There’s a road that’s been calling my name for a long time and I finally had the opportunity to explore it on a clear, cool, snowless March Saturday – perfect for cellar holing. It’s the road just above what is labeled as Great Pond in Piermont NH. Today this is known as Lake Tarleton, named after Colonel William Tarleton, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1791, and whose descendant’s farm is shown next to the lake. Another blog describes this as the Old Charlestown Road. The 1860 map shows 3 homesteads (J&J Webster, E Day, and J Goodwin) and the Cross Iron Ore Mine on or near this road.
The 1928 topo shows the road now as a track although it appears that there’s now a dirt road up to the iron mine and a building still near the J & J Webster farm.
So my first goal was to find the mine. I found the remains of the dirt road and followed it to where the map showed a building but saw nothing – no building, no mine. So I walked back and forth in a criss-cross pattern at one level, then 100′ uphill and so on – but still nothing. Finally I gave up and not 50′ from where I started, I saw this:At first I thought this might be a smelter but upon closer inspection it was obvious that the building I saw on the 1928 map was actually a lodge of some kind with this grand fireplace. It just shows what happens when you assume you know what you’re doing – reality gets in the way! I wonder if this lodge was in any way related to the Lake Tarleton Club, a large resort that existed from 1909 to the 1970’s and whose buildings you can see on the topo map above.
So finding the mine will have to wait for another day. The next goal was to find the Webster farm.
The old road is still used today, probably more for snowmobiles than anything else, so is easy to hike and follow, although a little rough and wet in places.
What was remarkable was that about a mile in, there suddenly appeared on the north side of the road a very well built, and well preserved, high stone wall, and this wall continued for miles. It was usually about 4 feet tall and only one stone thick so it probably was built as a sheep fence in addition to the simple delineation of the road’s right-of-way. I followed it for over 2 miles before turning around and it appears to continue much further on. Usually stone walls left to the elements tend to crumble down to linear rock piles so it was surprising to see one that has held up so well for so long.
Somebody up here was working hard! Notice how the wall crosses this stream without obstructing it in any way. Remarkable!
Every time there was a break in the wall I’d investigate. Is this the way to the house? The barn? Sure enough, eventually I stumbled on the cellar hole, which surprisingly was on a rise next to but 30′ higher than the road. So this house must have been quite imposing. Not far beyond were the remains of what was probably the barnyard, with high stone walls enclosing what would probably have been the animal pens.
Continuing on about two thirds of a mile and well past the border into the next town of Warren was an old apple orchard, planted in the middle of more stone holding pens. The orchard looked much more recent, maybe from the 1950’s or even 1960’s but it’s hard to tell. It’s possible they were planted for wildlife instead of commercially.
Another two thirds of a mile further on the south side of the road I came upon another set of substantial walls. It wasn’t obvious from the road but following my pattern of investigating every clean break in the walls I found myself deep in the woods and surrounded by walls, some high, some low, heading in all directions – clearly the fruit of someone’s long-ago efforts. But this wasn’t on any of the maps so I wasn’t sure what I was looking at until I came upon two mostly-filled cellar holes. Soon it was clear that I had another farmstead with houses, barns, and large yards, all of which were surrounded by excellent stone walls. The photo above is one of a pair of short parallel walls built into a slope that I presume was the foundation of a barn. An orchard had been planted near here also. It’s always a thrill finding a site that isn’t on the maps, although it’s possible this was the E. Day place on the 1860 map at the top of this blog.
Unfortunately it was getting late so I had to turn back. But I’ll look forward to returning here someday and finishing the entire road, maybe even finding the Cross Iron Ore Mine too. Fortunately this entire area has been purchased recently by the Trust for Public Land to be added to the White Mountain National Forest so it will be open to the public for generations to come.