Today when we hear the word, “turnpike,” we think of
our asphalt-covered highways, traversed by fast-moving gas-driven automobiles. Most forget that the first New Hampshire turnpike system was created through turnpike corporations which built 500 miles of toll roads, and more than 80 New Hampshire turnpikes during the years 1796-1830.
These turnpikes, built by private corporations, sold shares to the general public. The money raised was used to construct these toll roads. The actual term “turnpike” refers to a barrier built across the highway, to be opened only after the required tolls were paid. These tollgates were set up at every mile. A typical charge in the early days of NH, for a horse and rider, was one cent.
In the palmy days of the Turnpike fair,
With its toll-gates, and keepers ever there,
And latter days of the “New Road” to Weare–
Four daily, twelve passenger, six-horse Coaches,
Here, up and down, made pleasant approaches,
Foretold by the notes of the winding horn,
Cheerfully ahead on the breezes borne.
Old Wheat was first, of whom we will speak:
He drove to Boston, and back the same week!
Once, fording the swollen Souhegan, his team
Was carried away and lost in the stream.
A monstrous long nose his phiz did adorn–
They said “he blew it, instead of a horn!”
– from poem, Fragrant Memories, by Edward D. Boylston, from book, “Colonial Amherst” by Emma P. Boylston Locke, 1916
The First New Hampshire Turnpike, was incorporated in 1796, and was completed in 1801. It connected Portsmouth, New Hampshire’s only seaport, with the state capitol, Concord. It ran thirty-six miles from the Piscataqua Bridge in Durham through Lee, Barrington, Nottingham, Northwood, Epsom, Chichester, and Pembroke to the Federal Bridge over the Merrimack River in Concord NH. This ancient turnpike is much of the present Route 4. New Hampshire Historical Marker #181 commemorates this turnpike.
Second New Hampshire Turnpike, was chartered in 1799, and completed in 1801. This was the connecting route between Boston MA and Vermont. Some New Hampshire towns on this route include Unity, Francestown, Mont Vernon, and Amherst, among others. It stretched from Claremont and Cornish NH to to Amherst NH. Teams from a portion of central Vermont began to pass over this route, and instead of the older two-horse coach of Joseph Wheat, which made a weekly trip from Amherst to Boston and back without a change of horses, a line of four-horse coaches began to run tri-weekly from Windsor VT to Boston, returning on alternate days. Large droves of cattle and sheep went to market over the road, and the amount of freight in both directions soon became so large that six-horse teams were employed at all seasons of the year. Ox-teams grew out of use, and when the farmer, ignoring the professional teamster, still continued in winter to take his own produce to market, he used the double “pung” with steel shoes an inch thick. The town of Francestown NH once collected a toll of one cent per mile from traveling coaches and wagons. For nearly thirty years a vast amount of travel from Canada, Vermont and western New Hampshire passed over this road, and great quantities of merchandise were transported over it.
Third New Hampshire Turnpike, was incorporated in 1799, and was four rods wide, and fifty miles long. It was built from Walpole New Hampshire, through the towns of Keene Jaffrey, Marlborough, and Sharon, toward the Massachusetts line to Townsend. The building of this road was strongly opposed by the town of New Ipswich, who wished it to take a more southerly route. The contract for constructing it was taken by Col. Bellows of Walpole and others. It cost about $50,000, divided into shares of $200. A very small dividend was declared for a few years, but in 1813 the stock had depreciated so much that it sold for twelve dollars a share. About the year 1819 it was made a free road and adopted by the town. A toll house and gate stood on this road from 1803 and 1822, and is commemorated with New Hampshire historic marker #68.
Fourth NH Turnpike. During the period between 1800 and 1830, subsistence farming was transformed to commercial farming as transportation along the Connecticut River was supplemented by the completion of the Fourth New Hampshire Turnpike, linking Lebanon to the seacoast, and by the incorporation of the Croydon Turnpike in 1804, allowing fast transport of food products. The convergence of the rivers and these turnpikes in Lebanon, along with the White River Turnpike and the Hanover Branch Turnpike supported a number of inns and public houses in town along these well-traveled routes and provided an excellent location for industrial development. Enfield was one of the townships on this route.
The 6th N.H. turnpike, passed through Hinsdale and Winchester NH on its way to Brattleborough (VT).
Tenth NH Turnpike.
On December 28, 1803, a turnpike, the tenth in New Hampshire, was incorporated and shortly afterward there was constructed through the Notch at an expense of $40,000 for twenty miles, the money being raised by lottery. It occupied to some extend the site of the old road, and became one of the best-paying turnpikes in the northern part of the state. A Dr. Shattuck, of Boston, in his account, published in the Philadelphia Medical and Physical Journal of 1808, writes of his excursion to the “White Hills” of New Hampshire the previous year, stating “a turnpike-road is now [August 1807] building from Bath, through the Notch, to Portland.”
The temporary death of the toll road.
Eventually other and easier roads to market were constructed, the railroad was introduced, and although New Hampshire’s toll roads were still used, most of them became “free” roads owned by their respective townships. New Hampshire roads remained maintained this way until the advent and frequent use of motorized vehicles–automobiles. Toll-roads again became popular in the 1960s.
President Eisenhower signed the Federal Highway Act in 1956, which created today’s Interstate Highway system. East-west interstate route numbers end in an even number. North-south routes end in an odd number.
This resulting of the building of Interstates 93 and 293, F.E. Everett Turnpike, NH Routes 101, 3 and 3A in New Hampshire. When I was growing up in Manchester, New Hampshire, when Interstate 293 was being built, we called it the “Beltway.”
Probably one of the most well known turnpikes in New Hampshire, that is named after a New Hampshire resident, is the “F.E. Everett Turnpike,” or the “Everett Turnpike” for short.
I went through most of my life driving over that piece of road, not knowing how it received its name. It was named after Frederic Elwin Everett. the first NH State Highway commissioner. (see his family tree below)
To learn more about current Merrimack NH turnpike controversy, see “New Hampshire Toll Booths – You Gotta Love ‘Em”
FOR A MORE COMPLETE LISTING OF THE NEW HAMPSHIRE TURNPIKE SYSTEM SEE: -The Turnpikes of New England: History of the NH Turnpike (Google Books)
*Family Tree of Frederick Elwin Everett*
Frederic(k) Elwin Everett, son of Benjamin Gay & Sarah E. (Johnson-Crafts) Everett, was born 16 April 1876 in New London, Merrimack Co. NH. He married 12 Sep 1900 in New London NH to Gertrude Eaton Lamson, dau of Rufus W. & Cyrene D. (Eaton) Lamson. She was b. 11 June 1875 in Cambridge MA. Frederick was a direct descendant of Richard Everett of England and Dedham MA, and his wife Mary, through John > Richard > Jeremiah > Levi > Milton > Benjamin Gay. He was New Hampshire’s first Commissioner of the State Highway Department. In 1939 he was president of Concord Building & Loan Association. In 1933 Frederick was the TP Master of Alpha Lodge of Perfection, a Masonic Lodge, 44B S. Main Street, in Concord NH. He resided at 8 Ridge Road in Concord NH until his death, and his widow lived there afterwards. [see below at M.I.T. yearbook for additional biography].
Online Book: Massachusetts Institute of Technology First Decennial Record of the Class of 1900 [published in 1910, page 41]
Frederick E. Everett I. 1896-1899
Assistant Engineer, State Highway Department, Concord NH
Residence: New London NH
Married: Gertrude E. Lamson, Cambridge, Mass.
Children: Douglas Newton, 5 years; Barbara, 3 years
1902-1905, engineer of park department, Cambridge MA; 1906, assistant engineer preliminary survey, Cambridge pipe line.
Has kept up Walker Club traditions by playing many parts such as Silas Green in “Mrs. Briggs of the Poultry Patch,” Mr. Carter in “Messmales,” Philip in “Mr. Bob,” Larry Finnegan in “Finnigan’s Fortune,” and Silas Steele in “Nevada.” Is going important work connected with the planning, surveying, and inspection of the three tunk roads for which New Hampshire has appropriated one million dollar.
Social Security Death Index Record
Name: Frederick E. Everett
Last Residence: 03868 Rochester, Strafford, New Hampshire
Born: 19 Dec 1929
Died: 23 Jul 2001
WWI Draft Card for Frederic Elwin Everett
Residence: 56 Beacon St. Concord, Merrimack Co NH,
age 42, DOB: April 16, 1876
occupation: State Highway Commissioner, State of NH
NOK: Gertrude Lamson Everett, wife, dated Sep 9. 1918
Medium height & build, blue eyes, brown/gray hair
State (Year) SSN issued: New Hampshire (Before 1951 )
Social Security Death Index Record
Name: Douglas N. Everett
Last Residence: 03301 Concord, Merrimack, New Hampshire
Born: 3 Apr 1905
Died: 14 Sep 1996
U.S. Census > 1920 United States Federal Census > New Hampshire > Merrimack > Concord Ward 9 > District 81
Everett, Frederic E. Head M W 44 married NH NH NH commissioner state highway
Everett, Gertrude L. wife F W 44 married MA MA MA
Everett, Douglas M. son W M 14 single MA NH MA [b abt 1906]
Everett, Barbara, F W 12 single NH NH MA
Everett, Miriam dau F W 4-9/12 single NH NH MA
Everett, Elizabeth dau F W 1-3/12 single NH NH MA
U.S. Census > 1930 United States Federal Census > New Hampshire > Merrimack > Concord > District 30
Everett, Frederick E. Head 6000 M W 54 married at age 24 NH NH NH Commissioner, State Highway [b abt 1876 NH]
Everett, Gertrude L., wife F W 54 married at age 25 MA MA MA
Everett, Barbara daughter F W 23 single NH NH MA [b abt 1907]
Everett, Miriam dau F W 15 single NH NH MA [b abt 1915]
Everett, Elizabeth F W 12 single NH NH MA [b abt 1917]
1930 United States Federal Census > New Hampshire > Merrimack > Concord > District 18
Everett, Douglas N. Head M W 26 married at age 25 NH NH NH, representative, real estate
Everett, Helen F. wife F W unk age married NH NH NH
Children of Frederic(k) E. & Gertrude E. (Lamson) Everett:
1. Douglas N. Everett, b. 3 Apr 1905 Concord NH, d. 14 Sep 1996; married 29 Sep 1928 in Concord NH to Helen Foster, dau of William A. & Ethel R. (Robinson) Foster. She was b. 27 Oct 1905 and d. 16 Aug 1991 in NH. In 1930 he was employed at Morrill & Everett and asst treas NH Realty Co., resided 56 Beacon Street Concord NH. In 1937 he is also treas of New Industries Corp.; in 1939 treas of West End Development Co; in 1941 he moved to 162 Centre Street. In 1947 he was a trustee of NH Savings Bank in Concord. In 1951 pres of Dustin & Smith Agency Inc. In 1957 he was vp of NH Savings Bank in Concord and of Concord Regional Development Corp. Had son Edward F., and dau Jean both students living at home in 1951. His son Edward F. was an employee at the Mt. Washington Observatory in 1955, and was asst sec at Morrill & Everett Inc in 1960, still living at home. Edward F. married Vida D. –, and resided 10 Park Street, Concord NH.
2. Barbara Everett, b abt 1907 in Elkins (New London) NH; m. 28 Jun 1930 Concord NH to Sydney Chandler Hayward, son of Louis S. & Alice L (Hibbard) Hayward.
3. Richard S. Everett, b. 10 Nov 1914 New London NH; d. 15 Dec 1914 New London NH of acute acid poisoning.
4. Miriam Everett, b abt 1915 NH; She m. 10 Sep 1938 in Concord NH to William Woolson Marcurda, son of William H. & Maude (Wollson) Macurda. In 1933 she is in the Concord City directory, residing with her parents at 8 Ridge Road in Concord NH, a student. In 1937 she is shown in Concord directory living with her parents, employed in Boston.
5. Elizabeth Everett, b abt 1917 NH; in 1937 shown living with her parents on 8 Ridge Rd, a student; in 1939 living with parents, a student; in 1940 single living with parents, a clerk at H.G. Emmons Inc. She married 18 Apr 1941 in Concord NH to John Francis Prior, son of Ernest L. & Emma L. (Meyer) Prior.
(posted updated January 2013)