Made in Vermont: Treeline Terrains

Published: May. 15, 2023 at 6:32 PM EDT
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MONKTON, Vt. (WCAX) - With every ridgeline, bump or crevice carved into the wood, comes a story.

“Someone will come to us with an idea of a place that they really love. Maybe it was their favorite camping spot with their family when they were growing up, or a motorcycle trip that they took with their high school buddies,” explained Jacob Freedman.

The goal of Treeline Terrains? To take those stories and turn them into wooden maps.

For the past few years, college buddies Alex Gemme, Jacob Freedman and Nathaniel Klein have been shaping their vision. The three met working at the Middlebury Snow Bowl. That’s really where this story begins.

“We wanted to give a gift to our boss there. We ended up making a little 3-D map of the Middlebury College Snow Bowl at the Middlebury College Makerspace,” Klein said.

The three got nothing but positive feedback on the project, so they kept making map after map, perfecting their process.

“Once we graduated, we decided, hey, let’s give it a go,” Klein said.

None of them had much woodworking knowledge when they started. Determined to make it stick, they learned the ropes through trial and error. Two years into the business, they say they’ve got the woodworking bug.

“I also think we really love being in Vermont and this was a way for us to stay in Vermont and have something we’re passionate about,” Klein said.

A CNC router does most of the heavy lifting when it comes to carving the locally sourced lumber. After figuring out how to code the machine, they can make a map of just about anywhere in the world. Like other maps, water is shown in blue. But on these wooden works, the blue is sparkly epoxy for a pop of color and a mixed texture.

Many of their maps are odes to Vermont’s ski areas or iconic mountains.

“We do a lot of stuff based in Vermont and New England, just because that’s where a lot of our customers are from. But just in the last month, we’ve made a map of Nepal and the Indian province right next to Nepal... just customers that found us online,” Freedman said.

The company does a lot of custom work, and not always in the form of maps. A table made for Vermont Adaptive seeks to help athletes get an idea of the mountains they’re recreating on.

“Visually impaired athletes can get a feel for the trails and the terrain around them when they go out for a day on the slopes,” Freedman said.

No matter if it’s a touchable map of Mount Ellen or a wall-mounted map of Cape Cod, these entrepreneurs are happy to have found their niche and are happy to be making these maps in Vermont.

“This all started out as a gift, and we just wanted to make really meaningful gifts for people of places that they care about and help them to tell the stories that mean the most to them,” Freedman said. “That’s really what’s kept us going, being able to work with different people, connect with the stories, connect with the places they care about and then carve that out for them as a really special custom gift.”