For Wilson Bentley’s 15th birthday, he received a gift that would change his perspective on the world: a microscope. Bentley grew up on his family farm in Jericho, Vermont, where snowfall can reach dozens of feet throughout the year. This is where Bentley fell in love with the art and science behind snowflakes.
A self-taught meteorologist, Bentley later became the first person to create a successful picture of a snowflake in 1885, better known as a photomicrograph. He was also the first to claim that no two snowflakes are alike.
Originally, Bentley would draw and sketch the snowflakes he viewed through his microscope, however, he would go on to discover a method that would better display the intricate details of every snowflake he viewed. In frigid temperatures, Bentley would collect snowflakes on a blackboard then quickly transport them onto a microscope slide using a chicken feather or piece of straw. Bentley conducted this daunting process in frigid weather every winter for the rest of his life. He became an expert on the science behind snowflakes, from the perfect temperature to view specimens to the science behind their creation. Most of his findings and amazing images are now on display at the Snowflake Bentley exhibit at the Old Red Mill.
Inside this historic mill, visitors are treated to a collection of Bentley’s snowflake images. Across the walls are some of Bentley’s most spectacular captures, frozen in time. The mill itself also holds historical reverence. Declared a National Historic Site in 1972, the mill is one of only two left standing along Browns River.
Know Before You Go
Winter Hours: Thursday, Friday and Saturday 11 am–4 pm.
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