John Wentworth was in London when he received the appointment as royal governor of New Hampshire, succeeding his uncle, Benning Wentworth, in 1766. Before leaving England, he received a degree from Oxford University to add to those that he had already received from Harvard, Princeton, and Aberdeen, Scotland. He sailed for America with some fine English horses and a retinue of servants. The new way of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. He was met by a New Hampshire delegation at Newburyport and escorted to the capitol at Portsmouth.
The procession was joined by leading citizens, and everyone of importance was there except the deposed governor, Benning Wentworth. John Wentworth took the oath of office which made him "captain-general, chief executive and vice-admiral of New Hampshire". The cannon at Fort William and Mary fired a salute, the militia fired three volleys, and the spectators gave three cheers. This was followed by a public banquet and another parade. Thus began the stormiest administration in the history of New Hampshire.
Explore the remains of an extensive northern plantation built just before the outbreak of the American Revolution. Built by New Hampshire's second Royal Governor, John Wentworth, the mansion burned to the ground in 1820. It has been the site of a recent archaeological dig where artifacts have been carefully pieced together. The artifacts reveal details about daily life and work methods of the privileged class of the period. Governor John Wentworth Historic Site is located on Rt. 109 in Wolfeboro, NH.
Brewster Academy History
Governor John Wentworth and the King's Council voted in the spring of 1771 that a highway be made from the Governor's estate at Wolfeboro to Dartmouth College. Joseph Senter, David Copp, and Samuel Shepard surveyed the 67-mile road which followed this route to Plymouth. Thence it passed through Groton, around Lary's and Goose Ponds, over Moose Mountain to Hanover. Wentworth rode over it to Dartmouth's first commencement, August 28, 1771.
Marker location: Located near the Libby Museum, at the intersection of Route 109 and Long Pond Road.
The original Wolfeborough-Tuftonborough Academy opened in 1821.Soon after 1800, residents of the Wolfeboro area created school districts and erected small schoolhouses to provide an education for the children living in each district. The small amounts of money appropriated to support these schools made it necessary for the pupils to cut wood, tend the fire, bring water, sweep the floor, and do other chores that were considered "duties."
The Wolfeborough Railroad
The district system did not address itself to higher education, and by 1820 there was increased interest in establishing an academy. On May 4,1820, a meeting wus held in Ichabod Libbey's tavem, where it was voted to raise five thousand dollars and build an academy building. The academy was incorporated in June and a charter granted under the name of Wolfeborough and Tuftonborough Academy. An acre of land where the town hall now stands was deeded, and a large pillared building with a bell tower was constructed on the site. The bell tower boasted a bell cast by the son of Paul Revere. When the present town hall replaced the academy, the selectmen requisitioned the hell for the town clock.
Forty four students enrolled when the school opened in September 1821. Tuition was $3.50 per term, and hoard was $1.25 per week. The academy continued with varied success until 1866, when the property was leased by the Christian Institute. In 1873 the Christian Institute moved to Andover, New Hampshire, and became Proctor Academy. The trustees reopened the academy but in 1878, the building was turned over to the town school district tor use as a high school. Eventually, the old building was moved back and renamed the Pickering School. Brewster Memorial Hall was built on the original site.
In 1887 the charter was amended and, as directed in the will of John Brewster, the name of the school was changed to Brewster Free Academy. A new campus consisting of forty acres of land sloping from Main Street to the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee was the site of the a new building. In 1890 the south wing of the new academic building was completed. Principal Edwin H. Lord and a faculty of two moved across the street to hold classes at the new location.
Brewster's business partner, Arthur Estabrook, was not to be outdone. In addition to a one hundred thousand dollar trust, he gave Estabrook House and four annex houses on Main Street, including Kimball House and Lord House. Additional acreage wa.s added with the acquisition of the Pavilion, later called the Kingswood Inn. The 250-room lakeshore hotel was razed to provide an unobstructed view of the lake.
The Academy Building was only four years old when it was destroyed by fire on November 3, 1903. The interior of the building was a mass of flames when the fire was discovered at 3:40 a.m. The building was a total loss, but the school did not miss a session. Temporary quarters were found in the town hall, library, Kimball House, and a remodeled icehouse moved up from the old Pavilion to be used as a chapel.
Work began immediately on the new building, and on November 1,1905, the present Academic Building was dedicated. Over the years a modem athletic field was added (1928), a new gymnasium constructed (1954), the Furber House purchased (1958), the Carpenter estate acquired (1966), the new library dedicated (1979), three new dormitories completed (1986), a fourth completed (1987), and a fifth (1988). In 1939 a tuition charge of two hundred dollars was approved, and Brewster was no longer a "free" academy. In 1965 Brewster returned to the status of an independent school. The old academy began its second hundred years with excellent facilities and a tradition of providing the best possible education for the young people who attend.
The Wolfeborough Railroad was incorporated on July 1, 1868. Until then, the stagecoach and the steamboat were the only means of travel in or out of Wolfeborough. At once a committee of local businessmen set about the task of finding someone to build and operate the railroad. Several railroads were contacted, and routes suggested. But the final choice for builder was the Easter Railroad. The Portsmouth, Great Falls and Conway Railroad, a tool of the Eastern, had already laid out their line north to a point in Wakefield, NH, which was to be called Sanborn's Station. With this as a starting point, a right-of-way westward to Wolfeborough was obtained.
In November of 1871, ground was broken near Mast Landing and the project was underway. Crews worked hard through the fall and winter in order to bring the line to grade. Trees must be cleared and tons of granite must be blasted, forming two sizeable cuts. The granite excavated was used as base for the causeways across Crescent Lake and Lake Wentworth.
On January 6, 1872, the Eastern R.R. signed a lease to operate the Wolfeborough line for the next 68 years. The P.G.F. & C. had continued their tracks northward to tap the traffic to the White Mountains, leaving the Wolfeborough as a branch.
The line was 12.03 miles, with another 1.33 miles of siding and other trackage. 56 pound rail was used throughout, and all locomotives and rolling stock were provided by the Eastern.
On August 19, 1872, the line was opened to traffic. To mark this long awaited occasion, a gala celebration was held in honor of the first train. A consist of five coaches stood ready on the station track, a gleaming Eastern 4-4-0 locomotive on the point. All rides were free this day, and the train was full.
Glancing at his watch, the conductor gave the signal and the first passenger train left Wolfeborough. The schedule called for stops at Mill Village (now Wolfeboro Falls), Federal Crossing, Cottonborough (now Cotton Valley), and Wolfeborough Junction (originally Sanborn's Station). Later, flag stops were added at Lake Wentworth and Pike's (now Brookfield).
In Wofeborough, the track had been extended westward across the main street and out the main dock in order to connect with the steamboat traffic on Lake Winnipesaukee. This was now the meeting point of three railroads: the Boston, Concord & Montreal Railroad by way of their steamboat, "Lady of the Lake", the Boston and Maine Railroad by way of their newly commissioned steamboat, "Mount Washington", and the Eastern by rail. Waiting-room facilities on the dock were housed in a first floor room of a factory building. This had been used by the steamboat passengers before the coming of the rails. But, on Christmas Eve of 1899, fire destroyed the building, along with several others in the downtown area. The next year a new station was built on the dock, bringing the total on the line to eight. this new terminus of the line was called "Lake Station", and the building now serves as Dockside Restaurant.
Business boomed as eight passenger trains a day rolled up and down the line. Carriages from local inns and taverns met each train, competing for the tourist dollars. Baggage, mail, newspapers, and freight now arrived by train, making the railroad station a center of activity. In later years, even the Circus would come to town over the rails. Progress had surely come to Wolfeborough.
Years went by and competition among the railroads eased. The Boston & Maine purchased the Eastern, and all of its properties, on June 30, 1892, having controlled them by lease since 1884. Service on the branch was unchanged. The railroad changed the pace of life in the once remote community, as the increasing tourist traffic turned Wolfeborough into a bustling resort town. Fast economical rail transportation to the big cities now made it possible to work in Boston or Portland while living in Wolfeborough, commuting daily by train.
Inn March 27, 1895, Wolfeborough Junction was renamed Sanbornbille, and by 1903 the Boston & Maine's Eastern Div. was headquartered there. It was already a sizeable servicing facility, with car shop, paint shop, seven-stall roundhouse and machine shop, water tank, and large coaling dock, as well as freight and passenger stations. The passenger depot housed a large Armstrong Restaurant which served all north and southbound trains on the main line to North Conway, as well as traffic on the branch. Times were good.
But on the afternoon of April 8, 1911, tragedy struck! A workman was cleaning one of the shops prior to going home. He threw some trash in the stove and lit it off. The insulation between the chimney and the roof had worn away and before he knew it, the roof was ablaze. The flames spread quickly, fed by oil soaked timbers and rags. When the sun came up the next morning, the shops and enginehouse lay in smoking ruins.
The damage was such that the B&M decided not to rebuild the facilities, and the Division offices were moved south to Dover. Only a three-stall enginehouse was rebuilt on the site. Fifty men lost their jobs, and things would never be the same for this once thriving railroad town. Business on the Wolfeboro (by now the "ugh" had been dropped from the spelling) declined, and the next few years saw many changes.
In 1922 the Boston & Maine sold their steamboat "Mount Washington", due to the lack of revenue from that operation. In 1927, self-propelled rail cars began taking over passenger service. Except for a few extras, Wolfeboro would see only a fraction of the tourist service it once had. On May 16, 1936, the 3:05 outbound saw the last scheduled passenger train on the line. the 12-mile branch was looking at a freight only future.
By the mid-1960s, service was down to three days a week, and B&M was beginning to have thoughts of abandonment. The two remaining shippers on the line protested. The O.P. Berry Co. shipped in building materials from British Columbia. But the line was losing money for B&M. With the 1970s came a man from Pennsylvania who was interested in purchasing the Wolfeboro to operate a tourist railroad. The B&M had not yet closed the line, and with a sale would go an agreement to keep the freight service alive.
Negotiations went on throughout 1972 and during that time equipment began arriving. August 19, 1972, was the 100th anniversary of the line and, although no papers had yet been signed, B&M allowed the owners of the newly formed Wolfeboro Rail Road Co. to celebrate the event. A 25-ton Plymouth gas locomotive was used to power the "Anniversary Special." It had arrived a few weeks before from the Stewartstown R.R in Pennsylvania, where it had served as their #6. Now, dressed in a fresh coat of maroon and lettered as Wolfeboro R. R. #9, she proudly rolled a consist of a flat car and caboose into town, where and anxious crowd awaited.
After a few local speakers marked the occasion, a short train ride was offered. The flat car was lined with chairs, which were quickly filled, along with the caboose. The first passenger train in many years left Wolfeboro and made its way 6/10 of a mile east, through waist-high weeds, to Wolfeboro Falls and back.
The sale of the line was made final on December 19, 1972, just four months after the 100th anniversary.
More equipment arrived for the restoration and the crew worked hard toward a projected opening in the summer of 1973. As per agreement, the line had to be kept open year round for freight service. This was accomplished through the winter months with the Plymouth and a 1902 "Russell" snowplow, which the WRR had purchased from the Bangor & Aroostook Railroad in northern Maine.
By spring of 1973, the roster boasted three old wooden coaches, two steel coaches, a flat car, a snowplow, the Plymouth, and newly arrived, a self-propelled railcar and a 1926 Baldwin steam locomotive.
The self-propelled car was being leased from the Strasburg R.R. in Pennsylvania and had quite a history. It was a wooden car of 1885 vintage from Lancaster, Oxford & Southern Railroad. Originally a combine, the railroad converted it to a self-propelled car in their Oxford shops in 1913. One of the first such cars ever built, it is the last remaining LO&S equipment. Between the time it was retired from the LO&S roster and acquired by Strasburg, it spent a few years in service on the Grasse River Railroad in New York. It would be restored to operating condition and become the Wolfeboro's #10.
But the pride and joy of the WRR was #250. This was a 2-6-2 "Prarie" type steam locomotive. It was outshopped by the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Eddystone, PA in June of 1926, and carried builder's number #592329.
#250 was built for the Tatum Lumber Co. of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, but under a lease agreement was lettered Bonhomie & Hattiesburg Southern. The railroad later purchased the engine. Having been retired in the late 1950s, it was put in storage until 1963, when it was purchased by the Wannamaker, Kempton & Southern, a tourist line in Pennsylvania. In 1972, #250 was purchased by the WRR and stored, pending its move to Wolfeboro.
The '73 season began with #9 and two steel coaches running between Wolfeboro depot and Willey Brook, a seven-mile round trip. While, at the Fernald enginehouse, #250 was being rebuilt and retubed to Federal specs. On August 1, 1972, the giant engine rolled into Wolfeboro under a full head of steam. Her black paint gleamed in the summer sun as she began her new life on WRR. Steam passenger service had returned.
Fans came from all over the country to ride behind the 2-6-2, some even who knew her in the past on Mississippi rails. The WRR's first year was good and saw over 20,000 passengers riding the rails.
Each year business increased. By 1974, railcar #10 had been restored and placed in service, sharing the schedule with #250. This freed #9 for switching duties and extras. The WRR was becoming quite a railroad.
With operations on the Wolfeboro going so nicely, in 1975 the owners turned their thoughts toward expansion. The state of New Hampshire was in the final stages of purchasing the 78-miles of trackage between Concord and Lincoln, from the Boston & Maine. The WRR submitted a bid to lease and operate the line, and won. On January 28, 1976, the papers were signed, and the Wolfeboro took over operations on what was to be known as their "Central Division".
The potential for revenue looked good. There were already several shippers and receivers on the line, with more expected. The old Franconia Paper Co. mill in Lincoln was about to reopen with a recycling operation. This was to mean car-loads of scrap paper going in and finished rolls of newsprint going out.
The potential for tourist passenger service looked to be even better than back on the Branch. The route ran through the middle of the Lakes Region, and north into the White Mountains, offering some spectacular scenery, The search for motive power took them into the neighboring state of Maine where, in December of 1975, they purchased Maine Central RS-3 #557. This diesel road switcher was built by Alco-GE in December of 1953, serial number 80567, and would provide ample power for the railroad's needs. The engine was moved to the enginehouse in Lakeport, N.H., where it was painted, lettered, and numbered #101. Also moved to Lakeport, from Wolfeboro, were the two steel coaches, the "Russell" snowplow, and an ex-Grand Trunk caboose. This was to be the beginning of the "Central Division" stable of rolling stock.
But success on this line Just wasn't in the WRR's future. A severe winter and several massive wash-outs from spring run off, as well as accidents and derailments, hampered operations. These events ran operating expenses far higher than anyone could have foreseen. The mill's reopening was not successful, and the few loads which were shipped out went by truck. The 425 cars handled during that first year fell short of the 2,100 which had been projected.
The revenue from passenger service had been good. Week-end excursions between Concord and Lincoln, in both spring and fall, had been successful, especially during the autumn foliage season. Through the summer months, the daily shuttles between Laconia and Meredith had proved to be a great convenience to those traveling to and from Weirs Beach.
But the losses had been too great- So, on February 12, 1977, the Wolfeboro Rail Road ceased all operations on the line, turning it over to a new contractor. With this act, WRR's short lived "Central Division" passed into history, for the time being anyway.
During the 1976 season, WRR was looking around for a larger railcar to take over the duties from #10, which was proving too small for the traffic. The search ended in Mont Joli, Quebec. The Canada & Gulf Terminal Railway had a retired railcar and trailer which would fit Wolfeboro's need perfectly.
Motor Train #405 had been built for the New York Central System in 1928 by the J.G. Brill Co. of Philidelphia, as NYC's M-206. In 1937, it was renumbered to M-405. This 73 foot unit was built as a Mail-Baggage-Passenger car, and served the NYC on its Toledo & Ohio Central line, as well as others. It was sold to the Canada & Gulf Terminal in 1947.
Trailer Car #501 had originally been built as a Brill Model 75 self-propelled car. The unit was outshopped in 1926 by the Ottawa Car Mfg. Co. as Canada & Gulf Terminal #100. It was converted to a trailer in 1949. The two units had been used together on the C> for many years. They were transported to Wolfeboro and went into service on the branch in 1977.
Economic conditions in the country were on a downward trend, and the price of gas was headed in the other direction. It was a poor year for tourists and it showed in the summer revenue. With the losses incurred during the "Central Division" venture,the future of the little railroad was once again in doubt.
On November 10, 1977, an ad appeared in the Wall Street Journal offering the 12-mile line, and its equipment, for sale.
Sale of the line would be the ideal remedy. Fresh capital could put the books in the black and keep the operation going. There were several who inquired over the next year, but were unable to acquire the necessary financing. The company struggled through 1978, but when the season ended in October, it was decided not to reopen in '79. Instead permission was requested from the I.C.C. to abandon all service on the line. It was hoped that by selling off the engines, rolling stock, and real estate, the company could recoup their losses and pay off their debts.
The townspeople protested the abandonment. The railroad had attracted a sizeable amount of tourist business, from which the local merchants had benefited Public meetings were held between the. area residents and the State Transportation Authority. The State was asked to purchase the line and lease to a private operator, as they had done in the case of the Concord-Lincoln line.
The state suggested that perhaps a local company could be formed to buy the line. In response to this, in July of 1979, the Wolfeboro Steam Railroad Corp. was formed and stock sold. Again the State was asked to purchase, allowing the new Corporation to lease and operate, The NHTA was sympathetic to the cause, but, their interest was in freight traffic. As the WRR only had two infrequent customers, they were powerless to act. They did, however, offer a sizeable grant toward the purchase of the line by the WSRC, but, because of legal reasons, had to later withdraw the offer.
In the meantime, a group of businessmen from the New York area had become interested in the branch. After long negotiations, the line was sold and the new owners planned to resume operations in the spring of 1980. For the second time, the Wolfeboro line had been saved. The future was looking a little brighter.
During 1979, while the line was idle, the motive power roster was depleted somewhat, #9, the line's first locomotive, had been out of service for some time and was the first to go. It was sold to a scrap dealer, for use in his yard. #10, having been on the WRR through a lease, was returned to the Strasburg R.R. Probably the most important loss was #405, and trailer unit #501. They were sold to the Old Colony & Newport Railroad in R.I.
This left the new owners with only steam locomotive #250. While it is a fine engine, and the prime attraction, it is neither economical nor good for the machine to be run everyday, without leaving time for preventative maintenance. So a second unit must be found. Their search led them to Proctor, Vermont, where they found Otter Valley Railroad's #1, and leased it for the 1980 operating season.
#1 was ex-Boston & Maine #1175, an Aico S-3, built in September of 1950. Since retirement from B&M, in 1965, it had served three owners. Virginia Electric Power, Silcott Railway Equipment Co., and Continental Forest. It was delivered to the WRR on May 24, 1980.
The new company had the crew readying things for their first season in the tourist railroad industry. Trackwork and landscaping had been carried out on several sections of the 12-mile right-of-way. The rolling stock had been gone over and a few pieces received fresh paint. Even #250 was spruced up with paint and lettering. Everyone was very optimistic about the coming year.
The Grand Opening Celebration took place on May 31, 1980. Wolfeboro's radio station, WASR broadcast the festivities, while a Dixieland Band took charge of entertaining the visitors.
The first e/b train left Wolfeboro depot at 11:00 A.M. behind a Boston & Maine GP-7, #1569. 0V #1 had been scheduled to handle this train but, having only recently arrived, had not received its operating papers. #1569, clad in flags and bunting, would handle trains for the first week.
The celebration continued and, at 2:20 P.M., the new President of the WRR stood on the track in front of the steam train. After some words of welcome to the crowd, he raised his hammer and, with a few well placed blows, drove the "Golden Spike".
The crowd cheered amid the ringing of bell and the screams of the whistle as #250 eased the 2:30 e/b out of Wolfeboro. The branch was now embarking on its third life, with high hopes.
The season went well and everyone was pleased to see the trains running again. But before the 1981 season, they met with a major obstacle. Locomotive #250, like all other WRR equipment, had to pass Federal Inspections each year, in order to operate on a railroad licensed by the I.C.C. Before the steam engine could begin the '81 season, it must be retubed.
The crew set about the task of tearing down the Big Baldwin as it was decided to, not only replace the tubes but give her a thorough going over. Many old parts were remade and replaced. By doing this, #250 would be good for many more years of service. In 1982 the super heaters would be replaced.
In 1981, the search for motive power was renewed. 0V #1, having been leased for only one season, was back in Vermont. But the hunt was successful and the stable of Iron Horses was increased by two.
First to arrive on the property was a 45-ton Whitcomb center-cab diesel locomotive. This 1945 vintage switching unit had been built for the U.S. Government, and later sold to the Guyon Pipe Co. at Harrison, NJ. The WRR crew was dispatched to Harrison, where they assisted on loading the engine aboard two trucks. It was offloaded at Fernald enginehouse January 14, 1981, and became WRR #67. Next on the scene was an ex-Boston & Maine S-3 #1186. It was built by Alco in June of 1952 and carried serial number #80052. The engine was delivered to Sanbornville interchange by the B&M's gravel train on February 5, 1981. The number was retained by WRR.
During the early 80s, the railroad gained recognition through film as motion picture and television crews used the line and equipment for various productions. In June of 1980, it was the Center for Television in the Humanities, from Atlanta, GA. They were working on a film called "King of America" for Public Television. It would focus on the lives of Greek immigrants as they crossed America around the turn of the century. The Wolfeboro Rail Road had bee chosen for its vintage equipment and scenic location.
In June of 1981, a film crew from NHK-TV, the Japanese Broadcasting Corp., arrived on the WRR property to begin filming scenes for "Flags Over Portsmouth", a 5 and 1/2 hour program for Japanese television. The film would depict the events surrounding the signing of "The Treaty of Portsmouth" in 1905 between Russia and Japan. Also in '81, an independent film crew used locomotive #250 to film a study of steam power. A portion of this production would be shown as an exhibit at the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville, TN.
#250 was even featured in a locally produced stereo record album. This unique recording captured the sounds of the 1926 Baldwin as she went about her daily chores on the branch. Hisses, groans, bells and whistles, along with all the other sounds that only a steam locomotive can make, were preserved for future generations. The little railroad was getting a taste of stardom!
During the last few years, the Wolfeboro has extended their range of activities. For eating delights, visitors may board one of several "Sunset Dinner Specials", where a variety of cuisine, from lobster clam bakes to chicken barbecue, is offered. Some dinners are even served up with live music and dancing.
For a lighter mid-day treat, one can visit the "Chew Chew Station", in Wakefield. Here the variety ranges from the crew favorite to the roundhouse special, grilled and deli sandwiches, salads and dessert. A unique eating experience. Special events now include several annual happenings. Each August 19th, the WRR celebrates its birthday, aided by the local Railroad Club. Late spring brings out the runners for the "Race The Iron Horse" road race. This 6.5 mile course pits the runners against the mighty #250, and the outcome is always a surprise.
The Labor Day Weekend "Wild West Train Robbery" had become a must with young and old alike. Masked outlaws hurry to collect for Muscular Dystrophy from eager passengers as the Sheriff and his posse bear down on the fleeing villains. Proceeds from this event go to local and national charities.
In the 112 years of existence of the Wolfeboro Rail Road, its patrons have seen many changes. The dream of a little town came true on that August day in 1872, when the first train began a chapter in the history or Wolfeboro. The railroad was one of the prom factors in building the town into the summer resort it is today. Twice the line has fought for its life and won, each time getting a little stronger