Hampshire has always had a warm place in my heart. My family and I use
to vacation in cottages along Lake Winnipesauke every summer. Places
like the Polar Caves, Lost River, and The Flume were some of my
favorite stops in the Granite State. Little did I realize that hidden
within the deep forest and steep mountains there were similar places
waiting to be revealed or rediscovered. I was pleasantly surprised
when I got a lead on a place called
Glacial Park. My friend Super 'D' had suggest we head up to Thornton
NH for an adventure weekend. His cousin Bryon is the owner and caretaker of Shamrock motel in Thornton
NH and also was an avid explorer. Byron enjoyed hiking the NH forest with his
kids and knew of several other interesting sites we
could visit. Once the seed was planted in Bryon's ear, he invited my
Super 'D' and I to stay
up at his motel for the weekend. He promised give us a tour of some of
the forgotten sites in NH that he felt would make a great addition to
Glacial Park was a long forgotten tourist attraction
that was located in Thornton. In the early 1900's it was know as 'Mill
Brook Cascade' and was a popular stop for tourist. It had been
developed into commercial site called 'Glacial Park' by the
thirties. The park itself seemed to encompass a large tract of land
near the falls. The park also had bungalows at the entrance of the
park that was available for guest to rent. Finding any facts concerning
the parks history proved to be difficult. The few facts I did uncover I found on a few very
old postcards and a brochure from the park.
of the former park was in a secluded area northeast of the
Motel. Byron mention that the are might be private
property and local residents may not appreciate strangers lurking in
their back yards. Bryon direction to the area but left it to us to
explore this one on our own.
The following day
we located the trailhead. Super 'D' decided he'd rather stay in
his comfy car then join me on this adventure. As usual, it was going
to be a solo mission. Quickly I scurried from the car to the tree
cover like a frightened rabbit. Since I was
surrounded by 100+ yards of open field, I was worried that a bitter
local resident may spot me entering the trail. The fact that a “No
Trespassing” sign at the trailhead greeted me, gave me reason to
pause and reevaluate the risk factor of the mission. I soon realized
that it wasn't a valid police issued sign.
Now feeling more confident due to the
tree cover, I took a deep breath and proceeded on. It wasn't long
before I discovered the remains of the cabin that marked the entrance
to the park. The cabin most likely served as a place to for
ticket purchases and souvenir sales. If it weren't for the stone
construction of the fireplace, there would have been no signs of its
existence. My sources had mentioned the fireplace, so I knew I was on the
followed a clear-cut path that ran along Mill Brook. It was obvious
that many people, most likely locals, have visited the area. As I
forged on, I kept one eye on the river and the other watching for the
locals. Though I was fairly confident I was on public land, I preferred to utilize my keen stealth like ninja skills. Suddenly I
heard a rustling in the bushes. Who or what could it be? It could be a
bear, a bobcat, or maybe Hostile Mountain men! Then from out of the
underbrush burst two dogs. Before I had a chance to respond, out from
the trees came a young boy who was soon to be followed by an older
boy. Shortly after, the mom appeared. There was no chance of escape
for me. The dogs must have caught the sent of an intruder (me) and
lead their owners to this uninvited rogue. Quickly I switched from
ninja to the guise of unrecognized local. I greeted the group and
mentioned what a great day it was for a few pictures of the falls.
They smiled and agreed but seemed undisturbed by my presence. I could
only assume that my hunch was right, this was public land!
It wasn't long before I arrived at the falls.
Approaching the falls, I could see various sign of human construction.
An old stone wall, barbed wire fencing, and a stone slab
staircase were obvious artifacts from the former park. Super 'D'
had foolishly requested that to take only 15 minutes to
find and photograph the site. Though I agreed, I was sure it would
take much longer. In order to keep his level of irritation down, I
quickly scrambled around to gather photos giving myself little time to
pause and appreciate the falls.
I was overwhelmed
by the variety of beautiful highlights . Gentle curves and sloops that
had been carved by the river. In contrast, the basin below was filled
with debris deposited by the receding glaciers millions of years
ago. The rubble created smaller pools and falls where the river also had
done its handy work. Its amazing how such a random mix of natural
element, given thousands of years to simmer, can create such astounding
works of art. Its places like this that all a person to get a peak at
the deep beauty within the violent and powerful forces of
nature. How beautiful it must have looked to those who had
visited this park in the past. As awe-inspiring it was, I could only
imagine how fantastic it appeared at the height of the spring thaw. As
the snow is quickly melting from the mountain tops, the intensity and
rage of the water rushing over the falls and through the basin must be
quiet a sight.
Soon it was time to
say farewell to the falls. I dashed down the trail hoping that Super 'D'
hadn't abandoned me out of spite. Sure enough, there he was
sitting in his car sipping on his coffee just were I left him.
I had only found
the Glacial Park Brochure after I had returned home. Inside I
discovered sketches pointing out features of the fall. Quickly I began
comparing my photos to the drawings and was able to locate a few that
were mentioned. When leaving NH, I had already felt the need to
return and do a follow up visit to the falls. The drawings only
encourage me to plan a visit for the summer of 2005. I had enjoyed my
stay with Byron and his family. The places they shared with me were
fantastic. I looked forward to seeing them again and exploring some of
the other mysteries buried deep in the forests of NH.
<More Glacial Park Photos>