One Fall Day

One fall day in November, I was walking through the woods with my friend in Conway, New Hampshire. The air was crisp and there was a thin layer of snow on the ground. This was a perfect day for a fall hike and a little adventure. We unexpectedly stumbled across an archaeological site.

As we walked around we saw remnants of a time long forgotten. Granite columns, stone slabs, rusty machines, hanging cables and an abandoned building. These artifacts left behind as if people left in a hurry hoping to someday return.

This is all that is left of Redstone Granite Quarry on Rattlesnake Mountain. This granite site was built by the Maine and New Hampshire Granite Companies in 1887. The village of Redstone was a company town where there was a church, post office, school and the Maine Central Railroad passed through here. Over 200 men worked and lived here. The granite produced here was used all over the country. Two beautiful columns adorn the post office in Intervale, NH today.

Cables frozen into the lake that was once used to run and cool the machines. Most of the machines were steam powered. I used these cables to pull myself up the steep slopes.

In 1948, the factory produced granite for the last time. Some of the machines were auctioned off and the rest left here in a mill graveyard.

The walk through this forgotten piece of time is eerie. The quiet woods only being disrupted by the crunching of the snow and leaves under our feet. If you listen carefully you can hear the cracking of the ice on the pond. I imagine the once bustling and noisy days of hard mill life.

These scattered remnants tell a story. A story of a time of great need for granite and hard physical labor. A story of a little village in New Hampshire trying to survive through the harsh mountain winters, through the depression, through two World Wars.

But like all stories,this one came to an end. Atop the Rattlesnake Mountain with gorgeous views of the mountainside, the story of Redstone Quarry is buried here amongst the white birch trees and stone slabs known only to curious hikers like me and to those who desire to read the story.

America’s Most Haunted

This week’s adventure takes us to one of the top 10 most haunted places in the United States, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The year was 1863 and the United States was in the middle of a great Civil War. Brother against brother, the Union and Confederate forces fought in bloody battles along the east coast.

In July of 1863, the Union and the Confederate forces clashed in this small town taking over 50,000 soldier’s lives over a three day period. In the middle of the battle, lay a double ( like a duplex) house owned by Georgia McClellan. Georgia had just given birth to her first child. Her sister Jennie had come to assist her when the battle took place. Together they were held captive in the house as bullets blazed around them.

As night time approached, the guns silence. Jennie had been assisting wounded soldiers with water and bread. As Jennie was at the stove getting more bread, a stray bullet blazed through the door and ripped through her back going straight to her heart. She died instantly being the only civilian to die at the Battle of Gettysburg.

The family knew that they needed to get out of the house for safety. However, the only way to the basement was on the other side of the house. Luckily, an artillery shell blasted through the ceiling but did not explode. The shell opened up a hole in the wall separating the two houses allowing the family to get to the basement on the other side. Two Union soldiers carried Jennie’s body to the basement.

On July 4,1863, the battle was over. Jennie was buried in the garden, she was only 20 years old. The town was in shambles and literally turned into a graveyard. People’s lives were forever changed. Abraham Lincoln arrived in November to give his Gettysburg Address to honor the lives lost. He states that those who died here did not die in vain, a small consolation for such a big sacrifice.

Jennie’s body was eventually moved to the Evergreen Cemetery where a statue was erected in her honor with a perpetual flag hung over. She was revered as a hero and her mother was granted a pension as her daughter was serving the union cause when she was killed.

Jennie Wade House History | Gettysburg Battlefield Tours
https://www.gettysburgbattlefieldtours.com/jennie-wade-house/history/

However, is Jennie really at rest in the cemetery? According to the Jennie Wade House Museum, multiple witnesses have seen her walking the rooms and countryside. Is she seeking answers? Does she want her story told?

Regardless of why and if she is still walking the streets of Gettysburg, her house tells a story. A story of war, a story of brother against brother, and a story of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Rest in peace, Jennie Wade, you truly were a hero worth remembering.

Where’s the Witches?

Welcome to Salem,Massachusetts.

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The year is 1692 and Salem Village has a problem. The children in Salem are being inflicted by witches. These “witches” were brought to trial and found guilty of witchcraft and sentenced to hanging. The evidence that convicted them was spectral. Nineteen people were hung, one man was pressed to death and two dogs were hung.Hundreds of lives were affected.

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GILES COREY PRESSED TO DEATH.
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In order to understand why the people of Salem hung people, they believed to be witches, you have to understand the Puritan beliefs.

The Pilgrims came to Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620 to break away from the Anglican Church of England. The Puritans came for the same reason in 1630 and established the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Puritans were extremely strict in their worship practices and did not tolerate any other beliefs. They believed they were a chosen people by God to be a “City on the Hill” for others to look up to. Their village laws were biblical and no one was allowed to deviate from the pastoral regulations.

The Reverend Parris’ daughter Betty and niece Abigail began acting very strange so he asked Dr. Griggs to examine the girls but he could not find anything wrong with them. Abigail and Betty continued their strange behavior and other children began to copy them. Another child said the devil was after her. The adults now believed that the Devil had come to their little village. The children began to say that some of the people in the village were witches and had cast spells on them and forced them to sign the Devil’s book.

Living in a time with little medical knowledge, anything they could not explain was blamed on the devil or God passing judgement upon the people for sinful acts.

Historians have theories about what really happened in 1692. One theory is that the children had contracted a disease called Encephalitis causing them to have hallucinations. Maybe the children were looking for attention in a society where children were not allowed to speak unless spoken to. Another theory is that jealousy led to false accusations. There is almost a too perfect dividing line from the accusers from Salem Village to the accused in Salem Town.

We may never know what caused the Salem Witch Trials to occur in the winter of 1692. Regardless, the streets of Salem tell a story. A story of innocent lives lost, of jealousy and of religious intolerance. Land lost and names forever tainted is the legacy left behind in this small town by the sea.

Paranormal Activity at Abandoned Castle

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My adventure this week brings me about an hour and a half north of home to an enchanting castle! Who knew there was such a thing in Massachusetts! I am astounded by how much you can find around you when you’re searching. My daughter’s and I were determined to go on an adventure and we found one at the Tenney Castle in Methuen, Massachusetts. We arrived at the gates of Greycourt Park, where the ruins now reside, only to find that the park is closed. However, being the adventurers we are, we found a way in.

Originally built in 1830 by Richard Whittier, it was purchased and redesigned by Charles H. Tenney in 1882. On 76 acres, this castle was two stories high with five bays and modeled after a French chateau. This was Tenney’s summer residence. Tenney made his money in the hat business and worked and lived primarily in New York.

In 1951, the family gave up the property and it was used by many different organizations. Due to multiple fires, the property fell into disrepair. The Gatehouse is now the Methuen Historical Society. What is left behind of the castle is just a few stone walkways, columns, courtyard and an entry way.

The park is empty,not a person in sight. As we walk around the ruins, the architectural charm is still evident. I imagine what is was like in all its glory. The summer galas and children playing. As I am scoping the grounds, some men appear with equipment. The girls and I find this very suspicious since the park is closed. We decide to just continue exploring. As we come along the stable remains, we come along the men who had passed us earlier. They were taping. I thought, like me, they were taping the historical grandeur. Yet, I hear them calling a little girl… They are calling people from a past life. The people, specifically the children, that once roamed this area. The eeriness of conjured spirits was more than I wanted to experience so we quickly left the park. This place, like the others, tells a story. A story of wealth, of abundance, of destruction and apparently of children who never left.

Magnificent Mill Memory

This week’s adventure brings me closer to home to Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Let’s go back in time to the year 1789 to Derbyshire, England. A man named Samuel Slater spent his life working in a cotton mill and had great dreams of coming to America and making it rich . England forbade textile workers from leaving the country for fear of technology leaking to other countries and hindering England’s lead and power. However, Slater found a way by sneaking out of England memorizing the plans to build textile machines. He eventually came to Pawtucket, where with the financial backing of Moses Brown established the first water power cotton mill in America in 1790.

The mighty Blackstone River provided water power.

Slater used mostly women and children to run his mill as it was cheaper labor. Children were also useful because they were small enough to crawl into the machines to unjam looms.

Slater’s wealth grew as he continued to build more mills. He eventually started a company mill town called Slatersville. This town had a mill, tenement houses, and a store.

Andrew Jackson refers to Slater as ” Father of the American Factory System” but people in England referred to him as “Slater the Traitor”.

All other mills in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts will evolve from Slater’s mill. The Industrial Revolution will forever change the New England economy. Many of these mills still exist today. Some are museums, while others are apartment buildings . As you visit these mills either through historical tours or walking the grounds, they tell you a story. The story of men with dreams to make it rich, a story of a family working long hours in treacherous conditions to make ends meet, and a story of economic change.

As I walk the grounds today in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, the smallest state in the United States, I look around. I see a very well preserved historic site that excites me in all it has endured over time. I think of the people from the past and what they have endured as well. And the irony is that this site is located in a poor section of the city. Homeless lying in the park, streets littered with trash, the noise of construction on old buildings nearby. And I wonder how advanced have we really come…

SPOOKY ADVENTURE

My next adventure brings us to an amazingly historically preserved location, Bannack State Park outside Dillon, Montana. Founded in 1862, when gold was discovered around the nearby creek. People flooded into this little town hoping to get rich. The town grew and flourished becoming the first territorial capital of Montana. As quickly as it grew, it quickly declined! It’s very existence depended on the extraction of gold. When World War II began, gold mining was put to a halt. This led to Bannack’s ultimate demise. By the mid-1940’s, people left Bannack in search of new jobs. With the post office closing in 1938 and the school house in the early 1950’s, the town ultimately was abandoned leaving behind a ghost town.

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Visiting in 2020, the town looks exactly the way it was left in 1950!! The buildings line the narrow street, doors creaking in the wind. The floors crackling from the weight of your footsteps, wallpaper hanging from the walls, empty root cellars, crooked outhouses, ghastly gallows and lonely grave sites all preserved to tell a story. A story that I can visualize and feel and even smell as I walk through this town. A story of a people with dreams, hopes, and fears. Some making it rich, some losing it all. I imagine them as I lean against the buildings where they once leaned. I imagine them as I touch the banister as I walk up the stairs in their now abandoned residences. I imagine them as I lock myself into the tiny cell with memories carved into the wood. This is indeed a treasure from the past!!!

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Lemhi Pass

Welcome to another Adventure in History! Today, we are moving further into the Dillon,Montana- Salmon, Idaho border. Today, we are crossing the Continental Divide!! Super cool!! Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery exploring the Louisiana Territory had to cross through this pass. This pass was a path carved through the Bitterroot Range of the Rocky Mountains over centuries by natives. I am taking you to the exact location that Lewis and a small scouting party used this path to be the first U.S. citizens to cross the Continental Divide. This is such an important landmark where the Corps of Discovery were finally leaving the very difficult Missouri River behind and finally entering into the Columbia River basin which would eventually take them to the Pacific Ocean. This took place on August 12, 1805. Well… this just happens to be my birthday. So of course, I take you to this location on August 12, 2020 on the 215th anniversary of their crossing. Enjoy the video below!

What is the Continental Divide you ask….you can always ask me questions in the comment box. Make sure to like and follow me so every week you will get a new adventure in your email.

View Corps of Discovery journal here

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