New Hampshire Missing Places: Lone Star Ranch, Reeds Ferry

Circa 1947 photograph of the entrance to Lone Star Ranch, Reeds Ferry NH. Courtesy of Don Levesque. Used with permission.

What: Lone Star Ranch was a rustic, outdoor summer-autumn entertainment venue located in Reeds Ferry (Merrimack) New Hampshire. [When the weather got colder they would hold indoor “barn dances.” ] It focused on Country & Western, and Hillbilly music, comedy and related events.  In addition at various times during its existence, picnic tables, horse back riding, concessions, and games were offered. When the weather was wet or cold there was a ranch house (barn) that was used.

Lone Star Ranch existed from 1938-1983–a span of over 45 years. The entertainers booked for these shows were a mix of local, national, and international renown. Continue reading

Cow Hampshire Humor: Fake New Hampshire Towns

First things first. This is fake news.

Not long ago a friend shared an old post from McSweeney’s Internet Tendency blog (of daily humor). It was a witty list of Fake Massachusetts Towns, by Michael Andour Brodeur, and includes places like Lameham and Methol. It is funniest to people who live there or near there, because you have to walk in our footsteps …..

When I googled “Fake New Hampshire Towns” nothing came up. Nothing! But why should that be surprising? New Hampshire folks are more practical than their neighbors to the south, and our towns already have some pretty oddball names. Continue reading

New Hampshire’s Hellish Locations

Yes, despite New Hampshire’s well-earned reputation as a place of beauty, it has at least two locations with devilish names.

The first, HELL GATE, is an old logging camp in Coos County, near Dead River. (By the way, “Dead” River obtained its name because at one point the river is nearly flat, or “dead”, not because anyone in particular died there). This old camp is located within 27,000 acres of woodland in the Northern Forest region of New Hampshire, near Erroll New Hampshire and the Maine state line, in an area known as “the Grant.”  This land was given to Dartmouth College by the State of New Hampshire in 1807.  Hell Gate Cabin is available to rent form the Dartmouth Outing Club.  Want to learn more about Hell Gate logging camp? The Northern Forest Heritage Park, has a photograph collection of the early loggers of this camp.

HELL HOLLOW, is a location in the south central section of the town of Plainfield, in Sullivan County, New Hampshire. I highly doubt that this charming, small town has any occult or evil associated with it.  More likely the early inhabitants, many of whom came from Plainfield, Connecticut, brought with them the name of Hell Hollow that already existed in their former residence. [The Connecticut folks are well known for naming places after the Prince of Darkness].  Perhaps doing this made them feel more at home.  Or perhaps odd names tickled the fancy of the early residents.  After all, they also have a Blow-Me-Down Brook.


A Haunted New Hampshire

What is it about the New Hampshire psyche that thrills to tales of mysterious sounds,

doors that open on their own, scratching sounds in the attic, and specters that silently move about?  Some believe that the glee we feel when books go flying off our shelves by themselves is a throw-back to our puritan ancestors.  They were overly absorbed with devils, witches and evil silhouettes.  And so are we still.

New Hampshire history is especially ripe with tales of ghosts and hauntings.  Did you ever notice that coincidentally many of New Hampshire’s haunted places are restaurants and hotels?  I can’t help but think of how horrifically marketing-savvy the owners must be. Regardless of the food quality, I might be tempted to visit a place where tables and chairs move on their own, or my dinner plate might go spinning off into space at any moment.  The sensation of the hair on the back of my neck standing up, makes me feel wonderfully alive.

Not that I think all of these for-profit “haunted” sites fabricated those stories.  One night at a famous inn in Newport Rhode Island, my window flew open during the night with a huge bang. Nothing like getting my attention! And I fondly remember a visit to a haunted Goffstown home, where the extremely loud and moving sound of rustling birds wings could be heard between the walls at various times, day and night. Trust me, it was the kind of noise you could not attribute to water in the pipes.

And so, as we move through these lovely autumn days, there is something quite reassuring about ghosties, and beasties, and things that go bump in the night.  Like my ancestors, perhaps I’d rather believe that these specters and demons are responsible for our world’s ills.


*Additional Reading*
(Updated October 2014)

The New England Ghost Project

Haunted Places in New Hampshire

-More Haunted Places in New Hampshire-

The Society for Paranormal Investigation

-The Dark Elements of a New Hampshire Halloween (2007)-