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251: A Waterfall Park Memorial in Hardwick

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The lower falls at Jeudevine Falls - MELISSA PASANEN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Melissa Pasanen ©️ Seven Days
  • The lower falls at Jeudevine Falls
There are many unexpected aspects to Jeudevine Falls in Hardwick.

No. 1: The impressive 125-foot waterfall is mere yards from Craftsbury Road, but you wouldn't know it's there save for the fluttering "Open" flag beckoning from the roadside.

No. 2:  A half-mile, well-maintained, meandering gravel path loops to the smaller upper falls. The pathway is dotted with benches and fanciful decor, including a flower-filled bathtub and bowling balls randomly cradled in the crotches of trees. It's the perfect destination for a lazy Sunday stroll and a picnic.



Fanciful decor along the trail at Jeudevine Falls - MELISSA PASANEN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Melissa Pasanen ©️ Seven Days
  • Fanciful decor along the trail at Jeudevine Falls
No. 3: There are at least 40 different varieties of northern-hardy rhododendrons and azaleas growing along the lawn edge at the base of the falls. They bloom in late May and early June.

No. 4: The private property is open to the public from April through October for a small donation — but that might change soon. Bob Edebohls, the falls' owner and full-time maintenance man, said he will be obliged to close if he can't find an organization to take over his beloved falls.

On August 23, Edebohls marked the 20th anniversary of the public opening of Jeudevine Falls. He named them after local historical figure, Alden Jeudevine, who once owned the land.
Bob Edebohls - MELISSA PASANEN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Melissa Pasanen ©️ Seven Days
  • Bob Edebohls
Edebohls, 71, is tired.  He maintains the property "99.5 percent" by himself, he said.

He cut the pathways, built the event gazebo and the de facto welcome center, a scaled-down replica of the Fisher covered railroad bridge in Wolcott. Edebohls estimates it takes him three to four weeks each spring to clear the paths of winter debris.

He's had offers on the 56-acre property from people who want to turn it into a private family compound. "But the accessibility and beauty of this property will all be lost," Edebohls lamented. "That's not what I did this for."

Edebohls was 5 years old when he moved with his parents from Long Island, N.Y., to the old Bridges' place, as it was known. His mother had deep roots in Hardwick; her ancestors founded Calais and Wheelock, Edebohls said.

An only child, Edebohls had the run of the place. When his family bought the old farmhouse, barns and original 125 acres, it "was 100 percent representation of an 1850s working farm," he said. The young history buff was fascinated by the tools and farm equipment he found everywhere. The old foundry had a "bellows the size of a baby grand piano," he recalled.

He also spent hours in the woods. Back then, you had to whack your way through the brush to get to the waterfalls. "I used to climb the falls every summer day as a kid," Edebohls recalled. "I don't know how I never fell off those damn things."
The lower falls at Jeudevine Falls - MELISSA PASANEN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Melissa Pasanen ©️ Seven Days
  • The lower falls at Jeudevine Falls
Edebohls grew up and moved out west. He worked as a builder on ski resorts in Colorado, among other things. In 1997, he returned home to care for his aging parents. When they were asleep, "I'd go out and start hacking away at the bushes and trees," he said.

He had resolved to make the falls public and also honor the memory of seven of his schoolmates who had all died young in different ways. The first loss, a young woman who died in a car accident during high school right in front of his childhood home, made a lasting impression on him.
The covered bridge at Jeudevine Falls - MELISSA PASANEN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Melissa Pasanen ©️ Seven Days
  • The covered bridge at Jeudevine Falls

"Every time I look out of the house, I see where she died," he said quietly. "I was bound and determined to build this place and open it up as a memorial."

Edebohls remains hopeful that a conservation organization or other nonprofit might take interest in preserving Jeudevine Falls. In the meantime, I strongly urge you to pack a picnic, head to Hardwick and explore the falls.
Jeudevine Falls - MELISSA PASANEN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Melissa Pasanen ©️ Seven Days
  • Jeudevine Falls
As for bowling balls, Edebohls said they are his version of the shiny gazing balls in many gardens. He and his father were avid bowlers, he said, and had many old balls hanging around. "I just decided, 'I'm gonna stick bowling balls in the woods.'"
251 is a series of on-the-road stories, coming soon to a town near you.