New 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 the website.
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.
The location 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.
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 right track.
I 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 materials and 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.
~ Strange New England
Lost Glacial Park Gallery
You can find more information about Glacial Park at:
Posted in Geology, Historical, Natural Wonders and tagged falls, forgotten, glacial park, glacialpark, glaical, new england, new hampshire, nh, strange, strange new englandwith 3 comments.