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Granite Quarry at the Ledges
Hudson residents in many neighborhoods have access to trail systems following along and adjacent to cleared spaces beneath power transmission lines. These have been used for decades by children on adventures, pleasure hikers and off-roaders (legally and otherwise.) There is a particular spot where a combination of power lines, cow paths, and discontinued routes from older times branch out from a century-old granite quarry the locals call “The Ledges”.
The Ledges are located in the woods northeast beyond Ledge Rd, but trail access was cut off by development long ago. It is well off the power line trails from the substation at the end of Power St. (road gated) where these transmission towers head off in multiple directions to bring electricity to the region. A trail, once a road, from Ledge Rd. to Power St. is in living memory of a few locals. The quarry as it remains today is hard to conceive a more thrilling, if unsafe, playground for youngsters. Stone steps for scrambling up and down 20 feet or more, natural and man-made features inspire the imagination into a pretend house, or a hero’s hideout. A frog pond at the base of a cliff where throughout the spring one can see eggs become tadpoles, then frogs year after year.
Modern quarry operations cleave monstrous slabs of granite with house-sized chainsaws, and leave tall, smooth cliffs. When in operation from the1800s until the beginning of the 20th century, the technology involved a series of holes likely by steam drill, then splitting off large pieces with what’s known as “feather and wedge”. Of course explosives were also used, scattering large chunks all to be carried away by wagon. Their destination or ultimate use is unfortunately unknown. Granite was and remains a sought-after commodity primarily for building. Foundations to entire structures, seawalls, retaining walls as well as monuments and markers. In viewing, one can see The Ledges was a small operation with its output probably used up locally. What remains are irregular stair-step remnants of stone in an amphitheater arrangement.
In searching for its history, not a whole lot remains. The Historical Society turned its attention here in response to an inquiry concerning a turn of the century map. As is shown below, when operating, the quarry was referred to as ”Lappre’s Ledge” (1889), then later (1908) “Mcqueston property – Duncklee’s Ledge”. What follows are largely verbatim reported accounts from the Nashua Telegraph. These concern the quarry and surrounding areas, (minimally edited to preserve the character of the original accounts). Excerpts in Italics, Warning: There are some graphic descriptions of accidents:
Jun 6, 1889 – Hudson – NH – Explosion – Lappre’s Ledge -A man in the act of discharging a blast when a gust of wind blew some of the loose powder upon the fuse and a premature explosion followed. The man with a ton or more of fragments stone, was thrown more than 20 feet into the air. He fell within a few feet of the place where he was standing at the time of the discharge, and strange to say, was not killed. These injuries, however, were of a very serious character. His face badly burned and blistered is a eye so badly injured that the doctor feared he will lose it. His left leg and arm were badly burned and blistered, and the skin pierced and torn by stone. In fact, pieces of stone forced into his leg in several places. Besides this, this watch, which stop at 10:40 AM is rendered worthless, and his clothes torn and set on fire. The man was brought to his home in Nashua where he was attended by a doctor who had no occasion for alarm concerning the patient’s recovery.
Apr 11, 1894 – Hudson – NH – Wagon accident – Ledge Road – a man was drawing stone from the ledge and loaded his wagon and was on the way out in route to Nashua. The road out of the pit was steep up the hill. His wagon jumped over a large stone and he was thrown from the wagon. He fell under the wheels and died on the scene.
Nov 14, 1907 – Hudson – NH – Explosion with injury – A man working at the LP Dunklee ledge suffered numerous fractures, burns and cuts when he was placing explosives to clear rock and a secondary explosion took place. He died from his injuries 8 days later.
Apr 11, 1908 – Hudson – NH – Large brush fire – Mcqueston property – Duncklee’s Ledge – The fire was started by brush fire being burned and was spread by the wind. Ten acres were burned before the fire was controlled around noon. At 2pm the flames again reignited and were spreading fast. Over 100 acres burned being the largest fire in (town) history up to that time. Dec 1, 1962 – Hudson – NH – House fire – Ledge Road -Firefighters responded to the vacant unoccupied home and they when arrived heavy fire was showing from the small building. Before crews could bring the blaze under control the home was destroyed.END Excerpt
This last item, the house fire was unique in that its location was not on a conventional street, rather a lot immediately adjacent to the quarry. It was inhabited by a reclusive woman until 1959 and abandoned a few years before it burned. As it turned out, this woman owned the quarry site and a considerable amount of the associated land which she sold when she vacated. First hand accounts describe the building as “a shanty” with one witness claiming it was built around a large boulder up through the floor. Plausible speculation is that it was the field office during the quarry’s operation (where a boulder might only make sense). A brief mention in the Dec. 3 ’62 Telegraph states the cause as arson. Ample land in a central area of town can only remain untouched for so long. In the 1980s, the quarry site and surroundings combined for a land sale where over one hundred homes stand today. Preservation efforts are fortunately unnecessary for the Ledges remaining rugged stone in the Granite State.
Written by Steve Kopiski. Acknowledgements for research assistance to Ruth Parker, Peter Lindsay and Dave Morin; (HFD Call Records from the Nashua Telegraph.)
Natural Descent of the Merrimack River
Hudson’s western boundary is marked by a delightful section of the Merrimack River; stretching from Litchfield on the north, some 6.5 miles south to the state line with Ma. River crossings to Nashua occur at the Sagamore Bridge at the south near Walmart and at the Taylor’s Falls Bridge and Veterans Memorial Bridge near the Nashua River. There has been a Taylor’s Falls Bridge in this area since 1811. Initially a wooden toll bridge, then an iron bridge, a concrete bridge, and now the southern bridge of the twin span which dates to the 1970’s. So, the question is: Where were the Taylor Falls and what became of them?
The Pawtucket Falls in the Merrimack River at Lowell, MA was an important fishing ground for the Pennacook Indians during the pre-colonial times. “Pawtucket” is an Algonkian word meaning “at the falls in the river”. These falls were a barrier to commercial travel along the river to the early settlers, leading to the construction of the canal in the late 1700’s. In order to maximize the hydro-power and control the flow to the canal, a dam was built at the top of the falls in 1820 and expanded in 1840. The final structure exists in much to same form today, consisting of a stone dam topped with five foot wooded flash boards, This dam had the effect of raising the level of the river some 8 feet near the dam to 4 feet as far north as Cromwell Falls in Merrimack; eliminating any falls or rapids in the river from Lowell to Litchfield/Merrimack.
Besides the Pawtucket Falls there were three sets of rapids or waterfalls of significance to the early settlers; The Wicasuck Falls in Tyngsboro, the Taylor’s Falls in Hudson, and Cromwell’s Falls in Merrimack. The building of the Pawtucket Dam displaced each of these falls.
The Wicasuck Falls were about 4 miles north of Pawtucket where the river swept around a considerable island of the same name. This offered good fishing for the Indians and early settlers. The island played a significant part during King Philip’s War when Captain Jonathan Tyng “overlooked” a party of praying Indians that lived on this island for some 10 years thus keeping them out of the strife. In consideration of this the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony granted this island to him in December 1693, It became known as Tyng’s Inland.
A series of rapids known as Taylor’s Falls were located some 8 miles north of Tyng’s Island and one mile south of the junction of the Nashua and the Merrimack Rivers which is located just north of the Taylor’s Falls Bridge; placing them a little over 1/2 mile below the bridge. John Taylor built a garrison on that part of the Joseph Hills grant that was deeded to Gershom Hills and later the Charles W. Spalding farm. This garrison was built behind the house toward the river. The Spalding farm house is now the site of Continental Academie on Derry Road. Little is known of this John Taylor except that the Taylor’s falls were most likely named for him and clearly the Taylor’s Falls Bridge was name for the falls.
Joseph Cromwell was an early fur trader in Old Dunstable on the Merrimack side of the river. The site of his trading post is identified by a marker between the Anheuser-Bush brewery and the Clydesdale Hamblet in Merrimack. Cromwell Falls was visited by Henry David Thorreau and his brother John in September 1839 and this visit chronicled in his book “A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers”. In this book he stated that the Cromwell Falls were the first falls they met while traveling on the Merrimack; thus indicating that the river level had been raised by that date.
Today the smooth surface of the Merrimack gives no indication of the underlaying rapids and falls were eliminated between Pawtuck and Cromwell Falls. Most of the information in this brief article is from Webster’s History of Hudson. The photo of the Taylor’s Falls bridge in moonlight is from a post card within the collection of the Hudson Historical Society. Researched and written by Ruth Parker. This story was printed in the Nashua Telegraph April 5, 2020.
The Chalifoux/William Winn House
Many remember this house as the home at Rose Chalifoux and Sons Farm; and later the home of Floreda Chalifoux. John B. and Rose (Delisle) Chalifoux and their family of two sons (Levi and Ernest) and one daughter, Floreda lived in Drewsville, NH an unincorporated community within Walpole, NH when John was killed in a lumber accident. In 1921 Rose and her oldest son Levi (age 21) purchased the farm of Bernard Ready in Hudson, NH. According to the deed of purchase this included land and buildings plus all the cattle, tools, and horses on the farm. The family them moved to Hudson and took on the operation of the farm; at the time Levi was 21, Ernest 17, and their sister Floreda was 18.
Brothers Levi and Ernest worked to improve and expand the dairy farm from that time until the mid 1970’s. In it’s prime the operation consisted of 60 Jersey Cows. Originally milking was a hand process; straining the milk into 20 quart jugs, water cooled on the premises until they were picked up by Descheaux Brothers of Dracut for processing. As times progressed electric milking machines were used and ultimately in the 1960’s a bulk tank was installed for storing and cooling the milk. Levi and Ernest were very acting in Hudson Grange; serving as officers locally, at the county, and state level. They displayed some of their prized Jersey cows at the Hillsborough County Fair. In 1949 they were recognized by “Look” magazine when they won the Golden Cup Award for one of their Jersey cows.
Levi married a Hudson girl, Mildred Shunaman, whose family operated a farm on Musquash Road. Soon after their marriage in 1939 they built a house a short distance from the farm home on Chalifoux Road. They had two daughters, Laura and Margery, both attending Hudson schools and graduating from Alvirne. Laura graduated from UNH with a biology degree. She was employed in the medical research field for many years during which time she authored/coauthored many scientific papers and book chapters. Even from her childhood she was a lover of animals. Laura passed in September 2016 and was laid to rest in St. Peter’s Cemetery in Walpole, NH with her parents and family. Margery married Walter Coomes, JR in Februaray 1969 and they have a family of one son and a daughter. They reside in Belchertown, MA. Mildred Chalifoux is remembered by many as their elementary school teacher in Hudson.
Levi married Ethel Morris of Pelham in October 1947. They likewise moved into their own home adjacent to the old homestead. Ethel, like her sister-in-law, was an elementary school teacher in the Pelham School District.
I had the pleasure of meeting with Dick Hanlon, present owner of this house and a great nephew Ernest and Ethel Chalifoux. Dick fondly recalls driving one of their grey Ford tractors at an early age as he helped his uncles cut, dry, rake , and bail hay from their fields to store for winter feed for their dairy cows. In addition to their own fields, they would harvest the hay from the Luther Pollard and Ben Morgan farms along Lowell Road. Whenever they had too many bails to store in their own facility the used space at the Lebouf barn on River Road.
In the late 1970 the Chalifoux farm was leased to Jack Allen of Walpole, NH for 5 years. During this time he continued the dairy operation and added strawberry fields. Many remember visiting Alllen’s Strawberries to ‘pick your own’ berries. By 1982 Jack returned to the Walpole area and the Jersey stock was sold. The farmhouse was subdivided from the farm land. The farm land was then sold to Sanders Associates (now BAE Systems).
Fromt the earlier history of this house we learn that in 1892 it was on a portion of the Sylvanus Winn Farm. Upon his death it was purchased by Clarence and George Muldoon of Pelham who later sold to Bernard Ready of Lowell who in 1921 sold to the Chalifoux family; hence the present day name for the road. Looking at the 1858 Chace map we see this house was in the family of Timothy Ford who had ownership until 1880 when it transferred to Sylvanus Winn.
In 1942 this house was included in a booklet written by the Hudson Fortnightly Club entitled “NH Homes Built Prior to 1842” From this booklet and research at the Registry of Deeds we know that William Winn and his brother Isaac took possession of this place about 1830. William Winn was born 1797 in Hudson and married Pirsis Gildore of Manchester in 1830. Pirsis passed in 1843 and one year later William sold the place to Timothy Ford and moved to Pelham.
A search at the Registry of Deeds tells me the previous owner, and the earliest I have found, was John Pollard. A few years prior to 1830 he had mortgaged the place to Moses Greeley, Jr. This mortgage was assigned to William and Isaac Winn in 1830. As a result of some judgements against Mr. Pollard the property was seized by the sheriff to satisfy those obligations. By April of that year a sheriff’s deed transferred the property to William Winn.
A few other facts of interest. In early deeds what is now Chalifoux Road was called the Ferry Road. According to Kimball Webster and his History of Hudson, NH a ferry at the south end of town was established by Jonathan Hardy who was assessed here in 1748. This ferry was later known as Pollard’s Ferry and was likely operated by Capt. John Pollard son of John Sr.
I hesitate to give a build date for this house. We do know that a house existed on this premise in 1830 and also while John and Elizabeth Pollard resided here. This house has a number of features we find in houses of the mid to late1700’s. There is a center chimney with 3 fireplaces on the first floor; a large one for the kitchen and smaller ones for each of the living and dining rooms. It is a 1 1/2 story house with 2 bedrooms on the second floor. The windows were narrow and tall with 4 panes of glass (2 over 2) in each. Some rooms had ‘gunstock corners’. This feature shows a part of the corner post exposed to the interior of house; resembling the stock of a gun; hence the name. The sheething board were wide and and rough. The rear wall was a double wall stuffed with sawdust for insulation.
If one were to build a list of Hudson houses built prior to 1800, the William Winn house would be included. In fact this is clearly one of the oldest in our town. Researched and written by Ruth M. Parker.
“Camel’s Hump” – A Favorite Picnic Spot
The Senter Homestead on Old Derry Road
Do you have memories of the Nadeau Dairy Farm at 98 Old Derry Road? Perhaps you stopped by and visited the cows; taking pictures while they grazed in the field or lay resting while they chewed their cud to take digestion to the next level!! Perhaps you drove past and saw the tractor and hay baler getting the crop ready for winter storage. One of my memories is intentionally driving past the farm near Halloween to see the numerous Jack-O-Lanterns positioned along the side of the road, gazing out of a barn window, or perched and lighted from the top of the blue silo. This was a local tradition prepared for us by the Nadeau family with help from friends and neighbors.
This four generation dairy farm had it’s beginning in 1902 when Joseph Lambert and his wife Mary were living in Nashua but looking to move to a dairy farm. In July of that year they purchased this home and farm from the heirs of Jackson Greeley. Joseph ran a milk route into Nashua. He later added chickens and pigs with the remainder of the farm was used for grazing and growing feed for the cows.
Joseph and Mary raised a family of six. Their daughter, Marion, married Emery Henry Nadeau in 1935. They lived on and worked the farm with her parents; purchasing from them in 1941. For another two generations and most of 70 years the farm continued; first with Marion’s son Emery E. and later with her grandson, Emery E.,Jr. The senior Emery E. was responsible for the day to day operations of the farm since the age of 14 when his dad, Emery Henry, took a job in Nashua. By 1961 Emery E. and Shirley (Craig) were married. They raised a family of 3 children; Lori, Emery E. Jr, and Elizabeth. The younger Emery joined the family business upon graduation from Alvirne High School in 1982.
By 1995 Emery E. then age 50 was working a herd of 75 milkers which produced about 205 gallons a day!! The electronic milking machines delivered the milk directly into a storage tank where it was cooled and kept at temperature until drained by a milk hauling truck in the small hours of the following morning. At that time this farm was the last commercial dairy farm in Hudson with the exception of the farm in operation at Alvirne High School. Working the farm was hard work which was done by the entire family with help from neighbors during haying and harvest time.
The Lambert/Nadeau farm operated for nearly 100 years; from 1902 until 2000. Within a short time machinery, livestock, and property were sold. The homestead and farm buildings on the south side of the road were purchased by Keven Slattery. Using much of the old farm buildings it is the location of Nadeau Industrial Park. The farmhouse has had many improvements and is now a 2-unit rental. The acreage on the north side of the road is under development as Senter Estates.
In 2009, following his avocation for the dairy farm, the younger Emery was hired as the Alvirne Farm Manager. His mother, Shirley remains active; working at Checkers Restaurant within the culinary department of Alvirne. This past month, as part of the Second Annual Historical Society Gala, Emery Nadeau, his mother Shirley, sisters Lori and Elizabeth and their families were awarded the Community Service Award for their work to make the Alvirne School Farm a valued resource in Hudson.
The house at 98 Old Derry dates to 1793. Jackson Greeley, the youngest son of Moses and Mary (Darby) Greeley was born in Hudson November 1815. Moses Greeley was born in Haverhill, MA in 1787. By 1793 he had moved to Nottingham West and was a single father with two young daughters. His first wife, Mary Greeley, had recently passed, and he was (or soon would be) married to Mary Darby. It was Moses Greeley who was responsible for building this farmhouse. He and his wife Mary had 10 children of their own; plus Moses’ daughters from his first marriage. Moses lived in this farmhouse until his death in 1848 at the age of 83. Ownership of the farm passed to Jackson Greeley who likewise resided here until his passing in 1894. It has been said that this home was used as a tavern because of the location on the roadway between Nashua and Derry. This may have been the case but, based upon what I have read to date, I cannot state it as a fact .
H. E. Smith and Sons Farm Stand C1980
The House at 26 Lawrence Road
This house at 26 Lawrence Road is remembered by many, including myself, as the home of Hazel and Walter McInnis and their daughter Winnie. The McInnis family purchased this farm in August 1944 from the family of Edward Senneville. For many years Walter McInnis was a dairy farmer; using the brook located across from his barn on Lawrence Road to water his cows when the farm well was low. Until the new Route 111 was constructed in the middle 1960’s, this was the state road and traffic along the road was often halted while approximately 12 cows crossed the road to get water from the brook! Mr. McInnis passed in 1969. Mrs. McInnis and Winnie lived here until the farm was sold in August 1982 to The Marcum Family.
In 1858 this was the home of Simeon Robinson, Jr. and by 1892 it was the home of his son Frank. Simeon, Jr. was born in March 1821 and by the age of 23 he was a single father and a widower. His first wife, Elizabeth, passed away in 1844 leaving him with their 4 year old son, Lucius. In 1848, Simeon, Jr married Charlotte Glidden. Their oldest son, Frank, was born in 1850. Upon the death of Simeon Jr. in 1897, the farm passed to his son Frank. It was sold in Oct 1924 to Warren Gilcrest by Frank’s widow, Alecia, and two daughters , Charlotte and Annette. Gilcrest owned the place until 1942 when it was sold to the Senneville family.
Attached are two photos of this house. The earlier photo was taken about 1893 . Based upon the ages of Simeon, Jr and members of the Frank Robinson family at that time period, the people in this photo are likely Frank’s wife Alecia, his father Simeon, Jr, Frank himself, and Frank’s young daughters Charlotte and Annette. The recent photo shows the house as it looks today and is the photo of records with the Town of Hudson.
The Robinson Family moved into this part of Hudson (then Londonderry) in 1763 when Peter Robinson, Simeon Jr’s grandfather, purchased a farm of about 150 acres from Elisha and Mary Cummings of Londonderry. Peter moved here by 1768 with two adult sons, Simeon and Douglas, plus his second wife and their young family. Douglas removed to what is now Hancock, NH. Simeon remained in this area and married first Susannah Tarbox. The descendants of Simeon and Susannah settled on Peter’s farm. This farm, now at 11 Old Robinson Road, remains in the family line from Simeon and Susannah. After the death of Susannah in 1818, Simeon married a second time to a widow, Susan (Wyman) Tarbox. They had one son, Simeon, Jr. who ultimately settled at what is now 26 Lawrence Road.
Robinson/Parker Homestead 1907