Big, Bold & Blood-thirsty

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 Road Junkies 0 Comments

Brattleboro, VT to Durham, NH
Stonewall Farm in Keene, NH, was our first destination of the day. We were looking for a couple of letterboxes planted there but found so much more. A non-profit, member-supported educational facility and working dairy farm, Stonewall provides a wide variety of programs for school children, workshops and special events to the public throughout the year. This building is their learning center. Stonewall Farm has a rich history which can be traced as far back as the mid-1700s. A stagecoach route came through the farm during the 1800s, and later the Cheshire Railroad bordered the property. When the family which had owned the farm since 1832 found itself with no descendents to inherit the farm, it was sold to a neighboring farmer in 1989.

The buyer had a passion for Belgian draft horses, having employed them in the contract logging business for twelve years. Stonewall gave him a site more conducive to working the horses and a way to showcase their grandeur to the public by offering horse-drawn sleigh and hayrides. The letterboxes at Stonewall were hidden in a forested area and we soon discovered we were not alone in the forest. Those who insisted on being our companions were big, they were bold, and they were blood-thirsty. And they don't believe in repellents! (The photo is out of focus because we had to swat him before he could bite.)

Later in the day when we hiked through another forest we had the same experience. It was soon apparent why this beautiful waterfall is named Purgatory. Must have been named in May or June!Near Purgatory Falls, we visited Wilton, a village of about 4,000 that grew around water-powered textile mills. The current Wilton town hall was built in 1885. In addition to city offices and departments, the building also includes a theater. First used as a playhouse for traveling shows and vaudeville, the space now houses an art house movie theatre.

Still intact in the village is the Wilton Town Pound, built in the year 1773. This stone enclosure which had a single timber top and a wooden gate was used in the late 1700s and early 1800s to hold stray and unsupervised domestic grazing animals. Owners of wandering livestock paid a fine in return for the animals' release. At an ice cream stand where we were searching for a letterbox, we met a local woman and her Gordon setter dog. She told us that Gordon setters were first brought to New Hampshire by Daniel Webster in the 1840s. Also known as black and tan setters, Gordons have a black coat with distinctive chestnut color markings on their paws and lower legs, throat, and muzzles. They also have one spot above each eye and two spots on their chest. When we expressed our amazement in this consistency of location of their markings (thinking of Holstein cows, for example), Ms. Dube told us that many dog breeds with black and tan dogs have their markings in the same places-- Dobermans, dachshunds, Rottweilers, etc. We can't verify the accuracy of this but it was certainly interesting, and we did find a few photos of other breeds that supported her claim. (Clearly the dog wasn't as interested in this information as we were.)

Daily Stats:
Miles driven: 131
Letterboxes: 7
Mosquitoes encountered: 15,347
Waterfalls: 1