In the Great North Woods there were towns that sprung up overnight as “company towns” for the logging and forestry industries. And so they died as quickly as they sprung up. A large part of the Great North Woods became the White Mountains National Forest in 1918, in three non-contiguous areas. There are more than 780,000 acres of protected land in the National Forest, and a large section of land is also New Hampshire or Maine State parkland. These lands became protected areas due to the horrific clear cutting, erosion, large forest fires, and poor land management that occurred at the end of the nineteenth century- just about the same time someone in my family tree was born in Zealand, New Hampshire.
In 1884 the Zealand Valley Railroad ran into the heart of the White Mountain National Forest area, and suddenly a million acres of virgin forest was available for lumber. Around these lumber areas grew company towns, a paternal system of control similar to the textile mill system seen in the Merrimack River valley. The homes, the stores, hotels, railroads and even the hospitals were run by the lumber company of James E. Henry in Lincoln, Fabyans (another ghost town) and Zealand. There were similar towns in Conway and other parts of the Great North Woods. There were strict rules imposed by the lumber companies such as “Any person found throwing food or making unnecessary and loud talk at the tables will be fined” [The Story of Mount Washington, by F. Allen Burt, Hanover, NH, 1974] .
In its heyday 53 million feet of timber were floated down the Connecticut River. Paper production became a major industry in northern New Hampshire. [New Hampshire: Crosscurrents in its Development, by Nancy Coffey Hefferman and Ann Page Stecker, University Press of New England, Lebanon, NH, 2004, page 162] Unfortunately, the number of paper mills has dwindled in the past dozen years, and now tourism reigns in the Great North Woods as the number one industry. The White Mountains National Forest is now one of the most visited parks in the eastern United States. Only hikers can visit Zealand Notch. There are no longer any roads to Zealand, and the Zealand hiking trail follows the path of the old logging train. An area that had been laid waste by fires in 1888 and 1903 is now again hardwood forest.
Note: One member of my family tree who lived in Zealand, New Hampshire is Mabel Boyle, daughter of James Boyle and Catherine McFarlin, born in Zealand on 22 July 1881, d. 25 March 1975 in Franconia, New Hampshire; married on 3 September 1923 to Oscar Sumner Carroll, son of Leslie Carroll and Elnora Mary Wilkinson. Mr. Boyle was found in the 1880 census record in Carroll, New Hampshire, and it lists him as being born in Canada, with his wife and seven children.
|The Zealand Trail|
Photo by Mike Kautz, National Geographic Society, 2007
For more information:
The Appalachian Mountain Club http://www.outdoors.org/
Chronicles of the White Mountains by Frederick Wilkinson Chadbourne, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1916.
J. E. Henry’s Logging Railroads: The History of the East Branch & Lincoln and Zealand Valley Railroads, by Bill Gove, Bondcliff Books, 1998 [I couldn’t locate a copy of this book at a library nor to view at Google books, but it is on Amazon.com as a used book ]
http://www.logginginlincoln.com/ Bill Gove’s website (Gove is a retired forester who has written three books on New Hampshire’s logging railroads) see the link http://www.logginginlincoln.com/Zealand%20Gove%20Gallery/Zealand%20and%20the%20Zealand%20Valley%20Railroad/ for photos and maps of the Zealand logging railroad http://www.logginginlincoln.com/Page.html has a page about J. E. Henry and his company towns.
http://freepages.history.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~gtusa/usa/nh.htm A guide to NH “Ghost Towns” (most are associated with logging camps and company towns)
Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo