Cemetaries · Hiking Trail · Historical Landmarks · Parks · Water Scenes

Monson Ghost Town & A Random Cemetery- Hollis/Milford NH

Today was a day of blunders… I had to go to the DMV so I decided what the hell let’s go to a weird DMV and make it an excuse to go on a day trip. So I looked up interesting places to go in Milford NH. Came up with a few things but two caught my attention. The first was a cemetery where a woman was buried with what one might consider the longest diatribe ever written onto a stone – a long blathering story chuck full of probably made up drama about how her local church murdered her and such, put up by her apparently equally insane husband. I mean inscribing this thing must have taken a fortune and I don’t even think there’s any relevant information on it (like date of birth and death…)

Sadly, just like the other times I have tried to find an old cemetery I ended up at the wrong one… even worse I could not find a name for the one I did end up strolling through, all I can say is it was on Union Street in Milford. Unlike previous cemeteries this one really looked like it’d been through the wringers. The stones were mostly from the 1800’s but they were almost all marble and in a damp and somewhat shady setting which made them erode and decay far faster than they should have. Here letters wore completely away leaving nothing of a whisper of what had once been. However some were intricately carved and therefore merited me snapping photos… so I took a few.

After this I wandered off to go find what I heard was one of New England’s hidden treasures – the Monson Center, otherwise known as a preserved ghost town dating back to the 1700’s. I had driven through a number of abandoned mining towns in previous years but those were out west and seemingly more recent. I didn’t really know what to expect of this place. All I knew was that it’d be exceedingly difficult to find. So I drove up and down the entirety of Federal Hill Road twice trying to find it and let me tell you, that is a long road! It starts paved, has a long dirt middle, and ends paved. The Monson Center looks like a ditch to anyone driving by. It’s a little after the road turns to pavement and right next to “Adam’s Road” which my GPS did not register (and it looked like a driveway to boot.) There were two random parking lots here in the woods right at the Hollis town line. The entrance was just a bar gate, the sort of thing you see keeping hikers off of pastureland and private properties. I parked not knowing if the parking lot was even public. Nothing was marked.

From here I started on down the trail and before I knew it a couple of signs emerged – a welcome and a map. OK, so I am in the right place but still feeling a bit weird. There was no one else around and the more I walked the more this seemed like a driveway. The forest opened up and there before us was a timeless pastoral scene. Stone walls bordered the drive and beyond them were crisp clean cut pastures, up ahead a tiny 1700’s farmhouse with a car parked next to it. I felt like I had died and gone to heaven. The scenery instantly put me at a deep ease. It felt ancestral. It felt somehow just right. I wanted to live here! It was so quiet and peaceful! Still the house threw me. Is this someone’s property? Did I get lost again?? As it turns out I did not. The house serves as a museum and welcome center of sorts. It holds a number of artifacts and the man who owns the place is all the happier to explain them to you. The house is really small but very typical of a house from that period. I was loving it. The old man there even showed us a picture of a ghost. My young eyes just saw some dude wearing vibrantly colored Western wear reflected in the glass, camera and all, but I didn’t feel the need to kill the dream…

Outside of the house there’s a number of trails that lead you through the woods and back in time. The main path was once a road going straight through the center of this now extinct village. There’s no houses left but a few scraps of foundation lie here and there behind neat little plaques. There was something about these paths that was so dreamy and whimsical. It felt downright magical. I was so happy just to be walking through the trees, past the stone walls I had seen in every other corner of New England. The path led to a rookery and beaver dam, which is a very polite was of saying swamp. Even here I was inexplicably happy. The heron nests were easy to see but the birds must have been off foraging. Atop one of the two beaver lodges a daft Canadian goose sat on some eggs. benches were placed strategically throughout the property and I could have while away The whole day sitting on any of them, even here in the swamp!

This was not a particularly difficult path and it did not have anything terribly unusual about it… but for some reason it immediately became a new favorite place. I have every intention of going back now I know where it is!

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