Gaut Gurley or The Trappers Of Umbagog


One day last fall Richard E. Dill–pictured here–a 77-year-old attorney from Island Pond, Vermont, had an opportunity to see northern New Hampshire as few of us do nowadays. Dill, a lifelong railroad buff, hopped a freight train from his home in Island Pond and rode the rails to Lewiston Junction, Maine, some 120 miles away. After a day’s break, he returned over the same track, taking some fine photos along the way. This month we publish his “hobo diary” account of his rail excursion. It offers insight into just what rail crews encounter in their efforts to keep freight moving. For the author, it was a chance to experience the thrill of the open track.

As I recall from time to time my conversations with the late J. C. Kenneth Poore, I realize now that they accorded me a direct window to the early days of our region. Poore was born in Stewartstown in 1885 and his family came to the Upper Coos when it was a wild and wooley place. It was those times which Daniel Pierce Thompson captured in his book, Gaut Gurley; or The Trappers Of Umbagog, first published in 1857. I first heard about Gaut Gurley from “Mr. Poore,” as I always called him. He had read the book as a youth and encouraged me to read it for a pretty realistic view of what life was like in the early days of the North Country. The problem was he didn’t have a copy. Recently, Joan Cowan of the Canaan Historical Society loaned us a copy. The result is this month’s “Spotlight” piece. Our thanks to the society for making this historic column available to us and for allowing me a chance to read the book after so many years of searching for a copy.

We continue our motor trip through the region circa 1930 thanks to a pictorial brochure which is serialized in our “Archival” department. In our latest installment, we visit Pittsburg, Colebrook and Dixville Notch. The original publication of this tourist brochure 70 years ago came as Colebrook was making its first serious pitch for the tourist market.

Donna has often written in these pages about Lancaster’s Col. Edward Cross, whose colorful career ended with his death at the Battle of Gettysburg. This month she revisits one of her favorite subjects by reviewing a new book about Col. Cross and the Fighting Fifth Regiment of New Hampshire. Through excerpts from the book, what emerges is a look at the man who has become a legendary figure. Penned by Mike Pride and Mark Travis of the Concord Monitor, it breathes new life into Cross, the man.

The impact of the substantial amount of snow which fell during the winter of 2000-2001 made headlines all over the north. Old barn roofs collapsed and the sales of roof rakes soared. One casualty of the piling snow was the marquee of the Colonial Theatre in Bethlehem. Our thanks to photographer Paul Lister, a Bethlehem resident and history buff, for rushing out to get a picture for our “News Briefs” at a moment’s notice late last month.

Read our next entry here.

Charles J. Jordan