by Guy Page
A tractor-trailer truck last night got stuck in Smugglers Notch. Again. It took the driver, police, and a tow truck three and a half hours to clear the road. The Florida driver was hit with a hefty $3544 fine and four points on his license.
This happens so often that the 2007 Legislature actually passed a law against it – “Commercial Vehicles Prohibited on Smugglers Notch – Impeding Traffic.” Fines start at $1000 and go up steeply if getting stuck impedes traffic or is a repeat offense.
Rte. 108 North through Stowe – AKA “the Mountain Road” – is extremely well-marked in warnings to truckers. But still, another long-haul trucker disregarded the signs, paid attention to his GPS, and got hung up on the hairpin turns and boulders of Vermont’s scenic high pass between Mt. Mansfield to the west and the Sterling range, including Spruce Peak and Madonna Mountain, to the east.
State police in Williston were notified at 11:08 pm that a tractor-trailer was stuck in Smuggler’s Notch. Upon arriving on scene, Troopers located the tractor trailer stuck in the sharp curve located near the top of Smuggler’s Notch. The operator of the vehicle was identified as Edzer Cosmeus (37) of North Lauderdale, FL. Cosmeus stated he observed the several warning signs prohibiting tractor trailers from travelling through the notch but continued to follow his GPS.
Cosmeus was issued Vermont Civil Violation Complaints pursuant to Title 23 VSA 1006 (Commercial Vehicles Prohibited on Smugglers Notch-Impeding Traffic) totaling $3544 in fines and four points.
VT Route 108 was closed until 2:38 AM this morning, when the tractor-trailer was removed from the roadway. The Vermont State Police was assisted on scene by the Stowe Police Department, Department of Motor Vehicles, and Allegiance Towing.
The “floor” of Smugglers Notch is littered with large boulders that have fallen (and occasionally continue to fall) from the steep, porous cliffs above, mostly from the Mt. Mansfield side. The highway was laid out to accommodate many of these boulders. The first carriage road through the pass didn’t open until 1894 and Route 108 dates back to 1910 but it is unclear what year it first took its current path through the Notch.
Smugglers Notch State Park was created by the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps. The road through Smugglers’ Notch has been considered a State Scenic Road since 1978 under the Vermont Scenic Roads Law.
Lined with 1,000-foot cliffs, the winding road is closed in winter. In the earlier days, only a footpath and trail for horses existed, the Vermont Dept. of Forest & Parks said.
In 1807, President Thomas Jefferson passed an embargo act forbidding American trade with Great Britain and Canada. This was a severe hardship for northern Vermonters, since Montreal was closer than other markets in the US. Many local people continued illegal trade with Canada, herding cattle and carrying other goods through the Notch. Later, fugitive slaves used the Notch as an escape route to Canada. During the Prohibition years, liquor was smuggled from Canada over the improved road built in 1922.