Friday, October 30, 2009

A Visit to Coldbrook Falls Memorial Reservation


My sister Wendy (Watson) and I visited the Coldbrook Falls Memorial Reservation located in Randolph, NH in the fall of 2005. Ordinarily this landmark might be overlooked by many on their way to the northern summits, but it held great personal significance for us. This was the first time since our father Morrill Watson died in 1969 that I was ready to go back to Randolph and reconnect with my past.

My father first took me to the Coldbrook Falls Memorial Reservation when I was around 10 years old, and I had only a vague recollection of seeing a plaque on a giant boulder that had something to do with our family. It was on that plaque that our great-grandparents, Laban and Anna Watson, who played a part in Randolph’s history back in the 1800s, were named. So, wanting to learn more about their lives, I returned to Randolph with a sense of purpose and urgency to find out what this reservation was all about.

The Coldbrook Falls Memorial Reservation came into existence when the town of Randolph, NH, at its annual town meeting on March 11, 1947, voted to accept from Mr. and Mrs. John Boothman, the proprietors of the Mt. Crescent House in Randolph, and from the heirs of Louis Fayerweather Cutter the offered gift of a small area along Cold Brook (current spelling) in Randolph which included Cold Brook Falls and the Memorial Bridge. The area was designated to be held by the town as a memorial forest reservation to be known as Coldbrook Falls Reservation in memory of the late Laban Morrill Watson and Anna Burbank Watson, the parents of Mrs. Edith Boothman, and Louis Fayerweather Cutter and Mary Osgood Cutter of Salem, Mass.

The terms of the gift required that the reservation be kept by the town as closely as possible in its present natural state. The gift was established for the benefit of the inhabitants, summer residents, and visitors to Randolph.

Mr. and Mrs. Watson ran the Ravine House for over 30 years and Laban Watson was an early member of the Appalachian Mountain Club (he joined in 1878) as well as a pathmaker on the Northern Peaks and on the Crescent range.

Mr. and Mrs. Cutter were long time summer visitors to Randolph. Mr. Cutter, over a long period, prepared the various AMC maps of the Northern Peaks and of the Mt. Washington range, work which he started in 1885 while a student at M.I.T.

Our visit to the Reservation began at the Memorial Bridge. This impressive bridge, made of stone and logs, was designed and built in 1923 by Louis F. Cutter and Eldredge H. Blood (the dedication of the bridge took place on August 23, 1924, Randolph’s one hundredth anniversary of the incorporation of the town).

On this trip, I took all my photos with a disposable digital camera and found that the Memorial Bridge pictures came out too dark to use, so I included the following two below.

On the left, the black and white postcard of the bridge was taken by the photographer Guy Shorey. On the right, the color photograph shows a more recent picture.




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Next we went on to view the granite memorial stone dedicated to the Randolph pathmakers. The stone, surrounded by moss and covered with lichen, is located on the east side of the Memorial Bridge. Although nature has had a hand in making the engraving more difficult to read, this is by no means a harbinger that these pathmakers will be forgotten, as their contributions to the early history of the Northern Presidentials and Crescent Range are remembered today and will be in the future.

I was able to glean these words from the stone:


MEMORIAL

TO

J. R. EDMANDS AND E. B. COOK

AND THOSE OTHER PIONEER PATHMAKERS

GORDON LOWE KING HUNT WATSON

PEEK SARGENT NOWELL

EVERY MAN’S WORK SHALL BE MADE MANIFEST




{click on image above for larger view}


Click here for an interesting history of path making on the Northern Presidentials and Crescent Range that features the pathmakers honored on this stone.

Just a short distance from the granite memorial stone, along a path nestled within the softly shaded forest, we approached the boulder bedecked with “the plaque.” Observing it closely, we found it shrouded in a veil of decay. Without hesitation, we took on the task of removing dead tree limbs and other vegetative debris, taking great pleasure in exposing the boulder’s natural hidden beauty as seen below.




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The plaque on the boulder is inscribed with these words:


COLDBROOK FALLS
RESERVATION

TO BE PRESERVED FOREVER IN ITS
NATURAL STATE

IN LOVING MEMORY OF

LABAN MORRILL AND

ANNA BURBANK WATSON

AND OF

LOUIS FAYERWEATHER AND

MARY OSGOOD CUTTER




{click on image above for larger view}


And, last but not least is Cold Brook Falls, the most dramatic of the many falls of Cold Brook between the floor of King Ravine and the Randolph Valley. This lush spot, with its large pool surrounded by glacial size boulders, makes a lovely place to picnic but not to swim, as the residents of Randolph use this as a source of their drinking water.

I knew after our visit to the falls was over that I would soon return again, and we have returned (to Randolph) each year since this visit in 2005.




{click on image above for larger view}


Note: The Coldbrook Falls Memorial Reservation can be reached from the Appalachia parking lot off Route 2 in Randolph, NH. Follow The Link trail to the Memorial Bridge - a distance of .7 miles. From this spot one can view Cold Brook Falls upstream, see the granite stone honoring the early pathmakers and the Boulder dedicated to the Watsons and the Cutters. To visit Cold Brook Falls, take the Amphibrach which diverges left from The Link on the west side of the Memorial Bridge and look for a path on the left which takes you directly to the falls.

2 comments:

Asheville_Pubcrawler_in_Exile said...

Thanks for posting this. The area is one of my favorite places in Randolph.

It's a small point, but I wrote down the inscription on the rock back in the early 80's. According to my notes the last line is "Every man's work shall be made manifest."

Marcia Gulesian said...

It might be a small point, but a significant one that I am very happy to learn about. I will edit my October 30, 2009 post to reflect your input. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

Marcia