TILTON — A map can show a place in time, but it can also tell a story. Such is a map of Tilton that can now be found hanging on a wall on the first floor of Tilton Town Hall.
First drawn around 1886, the eight-foot long map shows a section of East Main Street where the Winnipesaukee River, the railroad tracks, and Laconia Road meet. It shows canals, a pond, and a waste way that were used by the mill on the Northfield side of the river. It also depicts properties owned by Charles E. Tilton and the heirs of the Reverend William D. Cass. Northfield parcels owned by John Heath and Cheney Huckins are listed as well.
The map makes a number of references to the Lake Company (the Winnipiseogee Lake Cotton and Woolen Manufacturing Company), given that they purchased water rights as well as the right to flood properties along the river for use in dry summer months. This sometimes led to disputes that were sometimes referred to as the Winnipesaukee Water Wars (www.newenglandhistoricalsociety.com). There are also references to deeds found at the Belknap County Registry of Deeds.
The map provides information about dam levels and flood conditions using data from a 1911 atlas. The assumption is that the Lake Company used the older map to add updated information about the river rather than commissioning a whole new map.
This map shows the three influences, The Winnipesaukee River, the Boston, Concord & Montreal Railroad and Laconia Road, that assisted in changing Tilton from an agricultural community to a center for mills and tourists.
The Tilton map was donated to the town by Brownie Gengras, a former Tilton Conservation Commission chair, after the town purchased land shown on the map which is now the Salmon Run Conservation Area.
In 2019, the Conservation Commission applied to the New Hampshire State Library Conservation License Plate (Moose Plate) Grant for funding to conserve, preserve, and frame the map as well as to microfilm and digitize it. The town was fortunate to receive the grant, so citizens and visitors can now see a piece of Tilton’s history in person. In addition, digitized images can be found on the Conservation Commission’s website (www.tiltoncc.org) as well as at www.findnhhistory.org. A hard copy of the application is available at the Hall Memorial Library, and a copy of the map will be located at the kiosk at Salmon Run.
As Tilton continues to celebrate its 150th anniversary, it is only appropriate that this piece of history is now available for all to view, enjoy and learn from.