Worcester To Concord, N.H. Via Fitchburg And Peterboro
( Originally Published 1919 )
R. 12 § 2. Worcester to Concord, N.H. 118.0 m. Via FITCHBURG and PETERBORO.
This section of the route follows a north and south trunk line State Road the course of which is clearly indicated by blue bands on poles and posts as far as Fitchburg.
Leaving Worcester City Hall via Main St. the route turns left on Salisbury St. past the Armory, through Grove St. and Park Ave. to Chadwick Square. Taking right fork on West Boylston St. we leave the Fair Grounds and Indian Lake to the left. Passing through Barbers Crossing (3.0), after crossing R.R. turn left with trolley and follow the blue markers, passing Greendale Station on the left (3.5). ' The route crosses an arm of Wachusett Reservoir, of which there are several fine views, by a stone bridge to
8.0 WEST BOYLSTON. Alt 439 ft. Pop (twp) 1270 (1910), 1309 (1915). Worcester Co. Settled 1720. Mfg. pipe organs. West Boylston, now a farming and residential community, was formerly something of a manufacturing town. It was the home of Robert B. Thomas (1766-1847), astronomer and philosopher, who in 1793 originated the "Old Farmer's Almanack," and continued its publication for fifty years. Pipe organs are still made here by G. W. Reed & Son.
The great Nashua Storage Reservoir, or Wachusett Reservoir, with a circumference of 35 miles and an area of 4000 acres, is the largest body of water in Massachusetts and one of the largest storage reservoirs in the world, with a capacity of 63,068,000,000 gallons. It is considerably larger than the Nira Basin at Poona, India, the San Mateo Basin in California, or the Croton Reservoir of New York. As a part of the Boston Metropolitan Water System it supplies not only Boston but most of the cities and towns within a ten-mile radius. A natural lake existed here, formed by the widening of the Nashua river. The great dam built at Clinton (1896–1905)looded parts of Clinton, Sterling, and Boylston, and practically submerged the little village of West Boylston, the State buying up the farms and dwellings. From the reservoir the water is carried in a covered aqueduct about 1r feet wide and Id feet high to Northboro and thence in an open channel to Reservoir Number Five of the Sudbury System. From the Sudbury reservoir there is a second aqueduct which branches at Weston into two pipe lines, to Arlington and to the Chestnut Hill Reservoir.
Beyond Sterling Junction (10.5) the road, marked with blue, skirts the Waushaccum ponds, passes Sterling Inn, a favorite resort of motorists, on the left, and reaches
13.0 STERLING. Alt 494 ft. Pop (twp) 1359 (1910), 1403 (1915). Worcester Co. Settled 1701. Indian name Chocksett. East of the town is Redstone Hill (620 ft), so named from the color of the rocks, due to traces of iron. In the middle of the eighteenth century a shaft was sunk here about a hundred feet in search of precious metals.
Sterling was purchased in 170r from the Nashua Sachem, Tahanto, a nephew of Sholan. It was later named for Stirling, Scotland.
20.0 LEOMINSTER. Alt 404 ft. Pop (twp) 17,580 (1910), 17,646, (1915). Worcester Co. Inc. 1740. Mfg. combs, furniture, paper, buttons, pianos, baby carriages, worsteds, cottons, woolens, shirts. Value of Product, $7,501,720.
Leominster is known as the `baby city' of Massachusetts, for it celebrated its 175th anniversary as a town by adopting the city form of government, electing its first mayor in 1915. It is a manufacturing center; some seventy different industries produce minor articles of daily use. The Special U.S. Census of Manufactures of 1905 states that the township had in that year a greater variety of important manufacturing industries than any other town of its size in the State.
The manufacture of horn hairpins and combs originated here and has thrived steadily. Of the various substitutes for horn, viscoloid, made here, is sold in large quantities to manufacturers elsewhere. Leominster has the largest baby-carriage factory in the world. The Geo. W. Wheelwright Co. has a large mill here for the manufacture of bristol board.
From Leominster the route follows the blue markers to South Fitchburg, entering Main St.
24.5 FITCHBURG (R. 15, p 419).
The route follows Main St. past the City Hall. At the iron watering trough in the fork it bears right along the Park following Mechanic St. northward. Straight ahead, River St. leads to Greenfield, Route 15, and Winchendon, Route 33.
A good State Road, telegraph poles unmarked, runs to
32.0 ASHBY. Alt 900 ft. Pop (twp) 885 (1910), 911 (1915). Middlesex Co. Inc 1767.
Ashby is a typical old New England town, made up from portions of other towns. The early settlement suffered severely from the Indians, but the settlers refused to abandon the settlement and repelled all attacks.
Five miles from Ashby the road passes Watatic Pond and between Watatic Mountain (1860 ft) to the north and Little Watatic Mountain (1560 ft) to the south. A few miles beyond we cross the New Hampshire line, from which the road is plainly indicated. by gray markers on poles and fence posts.
63.0 WEST RINDGE. Alt 1090 ft. Pop (twp) 706. Cheshire Co. Settled 1739.
Rindge lies in the midst of a hilly lake region, unlike most portions of New England, sandy and forested, while the farms lie on the hill slopes. The town is on the watershed of the Connecticut and Merrimack rivers. There are several houses so situated that the water from one side of the roof flows into the Merrimack and from the other into the Connecticut. Thirteen ponds lie within the borders of the town, of which Monomock Lake is the largest. Here are the headwaters of the Contoocook river.
From West Rindge the route follows R.R. to East Jaffrey through a marshy valley, passing a number of ponds.
66.5 EAST JAFFREY. Alt 1026 ft. Pop 1895. Cheshire Co. Mfg. wooden ware and tacks.
East Jaffrey is a pleasant little village visited in summer on account of its high, bracing situation and its proximity to Monadnock. The frame of the village church was raised on June 17, 1775, and so patriotic were the townspeople that they claimed that they could hear the cannonading of Bunker Hill.
The beautiful cone of Mt. Monadnock (3186 ft) rises strikingly to the northwest. A symmetrical and isolated rock mass, it is, as Prof. W. M. Davis writes, one of the "last remaining hard-rock kernels of once much higher mountain masses, now nearly worn away."
From East Jaffrey a road leads northwest through the hamlet of Jaffrey to the Mountain House, which lies on the southern slope of Monadnock at an elevation of about 2000 feet; there is a good path, a mile and a half long, to the summit.
From East Jaffrey to Peterboro we follow the gray markers through the uplands of the valley of the Contoocook. Ahead on the right is the lofty ridge of Pack Monadnock. About the last of June the mountain laurel is very fine hereabout.
73.5 PETERBORO. Alt 744 ft. Pop (twp) 2277. Hillsboro Co. Settled 1739. Mfg. cotton, woolen, trusses, thermometers, chairs, and baskets.
Peterboro is a picturesque manufacturing village in the valley of the Contoocook, amid the green hills of the Monadnock range. The region about is surrounded by country estates and has become widely known through the summer activities of the MacDowell Association and the Sargent Camp.
At the center is the old Wilson Tavern, now known as Cross-roads, over a century old, containing twenty-one rooms and eleven fireplaces, a secret hiding hole capable of concealing six or eight persons, and pockets in the floor for the storage of treasures and documents. On the `Old Street Road' is a boulder with a memorial tablet erected by the D.A.R. and marked "Site of First Tavern/ in this town kept in 1775/ by/ Major Robert Wilson/ was fifty feet west of this spot/ from which on April 19, 1775/ the men marched in response to/ the Lexington alarm."
The town claims the first free town library in the world, established in 1833, said to be the first supported wholly by popular taxation. This unique claim was of assistance to Andrew Carnegie in 1902 when he was looking for a chance to give some money to a library, for in recognition of it he gave $5000, the interest of which is devoted to the purchase of books. The brick church of 1825 is from designs by Bulfinch.
Off to the right is the picturesque Contoocook with factories lining a portion of its banks. On a ridge to the east of the town, where are now the three residences of the Cheney estate, stood the old town meeting house of 1777.
Further east are the summits of North Pack Monadnock (2257 ft) and Pack Monadnock (2280 ft) on which is Miller Park, the oldest in New Hampshire, named in honor of General James Miller, a distinguished officer of the War of 1812 and a native of Peterboro. On the south side of the narrow notch is Temple Mountain (2081 ft).
Peterboro was the summer home of Edward MacDowell, "America's greatest composer," who did much of his work in a log cabin here in the woods. His farm, Hillcrest, a mile west of the village, has been deeded to the MacDowell Memorial Association by his widow. The aim of this colony is to allow its members to lead the free and simple life which proved such an inspiration to the man whose name it bears. It is not con-fined to any one of the arts, and musicians, artists, and literary folk enjoy its membership. Each artist has his own log cabin studio, and must be engaged in creative work. This is practically the only requirement. Among those who usually spend their summers here is Arthur Nevin, the composer. In August, 1910, a memorial pageant to MacDowell was given under the direction of Prof. George P. Baker. MacDowell's own music was adapted and the lyrics were written by Hermann Hagedorn.
Jeremiah Smith, Chief Justice and Governor of New Hampshire, was born here. He was a member of the Continental Army, and his son, Judge Jeremiah Smith, who is still very active, is one of the few remaining sons of a Revolutionary soldier. Others of prominence who have lived here are George Shattuck Morison, whom Edward Everett Hale called the `King of American Engineers,' and C. F. Pierce. Present residents include Robert P. Bass, Ex-governor of the State. Prof. W. H. Schofield, Prof. J. D. M. Ford, and Prof. J. B. Brackett, all of Harvard, are summer residents.
The first settlers were Scotch Presbyterians from Ireland. They were not used to the hardships of frontier life and endured great suffering. The nearest grist mill was at Townsend, twenty-five miles away, and the road a path indicated by marked trees. An unbroken forest stood between here and Canada. There has been some dispute as to the exact date of settlement, but reference to the petition for incorporation seems to settle that point and possibly explains the divergence of opinion. "We have continued increasing since the year 1739 except sometimes when we left said township for fear of being destroyed by the enemy, who several times drove us from our settlements soon after we began, and almost ruined many of us."
Leaving Peterboro, the route crosses the Contoocook and turns left, following the gray markers beside the river, which it crosses at North Village. Crossing R.R. at Nahor Station, the road traverses the "Swamp Woods." A mile and a half to the west is Halfmoon Lake, the site of Dr. Dudley A. Sargent's Camp, for all-the-year-round physical training.
81.0 HANCOCK. Alt 900 ft. Pop (twp) 642. Hillsboro Co.
This quiet village, named for John Hancock, is the center of a small summer colony.
Most of the towns in this region were founded during the first half of the eighteenth century as agricultural communities. By 1850 the decline of farming and the migration of the younger generation to the cities caused a decrease of population, now partly offset by the development of manufacturing.
From Hancock the route bears to the right at the band-stand and follows the gray markers into Bennington township. Here it crosses and recrosses the Contoocook river and the R.R.
87.0 ANTRIM. Alt 608 ft. Pop (twp) 1235. Hillsboro Co. Settled 1744. Mfg. cutlery, cribs, cradles, and caskets.
This fine old country town provides for human requirements from the cradle to the grave.
It was incorporated in 1777 and named for a town in the north of Ireland. By 1820 it was a prosperous farming community with a population of over 1300, but by 1870 the population had sunk to g00. The development of manufacturing has brought it up nearly to its old level, but the town is still smaller than it was a century ago. In the region round about there are a number of glacial boulders. The granite boulder on Robbs Mountain is 35 feet long and 18 feet high.
94.5 HILLSBORO. Alt 600 ft. Pop (twp) 2168. Hillsboro Co. Mfg. woolens, knit goods, and lumber.
Hillsboro is a pleasant village with an active Board of Trade and a little manufacturing, as well as an abundance of undeveloped waterpower. The old Pierce Mansion is the birthplace of President Franklin Pierce (1804-69).
101.5 HENNIKER. Alt 440 ft. Pop 1395. Merrimack Co. Mfg. bicycle rims, leatherboard, toys, and boxes.
The village lies on the crossroads of the Contoocook route and a road from Manchester to Lake Sunapee. The town was incorporated in 1768 and bears the name of Sir John Henniker, a London merchant. Proctor Square is named for the poetess Edna Dean Proctor, a native, who still summers here. Mary Cheney Beach, the composer, was also born here.
The route follows the gray markers eastward to
110.5 HOPKINTON. Pop (twp) 1578. Merrimack Co. Settled 1737.
This is a hamlet in the midst of a good farming country. On its handsome main street is the homestead of Captain Joshua Bailey, who marched his company to Bennington Fight in 1777. A mile west on Putney Hill is an ancient burying ground and the ruins of Putney Fort, a Colonial redoubt.
Note. The Lake Sunapee road from Concord via Hopkinton, Warner, and Newbury turns north (R. 34, note).
The route follows the gray markers to 118.0 CONCORD (R. 34).