Thanksgiving Special: What Made The Turkey Trot To Boston?

Nov 22, 2016

On this special episode, we’re going to listen to a story about how turkeys used to get from farms in Vermont to markets and dinner tables far away in Boston, a distance of a couple hundred miles. This was before refrigerated trucks. So how do you think they did it?


In the 1800s and early 1900s, farmers in Vermont needed to get their turkeys to the big markets in Boston around harvest time. But this was before the advent of refrigerated trucks that could take turkeys that had been killed and processed to market quickly. So farmers banded together and walked the turkeys along the road all the way to Boston!

Sometimes these turkey drives included thousands of birds. And the turkeys were not particularly smart. Sometimes, when they went under covered bridges, the turkeys thought it was nighttime and would settle in to roost! Plus, they were prone to wandering around other people's properties, leaving a big mess wherever they went.

We got this amazing story from Peter Gilbert, of the Vermont Humanities Council. This episode originally aired on Vermont Edition. Find out more about this historical event here.

And we invite you to picture thousands of turkeys walking across New England as your family heads out for any Thanksgiving week road trips!

Read the full transcript.