By: Bethany Bryant, Interpretive Ranger at Bear Brook State Park
Since coming to Bear Brook State Park in late April, I have enjoyed exploring the many trails, ponds, and marshes that this beautiful park has to offer. However, what fascinated me most of all is the historic sites that can be found all over this gem of a park. Magnificent rock formations line many the trails but a closer look at some of these will reveal some sites of long past. If you dig deep into the lush forest of Bear Brook you are bound to find exquisite remnants of old farmhouses, wells and bridges. Not far off Podunk Road, you can find old root cellar and wells that have been taken over with emerald mosses and lichen.
Root cellars served the task of preserving food before refrigerators. In the summer months, cellars would keep food cool so that it didn’t spoil. In the winter, cellars would keep food from freezing. Having a root cellar was a vital part of a successful farm back in the 1700 and 1800’s. If you are lucky enough to find a root cellar, odds are there is a well nearby. Wells and root cellars took enormous amounts of time and effort to build especially during a time when there were very few tools to assist with the lifting of stones. What we see today is the result of several years of hard work of early farmers and more than likely a community effort.
There is always something new to find at Bear Brook. While each of these beautiful spots is spectacular in their own right my favorite place is without a doubt the old bridge off of snowmobile trail.
This old road traveled south to Candia. Under this bridge bubbles the beautiful Bear Brook for which the park is named. The remains of this bridge are now home to ferns, saplings, and all kinds of creepy crawlies. Here you can sit peacefully on a fallen log or boulder and listen to the melodious sound of a bubbling brook for hours without being disturbed. If you enjoy finding hidden treasures like this, get to know your local park staff; they are extremely knowledgeable and happy to help you with your next quest. Also keep in mind that when you come upon historic sites that these are place to be respected and observed but not disturbed. Be safe, happy trails!