Goffstown Lore

View from Mount Uncanoonuc, south peak.

One of the coolest aspects of Hillcrest Farm is that it once operated as a boarding house for tourists visiting the southern Uncanoonuc peak upon which a cog railway had been built. The view from the summit spanned to Maine, even Boston, on a clear day. Little did I know such an unassuming elevation would offer such a rewarding vista.

From the deck of one of the original cottages associated with the Uncanoonuc Hotel.

A couple of years ago, Goffstown held their annual Old Home Day, with a trolley ride around the historic spots connected to the town’s past. I decided to take the tour, since we’d access some places that you’d need special permission to visit, due to private property.

The tour revealed some gems, including an original cottage that was one of three you could rent once upon a time when the Uncanoonuc Hotel, a rather grand place with a stunning view, operated to host visitors. The tour guide’s sister owned the cottage, which led to our being able to see it.

Here, passengers from the cog railway walk up to the nearby hotel from the platform.

The grand hotel (one of several versions rebuilt over time) used to sit atop the peak, drawing the wealthy city folk up from New York City & Boston for a sojourn in the fresh NH country air, restorative & soothing for those tired of the hot & stinking city. Before the advent of affordable jalopies & cars, trains, trolleys, & cog railways were the thing for travel, especially in New England.

The remnants of the old platform still remain today, crumbling and deteriorating. You wouldn’t really recognize what it had used to have been without context or a trained eye. Luckily, the tour guide knew the places where to look.

The old platform near the grand hotel, as it once appeared.

The remains of the once-used platform.

Oddly enough, there were two connections to make it up the mountain. You’d need to take the trolley from Goffstown center to the base of the mountain by a small pond. From there, you’d take a tram to the base of the summit. Then, you’d alight the actual cog railway to the final platform near the hotel.

Many vintage postcards depict the different lines and the small station house at the base of the summit.

The base of the summit, with the tram, station house, & the cog railway above.

The cog railway, on descent down the mountain, back to the station house.

There’s so much to cover related to this mountain’s history that I’ll break this into another installment, with contexts for the boarding tourists at the farm. Hopefully, you’ll be interested enough to continue reading about some of this town’s rich history! Personally, I find local history enchanting, especially give the farm’s ties. But that’s me. More to come!

The Uncanoonuc Hotel, from the early 20th Century.

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