Easy. Horseback riding, hiking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, biking. Kid friendly.

Part of the Harris Center super sanctuary.

Plenty of parking. Even horse trailer turn around for those who need it. I am great at backing up my rig, she says proudly.

Be sure and check out the trestle foundations on Jacquith. The rail line was finished in 1878. Impressive.

I was lucky to have joined a Harris Center group for a tour. I highly recommend you hop on some of these, you will learn so much! http://harriscenter.org. Our tour guides were Brett Thelen and Jeremy Wilson. Brett gave us an incredible insight on efts. (more later) and Jeremy had marvelous stories about the history of rail in NH.

The trail is a straight shot for 1.7 miles, with only a slight up hill at the beginning.

Jeremy quizzed us. Why would there be such an incline, and why are the abutments so tall? Stop and take a look when you get on the trail.

Turns out, they brought gravel by train from Marlborough, and extended the line with each dump of gravel to fill grade to trestle. Years later, the rail line had closed, and back in the 50s the absentee landowner was robbed. Someone came and stole ALL the gravel that had been there! Unlike some rail lines, these were owned by individuals not by the state or the railroad. In fact, the Harris Center had to close 6 land deals to open up this trail!

As you hike rail trails in the area, keep in mind that a lot of these rail lines cut through what had been cattle or sheep grazing fields. Tunnels were made to allow livestock to pass underneath. There is one such bridge on this trail. Which, for some reason, I missed photographing but will add later. aarrgghh.

I guess I was concentrating on the swiss cheese tree instead.

Along this section there are some huge rock piles. Home I am sure to some native animals.

Train markers still stand vigilant along the line.

We were blessed with some incredible guides, these girls were fantastic and saved many little lives along the way.

Along with their little sister, they made sure we didn’t step on any efts, or slugs.

Brett gave us an in-depth look into the lives of efts and salamanders. They can live from 1-5 years as efts, and up to 20-30 years as salamanders! A fascinating life evolution. You can learn more from her at thelen@harriscenter.com. (hope she doesn’t mind my plugging her knowledge.

There are still some railroad ties along this section. Fortunately they are not treated so environmentally friendly and eventually will disappear. It is easy to get around them.

The trail passes alongside Merrill’s Marsh. Home to Great Blue Herons and many other aquatic birds. “and mosquitos too.”

We soon came upon the bridge over Jacquith brook. There is a great story of how it came to be and of the bridge fire back in the 1920’s. Alan Rumrill , Historical Society of Cheshire County, gave me some further information. Director@hsccnh.org

On Friday July 26, 1918 the Keene to Boston train on that line approached the Jacquith Brook Trestle to find it on fire.  The train could not stop before crossing the bridge.  The tracks had been warped by the fire and the engine dropped off the rails and onto the deck of the bridge.  The bridge held and the engine, tender and first car bumped across the bridge before the engine sank in the sand on the opposite side and toppled on its side.  All of the train cars caught fire and burned.  The engine crew was not injured and all 25 passengers managed to get off the train safely.  The railroad crews worked around the clock through the weekend, rebuilding the bridge and laying new track, so that the line was back in service Monday morning.

Imagine being an engineer, you are steaming along the tracks toward Manchester when all of the sudden there in front of you rise flames. Flames on the bridge! There was naught to do.

The current bridge had been a car bridge in Roxbury, rescued fortuitously in 1930 by Steve Lindsey at a cost of $200. it was brought in by crane, and while the Harris Center tried to keep construction quiet, a crowd did manage to develop. A tale worth retrieving from Brett and Jeremy to be sure. Jeremy Wilson, wilson@harriscenter.org, Brett Thelen, thelen@harriscenter.org, Or, contact me. Stories well worth hearing.

Brett mentioned that usually in August the Cardinal flowers are prolific as well as the little white asters. Unfortunately, most were gone by the time we came by. Another reason to go back next summer.

Jeremy gave us a lesson on coal. Evidence of the old coal fired engines still exist on the rails.

I carried on past the bridge to the end on the “other” Jacquith Rd.

The rest of the group had time constrictions. Thankfully, I did not. So I bid them adieu.

Beyond the bridge the rail trail is a little less traveled. It also had more rocks along the way.

I found the slices in these rocks intriguing. From blasting, or just ice damage?

Some impressive erratics, perhaps someone’s cozy home?

As you approach the “other” Jacquith road, signs of “civilization” begin to show.

Remnant of by gone years. At least this oil can is disintegrating unlike modern oil in plastic.
And here, to subject you to my artwork, yet again. Please do not use as a trail map. Just a guide.

Your comments are welcome. Contact Miles at stahmann@harriscenter.org or (603) 525-3394. Or, me, mikiclementscollier@gmail.com
These trails — and all of the Harris Center’s work — are made possible through the support of donors like
you: harriscenter.org/donate.

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