Flat Mountain Pond and a hike through history

view across Flat Mountain Pond to Whiteface Mountain

View across Flat Mountain Pond to Whiteface Mountain

Gordon DuBois 

In the early Twentieth Century, New Hampshire's White Mountains were laced with logging railroads. From Berlin to Plymouth, the rail lines were crowded with trains, hauling thousands of logs and pulpwood, from deep within the forest to mills around the Granite State. Over a dozen logging railroad companies and hundreds of miles of tracks formed a web of rail beds that are still visible today. Logging railroads such as the Saco Valley, Wild River, Zealand Valley, Success Pond, Rocky Branch and Sawyer River ran through New Hampshire's mountain country. The best known and largest of these companies was the East Branch and Lincoln which operated from 1892 to 1947. Rail beds were laid through the rich stands of virgin forests in the Pemigewasset wilderness. The company, located in Lincoln, was owned by the lumber baron J.E. Henry and his sons. As with many of these now abandoned rail lines, they no longer carry a Shay locomotive, log cars and loggers, but have become walking, biking and hiking trails that now take outdoor enthusiasts deep into the forest of northern New Hampshire.

Last week I decided to hike the one of the now abandoned rail beds of the Beebe River Railroad. This rail bed actually starts in Holderness, and winds its way along the Beebe River, continuing through a valley south of Sandwich Mountain and then climbing into the Flat Mountain Pond region, ending at the base of Whiteface Mountain. Along the route of the rail bed can be found reminders of a bygone era, when lumber was king: log rail ties, clearings where lumber camps once stood, rusty bed frames, parts of cook stoves, saw blades and much more.

The Beebe River Rail Road was started in 1917 and completed in 1921. It was owned and operated by the Woodstock Lumber Company and the Parker Young Company. The company not only built the rail line into the wilderness and an accompanying saw mill, but also constructed a village with homes for its workers, a hotel, company store, boarding house and even a movie theater. Trees harvested from the forest were turned into stock for piano manufacture, lumber and other products. Poorer grade logs were shipped to the Lincoln Paper Mill. In 1924, the Draper Company purchased all the holdings for the manufacture of bobbins used in the cotton and woolen mills to the south. At its peak, the mill produced 100,000 bobbins per day and employed up to 350 people. Today you can still visit the small village of Beebe River off Route 175 in Campton and see the abandoned mill, mill pond and general store. It's truly a unique experience.

When I planned this hike I was assuming spring would be well underway, but thanks to Mother Nature we were hit by a snow storm that dumped several inches of wet snow throughout portions of Northern New England. However, I wanted to keep to my plan and I invited a couple of hiking friends with me, Steve Zimmer and Ken Robichaud. Of course Reuben was assuming he would also join me, as he always does. The plan was to hike the Bennett Street Trail, to the Flat Mountain Pond Trail and then bushwhack into abandoned logging camps via the network of rail beds that were laid in the beginning of the 1900s. We would then continue on the Flat Mountain Pond Trail that would take us to our waiting car at the White Face Intervale. As our hike began at the trail head we encountered one of the first signs of spring: a mass of Trout Lilies and Purple Trillium sprouting up through the snow, ready to unfold their beautiful flowers. My spirit was uplifted, knowing that the snow wouldn't be around very long and we were heading towards summer.

The gradual incline of the trail followed along the bank of Pond Brook. Here we encountered roaring cascades with numerous deep pools, ideal for a dip on a hot summer day. This however wasn't summer, so we quickly moved along to the junction with the Flat Mountain Pond Trail and the Beebe River rail bed, where the railroad ties are still visible. The hike from this point forward was a gradual climb along the road bed into the Flat Mountain Pond valley, so called because the pond lies between two mountains, North and South Flat Mountain. At the south end of the pond are several campsites along with a lean-to that overlooks the pond, Lost Pass and South Tripyramid Mountain. This is a picturesque setting that would make for a great overnight camping experience. It was here that we took a break for lunch. A stiff cold breeze blew across the pond, but the bright sun warmed our faces.

Following lunch we made our way along a rough trail high above the pond. We could look down and see the old railroad ties lying underwater where they once guided logging trains up and down the mountain. The trail brought us to the north end of the pond and we followed barely visible road beds that took us to a logging camp, probably abandoned in the early 1940s. The rails were torn up at that time and used to manufacture armaments for the war effort. At one site there was a plethora of bed frames, cooking gear, saw blades, an old cook stove and other effects that were a part of everyday life of the loggers and the logging camp, where they once lived, months at a time. There were additional camps that we would have loved to visit, including the Hedge Hog camp located at the base of Whiteface Mountain, but it involved a difficult bushwhack of over a mile. We decided that we needed to begin the five mile hike down the Flat Mt. Pond Trail to our waiting vehicle at the Whiteface Intervale.

This intermediate hike of ten miles is wonderful for anyone who wants to relish in the beauty of a mountain stream, a scenic pond, breathtaking vistas and explore the history of the logging industry and the associated railroads that once dominated this state's economy. For more information on this trail, check out the AMC Guide. Also, there are several good books on logging railroads in the state including, Logging Railroads of the White Mountains, by C. Francis Belchert, and Logging Railroads of New Hampshire's North Country, by Bill Gove. The Campton Historical Society has a display and information on the Beebe River Railroad, the Beebe River village and the Draper Mill.

Gordon has hiked extensively in Northern New England and the Adirondacks of New York State. In 2011 he completed the Appalachian Trail (2,285 miles). He has also hiked the Long Trail in Vermont, The International AT in Quebec, Canada, Cohos Trail in northern New Hampshire and the John Muir Trail in California. Gordon has summited the New Hampshire Hundred Highest peaks, and the New England Hundred Highest in winter. He spends much of his time hiking locally and in the White Mountains with his dog Reuben and especially enjoys hiking in the Lakes Region due to the proximity to his home in New Hampton. He is also a trail maintainer for the BRATTS (Belknap Range Trail Tenders) and can be found often exploring the many hiking trails in the area. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Pat Buchanan - Why Russia resents us

Friday, a Russian SU-27 did a barrel roll over a U.S. RC-135 over the Baltic, the second time in two weeks. Also in April, the U.S. destroyer Donald Cook, off Russia's Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad, was twice buzzed by Russian planes.

Vladimir Putin's message: Keep your spy planes and ships a respectable distance away from us. Apparently, we have not received it.

Friday, Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work announced that 4,000 NATO troops, including two U.S. battalions, will be moved into Poland and the Baltic States, right on Russia's border.

"The Russians have been doing a lot of snap exercises right up against the border with a lot of troops," says Work, who calls this "extraordinarily provocative behavior."

But how are Russian troops deploying inside Russia "provocative," while U.S. troops on Russia's front porch are not? And before we ride this escalator up to a clash, we had best check our hole card.

Germany is to provide one of four battalions to be sent to the Baltic. But a Bertelsmann Foundation poll last week found that only 31 percent of Germans favor sending their troops to resist a Russian move in the Baltic States or Poland, while 57 percent oppose it, though the NATO treaty requires it.

Last year, a Pew poll found majorities in Italy and France also oppose military action against Russia if she moves into Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia or Poland. If it comes to war in the Baltic, our European allies prefer that we Americans fight it.

Asked on his retirement as Army chief of staff what was the greatest strategic threat to the United States, Gen. Ray Odierno echoed Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, "I believe that Russia is." He mentioned threats to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine.

Yet, when Gen. Odierno entered the service, all four were part of the Soviet Union, and no Cold War president ever thought any was worth a war.

The independence of the Baltic States was one of the great peace dividends after the Cold War. But when did that become so vital a U.S. interest we would go to war with Russia to guarantee it?

Putin may top the enemies list of the Beltway establishment, but we should try to see the world from his point of view.

When Ronald Reagan met Mikhail Gorbachev in Reykjavik in 1986, Putin was in his mid-30s, and the Soviet Empire stretched from the Elbe to the Bering Strait and from the Arctic to Afghanistan. Russians were all over Africa and had penetrated the Caribbean and Central America. The Soviet Union was a global superpower that had attained strategic parity with the United States.

Now consider how the world has changed for Putin, and Russia. By the time he turned 40, the Red Army had begun its Napoleonic retreat from Europe and his country had splintered into 15 nations. By the time he came to power, the USSR had lost one-third of its territory and half its population. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan were gone. The Black Sea, once a Soviet lake, now had on its north shore a pro-Western Ukraine, on its eastern shore a hostile Georgia, and on its western shore two former Warsaw Pact allies, Bulgaria and Romania, being taken into NATO. For Russian warships in Leningrad, the trip out to the Atlantic now meant cruising past the coastline of eight NATO nations: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, Denmark, Norway and Great Britain.

Putin has seen NATO, despite solemn U.S. assurances given to Gorbachev, incorporate all of Eastern Europe that Russia had vacated, and three former republics of the USSR itself. He now hears a clamor from American hawks to bring three more former Soviet republics — Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine — into a NATO alliance directed against Russia.

After persuading Kiev to join a Moscow-led economic union, Putin saw Ukraine's pro-Russian government overthrown in a U.S.-backed coup. He has seen U.S.-funded "color-coded" revolutions try to dump over friendly regimes all across his "near abroad."

"Russia has not accepted the hand of partnership," says NATO commander, Gen. Philip Breedlove, "but has chosen a path of belligerence." But why should Putin see NATO's inexorable eastward march as an extended "hand of partnership"?

Had we lost the Cold War and Russian spy planes began to patrol off Pensacola, Norfolk and San Diego, how would U.S. F-16 pilots have reacted? If we awoke to find Mexico, Canada, Cuba, and most of South America in a military alliance against us, welcoming Russian bases and troops, would we regard that as "the hand of partnership"?

We are reaping the understandable rage and resentment of the Russian people over how we exploited Moscow's retreat from empire.

Did we not ourselves slap aside the hand of Russian friendship, when proffered, when we chose to embrace our "unipolar moment," to play the "great game" of empire and seek "benevolent global hegemony"?

If there is a second Cold War, did Russia really start it?

(Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan has been a senior advisor to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He won the New Hampshire Republican Primary in 1996.)

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Never at a loss for words — Coming out of

by Gayle Lacasse
Bayswater Books

 

Winter: the time for hibernation. Retail businesses and service industries alike know the quiet that befalls our Lakes Region over the winter months. This time can be used as springboard for the upcoming season. Here at Bayswater, we have spent much of the winter excitedly researching hot new books ready for release, searching for new products to introduce this season, and generally gearing up for spring.

One such anticipated novel is Salt to the Sea, a young adult book by acclaimed author Ruta Sepetys. "Salt to the Sea is set in the winter of 1945 and unearths a story of World War II that has been hidden for 70 years," Sepetys explains. It tells of one of the greatest maritime disasters of all times. The luxury liner, Wilhelm Gustloff, refitted to transport thousands of refugees, was tragically sunk in the Baltic Sea. The number of passengers that perished dwarfs both the Titanic and the Lusitania combined.

The story of the massive exodus of Eastern European refugees fleeing from the grip of Germany and Russia is told by four young voices: Joanna, the brave nurse fleeing from the horrors occurring in Lithuania intent on helping as many people as she can; Emilia, whose intellectual father sent her from Poland to East Prussia to keep her safe with a family he thought could be trusted; Alfred, misguided, disliked, and fervently loyal to the Fuhrer; and Florian, a Prussian determined to complete his mission involving the disappearance of the secret Amber Room treasure, despite the odds.

Sepetys' own father had fled Lithuania, having lived in refugee camps for nine years before coming to the United States. A cousin of her father had actually booked passage on the Wilhelm Gustloff, but fate had intervened, preventing her from boarding the ship. The author claims, "...she is the one who begged me to write about it, and she also said even though we weren't on the ship, we could give voice to those who believe that their stories are sunken."

The night I finished Salt to the Sea was a sleepless night for me. I absorbed all of the emotional angst the author poured into the pages, especially the pages describing the panic, turmoil, and commotion when the ship was sinking. Sepetys' target may be young adults, but she wrote a historical fiction that moved this adult to tears.

There are many excellent young adult and middle reader books being published just in time for spring. Spring and summer hats are in, dazzling new jewelry is arriving daily, colorful accessories complement new book releases, and favorite fiction and non-fiction keeps rolling in.

We are shrugging the vestiges of winter off, throwing open the doors, and offering a warm welcome, as always. Bayswater Books is open seven days a week: Monday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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Howard — What is quality of life?

Mega-cities are literally building into the clouds raising questions around scale and quality of life.  94th Street and Third Avenue in Manhattan.

Mega-cities are literally building into the clouds raising questions around scale and quality of life.  94th Street and Third Avenue in Manhattan.

By ELIZABETH HOWARD

Two weeks ago I was in London and had an opportunity to attend and participate in a program around building homes, actually desperately needed housing, on land designated as green belts. London is an elegant, gracious city with exquisite parks. The English love their gardens and the exhibition, Painting in the Modern Garden – Monet to Matisse, currently on view at The Royal Academy is sold out on most days. The idea of encroaching on nature is highly controversial, so the conversation was fascinating, particularly for an American.

Then I traveled on to Vienna for a Monocle conference on "Quality of Life." If you are interested you can watch it (monocle.com/film/affairs/urban-provocations/) on the Monocle website.

The world is becoming increasingly urban and the mega-cities are being stretched for more housing, modes of transportation, clean water and green space. The Monocle conference was designed to generate conversation and ideas around these issues. Most of the participants at the conference travel from one major city to another across continents, so their insights represented many cultures and perspectives.

When I returned to New York I kept thinking about the phrase, "quality of life." We hear it often. People move to the country for reasons related to quality of life. Or they move from a cold climate to a warm climate to improve their lifestyle.
It seems to me that much of the political rhetoric that is swirling around and keeping us in a thick fog is essentially about quality of life. Where is community? Where is the desire to work together? Where is the desire to sit down and think about what we can do to boost job opportunities? Together. It isn't just about housing and green space.

Shinola (shinola.com) is a company in Detroit that is producing beautiful products that are manufactured in the United States. It is the creation of jobs for Americans in Detroit that the company is most proud of.

What can we do to stop the bullying and disagreement that seems to be pulling at the fabric of who we are as Americans? On Tuesday evening, 10th of May, Abby Disney's film Armor of Light is being broadcast on PBS. The film follows an evangelical minister and the mother of a child who was murdered in Florida and raises questions around those who are pro-life and pro-gun.

It is a film that plays a role in helping Americans understand how we can break down some of the issues that separate us. Abby invited me to one of the first screenings and I had the opportunity to view it for the second time last week in Harlem. As it ended and a discussion followed, the words quality of life came into my mind again.

People live in a community like Laconia for the lifestyle it offers. Summers on the lake, picturesque winters with opportunities for winter sports. Soon, Laconia will have a new theater, and hopefully this will bring more activity downtown. Yet, I sense there is much that could be done to improve the quality of life. It isn't an individual thought. It is only achieved when people embrace one another. When people accept that we are all different, but somewhere there are threads that link us together. It is what connects us, not what differentiates us that is most important.

Armor of Light begins with the often-cited Dietrich Bonhoeffer quote on the screen.

"Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act."

Elizabeth Howard's career intersects journalism, marketing and communications. Ned O'Gorman: A Glance Back, a book she edited, will be published in May 2016. She is the author of A Day with Bonefish Joe, a children's book, published by David R. Godine. She lives in New York City and has a home in Laconia. You can send her a note at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Froma Harrop - Our sick Rx business

Sometimes the road to hell is paved with bad intentions. A company adopts a business model so twisted that justice must come clanking down on its executives and bankrollers. Justice is now being served on Valeant Pharmaceuticals International. Evil this blatant is headed for the full Hollywood treatment.

Valeant preys on sick people by acquiring essential drugs and then multiplying their price for a fast profit. Example: upon buying the maker of Cuprimine, a 53-year-old drug that treats a rare genetic disorder, the Canadian company hiked its price 5,787 percent. Example: after obtaining the rights to two heart drugs, Isuprel and Nitropress, Valeant jacked up their prices by 525 percent and 212 percent, respectively.

Charlie Munger, the vice chairman of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, called Valeant a "sewer" at the conglomerate's recent annual meeting. If the burning fires of hell are not available, a sewer will do.

Get this: Valeant charges Americans almost 100 times more for flucytosine than it does Britons. Used to treat cryptococcal meningitis, flucytosine costs $2,000 a day in the United States, versus $22 a day in Britain.

How could this be? Ask your Congress.

From the Medicare drug benefit on up, it has written laws to enrich drug companies at the expense of American consumers and taxpayers. Valeant's going down not because it was greedy but because it was insanely greedy.

Calling Valeant a "drug company" is problematic because it's not much into researching and developing new medications. "Bet on management, not on science," its outgoing CEO, J. Michael Pearson, was fond of saying.

It takes some doing to provoke the U.S. Senate to hold a hearing on a drug company's pricing. In this, Valeant (and previously Martin Shkreli's Turing Pharmaceuticals) succeeded.

Under the harsh lights, Pearson conceded that his company made "mistakes." His big mistake was not recognizing that even the most pliable champions of America's medical-industrial complex have their limits.

Pearson's description of Valeant's program offering price breaks for hospitals that use some of its drugs didn't glow for long. Hospitals responded that when they tried to obtain those alleged discounts, they got nowhere. Valeant didn't answer their emails. It didn't answer the phone.

What else made Valeant think it could get away with such anti-social behavior? No doubt Wall Street's willingness to invest in its money-raking scheme contributed. Hedge fund giant William Ackman was Valeant's leading pitchman, enticing other big funds to join in the pillage.

Valeant has problems in addition to a business model so repugnant it couldn't be allowed to live. Among them is a high pile of debt. And its accounting practices aren't so hot, either.

Thus, it's no huge surprise that Valeant's stock price has collapsed 85 percent since last summer. Ackman's Pershing Square Capital Management and other hedge fund participants have lost billions.

Ackman told the hearing that his fund was not entirely aware of Valeant's drug pricing policy. He was a "passive" investor, he said. Somehow the truth would have seemed less damning. Are we to believe that Pershing Square poured $4 billion into a company without inquiring as to how it made money?

In an almost comical exchange with the senators, Ackman said: "I totally get it. We're going to come up with an appropriate (drug) price based on an appropriate rationale."

All is not forgiven. Investors lost billions, but patients may have lost far more.

One hopes that spotlighting this egregious gouging on drug prices won't deter attention from the lower-level daily gouging that our laws enable. The only remedy for that, frankly, is new lawmakers.

(A member of the Providence Journal editorial board, Froma Harrop writes a nationally syndicated column from that city. She has written for such diverse publications as The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Institutional Investor.)

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