous capital in the whole of the US. It has a population of only around 8,000, although many more people work in the city than live in it. It was named after the city in southern France, and it offers wide swathes of rich land.

In this article, we’re going to learn about how Montpelier came to be, where it is, and what it’s famous for. We will look at who made it the capital of Vermont and why, and also check out some of the top places you can visit while there.

Where Is The Capital Of Vermont Located? 

Where Is The Capital Of Vermont Located
Where Is The Capital Of Vermont Located

Montpelier is in the north of Vermont, fairly close to the center, on the Winooski River. It is surrounded by towns such as Berlin and Middlesex, in between various forests and state parks. To the west lie Essex and Burlington, while to the east, Newbury.

Vermont is known as the Green Mountain State for good reason, and almost all of its settlements are based around watercourses and road access. It was mostly settled by the French in the north and the English in the southeast, and it was still viewed as a wild country long after the other New England states were settled.

This is partly due to its mountainous land and inaccessibility. The Green Mountains run along the western edge of the state, followed by the Hudson River, Lake George, and Lake Champlain. This made Vermont difficult to access from the west, although there are few physical barriers on its other borders.

Its surrounding states are New York to the west, Montreal to the north, New Hampshire to the east, and Massachusetts to the south.

Brief History Of Montpelier

Montpelier, Vermont, USA town skyline.
Montpelier, Vermont, USA town skyline.

It is thought that the first permanent dwelling on this city’s site was established in 1787, although the town was chartered a full 6 years earlier. A town meeting was held there in 1791, and then the city was named the state capital in 1805.

The people who lived in the town were immensely proud to have been chosen and contributed significant amounts of money to the building of a state house. However, this didn’t satisfy for long and, afraid that they might lose the title, the people built a second, grander state house between 1833 and 1838.

Montpelier continued to grow and thrive, with the river providing power for the mills. In 1849, the Vermont Central Railroad came to town, bringing significantly better opportunities for trade. Around this time, the town was split into two areas: East Montpelier and Montpelier. This remains the case today.

In 1857, the state house was ruined by a fire, and only small parts could be saved. At this point, Burlington made concerted efforts to have the state capital moved (along with a few other towns vying for the title), but it was unsuccessful. Montpelier stayed as the capital of Vermont.

When Did Montpelier Become The Capital Of Vermont?

Wrightsville Reservoir at sunset near Montpelier in Green Mountains of Vermont
Wrightsville Reservoir at sunset near Montpelier in Green Mountains of Vermont

Montpelier became the capital in 1805, following a lot of indecision and bickering among the state’s governors. It had many advantages, which we will explore in more detail below, although its selection was not welcomed by other towns and there was hot competition that remained for years.

Why Is Montpelier The Capital Of Vermont?

Determining why Montpelier was chosen involves looking at quite a few different things. The first is its location. Its central location and its excellent access to the river played a major role in its success. Its major competitor, Burlington, was determined to be too far from the center of the state, and too close to the border.

Furthermore, because of its position, Montpelier wasn’t associated with either the eastern or western sides of the Green Mountains, making it politically advantageous. It offered a good location for trade and movement, as well as fertile land. All of these things combined made it an excellent choice for the capital, especially given that the citizens so eagerly contributed to building the state house.

Best Places To Visit In Montpelier

There are lots of things to see and do in Montpelier. To begin with, Hubbard Park is excellent, with amazing views from the top and an ancient tower to admire. 

It’s a short hike and quite a steep climb, so bear this in mind before you go. You will be rewarded with a good view of Montpelier, although the trees do make it harder to see at certain times of the year.

The Vermont State House is also well worth a visit. It underwent spectacular restoration efforts after the fire, and although it is small, it’s immensely beautiful. There is an amazing gold dome, a gorgeous statue of Ethan Allen, and another of the goddess Ceres, and you have the option to do a tour so you can learn more about its history.

Visitors note that it is a particularly friendly state house to visit, and it’s a wonderful way to get children engaged with history.

If you’re in Vermont to find out more about their amazing maple syrup production, you should also visit the Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks. This incredible and unique place offers free sugar tasting and tours, and a theater with multimedia displays.

Its outdoor museum will teach you everything you want to know about the production of maple syrup, and it’s a highly informative experience. Who wouldn’t want to go and try maple syrup flavors, see some cute animals, and learn more about this popular food?


Vermont’s capital, Montpelier, may be small, but it is a beautiful and unique place that is worth visiting. It has a non-commercial atmosphere that is full of appeal, and it will take you back in time. It has managed to retain its title despite major challenges from other cities, and will likely continue to do so!

See Also

Capital Cities 

Hi and welcome to my travel blog! Based in London, I work in investment banking in a quantitative field and although I am not part of the travel industry, I have a ton of passion for travel. My blog is a reference guide for my fellow travelers with the same passion as me. Hopefully the blog is easy to navigate and my aim is to bring the most relevant and interesting information before you begin your journey!