Partridge Plaque on Appalachian Trail

Walt Henry and George GarrisonTwo Norwich alumni have undertaken a project to ensure that the name of Captain Alden Partridge will be remembered by people hiking the Appalachian Trail. Partridge, who founded Norwich University in Norwich, Vermont, in 1819, was an avid pedestrian who hiked hundreds of miles throughout the region conducting topographical surveys before there were any marked trails to follow. Norwich alumni Walt Henry ('45) and George Garrison ('42) recently completed an effort to have a plaque commemorating this innovative educator and extraordinary leader placed on the Appalachian Trail.

Approximately 35 Norwich students, alumni, and friends attended a May 17th ceremony at the Town of Norwich Historical Society to officially dedicate the memorial to Partridge.

unveiling of monument"We will always remember that it was in this town that our founder, Captain Alden Partridge, brought forth his vision of a center of education that would train America's citizen soldiers," said Norwich University President Richard Schneider during the dedication ceremony. "It was here that our mission statement was developed and implemented. That mission still guides us today.

"And it was from Norwich, Vermont, perhaps on this very spot, that Captain Partridge set out on his many marches and journeys, introducing students to the natural wonders of New England and the Northeast," Schneider said.

Also present at the dedication ceremony were Walt Henry and George Garrison.

"This is a great day to be here together and to see so many people who are interested in Alden Partridge," Garrison said. The member of the class of 1942 explained that the idea for the memorial to Partridge originated when his friend and fellow alumnus, Walt Henry, read a book by author Bill Bryson.

Captain Alden Partridge plaque"Bryson was writing about his travels around New England, and he said there ought to be a plaque to Alden Partridge somewhere in Norwich, Vermont, to inspire the few hardy hikers still heading north at this point on the Appalachian Trail," Garrison said. "When Walt told me about this, I was chairman of the Board of Fellows and he was on the board. Walt suggested that we should take care of getting a plaque placed on the trail, and we worked for four years to get this project done.

"We feel it is a wonderful tribute to Alden Partridge," Garrison said. "Norwich University, the values it promotes, and the leadership it has given this nation since 1819, started with the vision of Alden Partridge, a true leader whose accomplishments we honor today."

by Mark Albury
May 2004

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