Walked a couple miles up Tripoli Road, then bushwhacked another couple of miles along the historic Thornton Gore Road, up on the slope north of Tripoli Road. Visited the sites of six farmsteads from the Thornton Gore hill farm community, which was in existence from 1804 to 1900 and peaked in the mid-1800s. The Gore area encompassed 2,600 acres and included 22 hill farm sites. By 1850, 1,100 acres had been cleared for crops, orchards or pasture. Major products included potatoes, wool, maple sugar and butter. In the 1890s the NH Land Company bought most of the farm sites up for timberland, and the area was heavily logged by the Woodstock & Thornton Gore Railroad from 1909-1914. Please note that all artifacts are protected by law and should not be disturbed. For a summary of the history of Thornton Gore, visit http://whitemountainhistory.org/Thornton_Gore.html
Walking Tripoli is pleasant when there is no traffic.
The bed of Thornton Gore Road is still obvious after a century of abandonment, but it is a bushwhack in many places due to blowdowns, beech saplings, mucky spots and brushy logging cuts.
Some sections are more open.
These stone steps lead up from the road to the Peter Merrill homestead, probably built in the 1850s.
Cellar hole of the Peter Merrill farmstead, one of several Merrill properties along this section of the road. Most of the information on these farmsteads comes from a very detailed Registration Form for the National Register of Historic Places, prepared by Justine B. Gengras in 1988. Currently Thornton Gore is not listed on the Register.
This stone reads "DIV LINE" and presumably was a boundary marker.
Just around the corner is the John Merrill farmstead site. He was the patriarch of the Merrill family, buying this land in 1805. It was inherited and farmed by his son Joshua. The aforementioned Peter Merrill was another son of John Merrill.
The outline of a barn foundation.
A rusted mowing machine rests beside the road.
A tin of lard compound from N.K. Fairbank & Co.
Stone walls are ubiquitous along the Thornton Gore Road.
This wall is now partly submerged.
A nice open stretch of the road.
The David Merrill site is on a spur road to the north.
This stone well still holds water.
The cellar hole at the Joseph Wilcomb homestead.
This well is very deep!
The Wilcomb site is on a farm road that parallels Thornton Gore Road.
This is one of two cellar holes at the extensive Edmund Merrill farmstead,originally occpupied by his father, Daniel. In 1877, two AMC explorers, F. W. Clarke and Gaetano Lanza, left their horse and buggy here - it was then the last occupied residence along the road - and proceeded on foot to climb Scar Ridge via a then-prominent slide on its south slope. (For more on this trip, http://
The documentation suggests that these bricks may be the remains of a hearth for a blacksmith forge.
This is a photo of the abandoned Edmund Merrill farmhouse in the early 1900s. It was called the "Hurricane House" because it had been twisted by the force of high winds. This photo and several others appear in a chapter on Thornton Gore in the book "Walks & Climbs in the White Mountains," written by Karl Pomeroy Harrington, one of the principal AMC trail-builders of the early 1900s: https://
I continued another half-mile on the road, following the footsteps of Clarke and Lanza, gaining a glimpse of Scar Ridge long the way.
Beyond Mack Brook, the last farmstead in the valley, the McDermid site, was abandoned after 1860. In the 1930s, the Tripoli CCC camp was built over the site. This is one of the foundations from the CCC camp, which is now a major car camping location.