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Word of Mouth
Mon June 2, 2014
Abandoned New Hampshire
The forests of New Hampshire provide an excellent hiding place for those things that either wish to remain hidden, or have simply fallen into the past. Old logging towns, abandoned train tracks, and the leftovers of eccentrics funded by economic booms all litter the state and set the background for many a local legend. Here we’ve listed some of the loneliest, and often mysterious, spots in the state.
Those passing through West Chesterfield can venture into the ‘Madame Sherri Forest’ to find the ruins of what appears to be a castle. The stone arches and staircases reaching to floors that no longer exist are actually the remnants of a once grand house built by Madame Antoinette Sherri. A dancer and designer from New York City who bought 600 acres on Rattlesnake Mountain in 1930, Madame Sherri built the castle in 1931 and quickly became known for her parties and the whispers of a brothel being run out of the house. The castle burned down in 1962 after falling into disrepair, but the remains attract people from all over the state. Reports of ghostly party goers are confirmed only by local legend.
Originally built up as a logging settlement, Livermore Village, in Northern Grafton County, is now the picture of a ghost town. The buildings have been reclaimed by the forest, and the only remains of the mill and powerhouse, once central to life there, are moss covered walls and foundations. The town dissolved officially in 1951 but it had been empty since 1946. Chris Jensen explores the past and present of the village in an audio postcard you can find here.
Lost Ski Areas
The New England Lost Ski Areas Project lists 175 sites in New Hampshire, many of them small rope tow areas which have shut down in the face of larger resorts. Some of them have been repurposed for tubing or mountain biking, but for most part the only sign they were ever there is a strip of new growth and a small cluster of wooden buildings.
The Isles of Shoals
The Isles of Shoals legally belong to New Hampshire. They are the state’s only salt water islands, but their ownership was debated, especially by islanders who frequently refused to pay taxes to anyone. Located 10 miles off the coast of Portsmouth, NH, and cut in half by the Maine-New Hampshire state line, the islands are often the setting for stories of local pirates and there is more than one tale of treasure being buried on their shores. By far, the most famous resident is the historian and poet Celia Thaxter, the daughter of a lighthouse keeper and early proprietor of the Appledore Hotel, which burned down in 1914. She was also involved in the Smuttynose Murders and wrote an account of the incident which is a bloody addition to her normally pastoral poems. Now, only Star Island has commercial transport and there are very few permanent residents left on these isolated isles.
Bartlett’s Abandoned Train Car
Before private transportation became widespread, the northern parts of the state were serviced by a popular railway system. Sean Hurley discovered an abandoned train car on the tracks near Crawford Notch this winter, and he brought us a moving mediation on the nature of abandoned things.
If abandoned stuff is your thing, don't forget to check out our show dedicated to unusual ghost towns, from abandoned websites to unused Olympic stadiums.