Putnam Blodgett ’53, Tu’61

An outdoorsman on seeing the forest for the trees

Notable: A member of the Moosilauke Advisory Committee since its inception in 1974, he advocated for the construction of the new Moosilauke Ravine Lodge and donated trees, including the central forked trunk “Slingshot,” from his Bradford, Vermont, tree farm; inducted into Vermont Agricultural Hall of Fame, 2015; Dartmouth Alumni Award, 2009

Career: President, Vermont Woodlands Association, since 2000; started Berrill Farms condominiums in Hanover; operated Challenge Wilderness Camp on family-owned dairy farm where he grew up and now manages 709 acres of woodland

Education: A.B., economics

Personal: Lives in Hanover with wife Marion; father of four including Peter ’74; son of Wentworth P. Blodgett ’24; nephew of Frederick “Pete” Blodgett ’25

“Moosilauke has always been my eastern horizon. I climbed it for the first time when I was 14. At 45 I ran up it with the ski team in 45 minutes. This year I climbed it for my 88th birthday, and it took me four and a half hours. That might have been my last climb.”

“I never learned how to study at my small rural school, so it was quite a shock when I got to Dartmouth. I’d never had an advanced course, never had higher math, but I thought as part of my education I should take physics my first term. It was a disaster. It didn’t help that an administrator told freshmen, ‘Look to your left, look to your right. One of you will not be here next year.’ A real confidence boost.”

“I wanted to play freshman football because I’d never had a chance to play before. I had to watch other guys put on their equipment to figure out how to do it. I wasn’t very good and decided running 20 yards full tilt into somebody else’s knees was not the way I wanted to spend my time. After that, I majored in the Outing Club, which was the most important part of my College experience.”

“Three of us went hunting in the College Grant and came back with a bear. We put it on the toilet seat in a stall in Topliff. Whoever opened the door must’ve had a heart attack, but we never heard anything about it.”

“Running a camp gave me the opportunity to canoe and hike and be in the woods—to do all the things I loved but didn’t have time for as a farmer.”

“I saw too many people put their feet up at 65, and in two years they were dead. I believe in the ‘use it or lose it’ philosophy for body and brain, even though I’m finding it more difficult to kick my butt into motion.” 

“I got into woodland management after I realized paying for a modern dairy layout one squirt of milk at a time didn’t make sense. I’d wandered the woods since childhood.”

“There are too many deer now. They’re devouring the regrowth of desirable hardwoods because people think of Bambi when it comes to hunting them. They are an elephant in the room for foresters.”

“Vermont’s limestone soil makes sweeter maple syrup than New Hampshire’s acidic granite soil.”

“Growing up on a farm taught me the value and the necessity of hard work.”

“Nationally, only about 5 percent of forestland owners have management plans, which is appalling. We go to doctors or lawyers or accountants for expert advice, but rarely do people think to consult a professional forester to determine what they want.” 

“When the time comes, I hope my memorial service will be at the Ravine Lodge. My spirit resides on Moosilauke.”

Portfolio

Alumni Books
New titles from Dartmouth writers (March/April 2020)
Tune In, Turn On
Audio app developed by Faye Keegan ’12 offers something completely different.
The Computerization of Music

A Dartmouth professor explains how electronics have changed the music industry and made the traditional music major obsolete.

James Newman ’78
An astronaut’s perspectives on gravity, Earth, and aliens

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