We are so excited to be able to participate in the Park Day Blog Hop, hosted by Gizmo and Finn. We had a great time on our day out!
We picked a park not too far from home, probably about 15-20 miles. The Gardner Memorial Wayside Park is a small park pretty much on the town line between the small towns of Wilmot (pop. 1358 in 2010) and Springfield (pop. 1311 in 2010), New Hampshire. It is right on Route 4A which runs between the towns of Enfield and Andover, NH, inside the 6,675 acre Gile State Forest.
Trixie and Susie, above, are inspecting this memorial that sits at the beginning of the hiking trails. After returning from our hike, I was curious about the history of this area and who Walter C. Gardner III was. My initial research could only turn up the fact that he was the son of Walter Gardner, who had established the Gile State Forest. My initial attempt at finding out more about this family was turning up nothing. When I was just about to give up, I finally found a newsletter from the Springfield (NH) Historical Society, from 2010, that told the tragic story of this family. I was almost sorry I didn’t give up, because it was just so sad!
In 1933 Walter Gardner was a lumber dealer in Springfield, NH, and was married to Bessie with whom he had three children, a girl 10 years old, a boy 6 years old, and 10 month old Walter Jr. His wife was not well and one night murdered their three children and then killed herself, while Walter was upstairs sleeping. It is thought now that perhaps she suffered from postpartum depression.
Walter did go on to re-marry years later and it was with his second wife that he had another son, Walter III. Tragedy struck again. When Walter III was attending college, he accidentally shot himself while playing Russian roulette.
Walter owned many forests in Springfield, and it was later arranged for Dartmouth College to purchase some of the land. That is when it was named Gile Forest, in honor of John F. Gile, a trustee of the college. He was also a surgeon at the local hospital, and had delivered Walter Gardner III in 1935. So that is the story of how the park came to be established and the memorial put there for this family who suffered so much tragedy.
This is not a big fancy park, but more of a woodsy area with some short hiking trails, a beautiful large brook, and a picnic area. It’s really a perfect place for a morning or afternoon leg stretching walk, enjoying the scenery, and then having a nice relaxing picnic. If you like to fish, I am sure fish could be found in the brook or in the pond we walked to. The park is open year round but is not maintained so I’m not sure if you could get in there in the Winter or not. You could probably park on the side of the road and walk in on snowshoes and pick up the trails.
On this early Spring day, the forest still looked a little bit like Autumn….the trails were still covered with crunchy leaves, and there is not much sign of greenery yet. We were hoping for a warmer day, but the temperature never quite reached 50 degrees, and it was breezy. It was plenty warm walking though. Accompanying me, my beagle Kobi, and my Golden Sheba, was my two sisters, Lynn and Karen, and Karen’s two beagles Trixie and Susie.
This pretty bridge leads you from the parking lot to the hiking trails.
We decided to head to the “old mill site” first. The former mill dates back to the 1800’s. It is only .1 miles from the sign, and the path meanders along the beautiful brook. The brook looks to have many swimming holes. Sheba really wanted to go in, but it was just a bit too chilly this day.
After visiting the mill site, we headed back and took the trail leading to Butterfield Pond.
The trail was very wet and muddy in places. Not that the dogs cared! Kobi, the senior member of the dog party, was often leading the way!
The forest in this area is filled with many different trees: sugar maple, yellow birch, beech, and balsam fir. We passed through this old stone wall here, evidence of homesteads past.
Wildlife is prevalent in this area: moose, deer, fox, bears, and many varieties of songbirds. The only wildlife we heard, however, were croaking wood frogs when we got closer to the pond!
Butterfield Pond is a 12 acre trout pond. There were a few old rowboats and canoes left along the shoreline as evidence that fishermen often visit here.
The hike back to the picnic area was uneventful! We were hoping for more sunshine and warmth this day, but we toughed it out and still had our picnic.
There was sandwiches, chips, cookies, soda and water for the humans, and two kinds of dog treats and water for the dogs!
We didn’t linger too long over the picnic, since all we got was a glimpse of sunshine. In spite of the less than ideal weather, it was a very enjoyable visit to this park!
We are also participating in the FitDog Friday blog hop, hosted by SlimDoggy, Peggy’s Pet Place, and To Dog With Love. FitDog Friday is all about keeping fit and being healthy, and our hike in the park was all about that for our dogs as well as ourselves!
Miss Harper Lee says
Such a pretty park, and so much willpower by Sheba to stay out of the water!
Sheba is a good girl, and the weather is starting to warm up here, so she should get to go swimming pretty soon!
This was an awesome, albeit, challenging, chilly, walk-I always wanted to visit this park, so happy to find it is so nice, accessible-we had a great time, but wasn’t I surprised at the history of the memorial, wow-great time anyway, thanks, Jan, for sharing dogs and info!!
And thanks for joining us, Lynn, and helping with the dogs!
Thanks for the history on the park. Tragic, but interesting. And I am glad you toughed out the cold weather for some fitness and fun park time with all those lovely dogs!
It has seemed impossible lately to wait on the nice weather, so I’m having to learn to just be tougher! (though it is finally getting nice now). I’m glad you found the history of the park interesting, it really was quite the story.
Looks great and I love that you had picnic stuff…mom never thinks about that!
This Mom is always thinking about food! 🙂
I might be like a dog in that way!
Wyatt Airedale says
Now, that is a beautiful place to bark and wag about! Interesting back story on the park’s founders.
Thank you, Wyatt!
Jan thank you so much for joining up for Park Day (no worries about the linky thing…I’ve messed it up myself more than once)…I love that you got a whole group of dogs out there and that everyone enjoyed their time outdoors…Sheba does look like she has enough fur to brave that cold water…Your area is so different than mine and seeing all the variety is what makes Park Day so great…That is a sad history indeed…We have a spot here, hidden deep in the woods of the Green Swamp where bandits overcame and murdered one of the early cattle ranching families (“Crackers”) … There’s a similar stone monument with a plaque that is so strange to come across…
Sometimes it surprises me when I read about such tragic things happening way back when, I never expected to find that story behind that memorial! I was kind of glad I didn’t know about it when we were there! Sheba wouldn’t have minded it being too cold to go swimming, no, but as it was with just the mud puddles we all got a little wet and muddy, and that made me chilly! I’m glad that you came up with the idea for the Park Day, it really got me to think, and to do something different for a change!
SlimDoggy (@MySlimDoggy) says
What a great hike. Not only great scenery, but fun stuff to do with the water and the logs to jump over. I bet you had lots of fun. Thanks for joining our Blog Hop, hope you come back again!
It was a great place, I was glad I picked it. We plan to go back when the weather is nicer. I hope to join in on FitDog Fridays a lot, it will keep us motivated to keep moving!
Hi guys! Thanks for roughing out the icky weather for Park Day! I am really impressed you stayed and had a picnic. What a cool place, I would have looked into the history of it all too!
Hi Finn, we had fun, so I’m glad we didn’t let the weather stop us! Yes, I love history, and I always have to know the story behind everything.
Caren Gittleman says
what a great time! I wish we had a park like that near us! The parks by our house do not allow dogs 🙁
Oh, that is too bad, I think most of the parks around here do allow dogs. They should be allowed everywhere! 🙂