Points of Interest
- Dead Diamond Road
- Wentworth Location Cemetary
- Osprey Nest
- Perley Churchill Bridge
- Miller-Quinn Landing Strip
- USGS Water Gage Station
- Brungot’s Spring
- Diamond Gorge
- Dart Wentworth Spring
- Diamond Peaks
- John Sloan Dickey Natural Area
- Dike Site Road
- Merrill Brook Cabin
- Bob Monahan’s Bathtub
- Halfmoon Beach
- Half Mile Falls
- Sanderson Brook Trail
- Hellgate Area
- Finnson’s Cliff
- Little Dead Diamond River
- North of Hellgate
- Swift Diamond Road
Roads in the Second College Grant
The Dead Diamond Road runs the length of the Grant, following the general course of the Dead Diamond River. The Swift Diamond Road leaves the Dead Diamond Road at the Management Center and provides driving access to Alder Brook Cabin, Stoddard Cabin, and Johnson Brook Cabin. Other roads, used for either past or current logging, are blocked off with gates or are now unsuitable for vehicle traffic. However, as logging activity in the Grant shifts locations, some sections of road now gated may be opened in future years.
There has never been, and hopefully will never be, an asphalt road in the Grant. Visitors should use caution and common sense when driving. Braking power on gravel roads isn’t nearly the same as on asphalt. The roads are narrow and winding, and occasional washboard surfaces can send fast drivers skidding off the roadway. Nowhere in the Grant should anyone drive faster than 25 mph and in many places visitors should drive much more slowly, particularly at curves or in times of rainy or snowy weather. Driving slowly eliminates most of the risk of colliding with moose or with other vehicles.
Dead Diamond Road
Wentworth Location Cemetary
This cemetery was given to the town of Wentworth’s Location (the town’s legal name) in the mid-1800s. The first person to be buried there was Mary York, in 1867, who died at the age of 32. Her husband, Joseph, died in 1869 at the age of 45. Over time many local residents have been buried here. Among them are Grace Turner and her husband Leslie. Grace was the Gatekeeper at the College Grant for over twenty years from the ’50s to the early ’70s. Leslie Turner drowned in the Diamond River during a log drive in 1940. Grace died in 1980. Several other long-time local families have members buried here. Currently, Lorraine Turner is the cemetery curator.
A few hundred yards in from Route 16 an osprey nest is readily visible off to the left. It sits atop a dead tree in the middle of an open, marshy area. The metal flashing around the base of the tree protects the osprey eggs and young from mammalian predation.
Except in the winter, do not stop to look at the nest. When ospreys are incubating eggs or attempting to feed their young, too much attention may be disruptive and lead to the abandonment of a nesting effort.
This is one of the oldest known active nests in the state. Years ago, throughout the United States, DDT usage decimated populations of ospreys, eagles, and hawks. The pesticide, in the food chain and ingested with the birds’ prey, resulted in very thin eggshells, which often broke during routine incubation. The comeback of ospreys has been slow but steady since DDT usage was banned. The nest here is now one of about twenty in the Lake Umbagog region, which has the only significant population of ospreys in New Hampshire.
Perley Churchill Bridge
The Perley Churchill Bridge is named after the engineer for Brown Paper Company who designed the bridge at the request of Bob Monahan, College Forester. The bridge was constructed in 1951. In late winter of 1981, the ice on the Dead and Swift Diamond Rivers broke loose at the same time and filled the gorge. It got jammed on the island below the bridge and backed up, piling to a depth of six feet above the bridge decking. Pressure from the ice distorted the large I-beams supporting the bridge, but they withheld the force and the bridge stayed in place. The beams were straightened, the bridge raised two feet, and overflow channels were cut on both sides of the bridge to allow ice to go around it, should such an event happen again. In the early ’90s it was noticed that the abutments were beginning to rot. There was concern that it might not hold the weight of log trucks, and was closed. The cost of repairing the bridge was considered too high at that time so the bridge remained closed for a few years. Finally a contractor was located to repair the bridge at a reasonable cost, so the bridge was repaired, raised another two feet, and brought back into service. This is considered the ‘front door’ to the College Grant.
Miller-Quinn Landing Strip and Lower Farm
Past the Gate Camp and just after the bridge over the Diamond River there is a sign on the right for the Miller-Quinn Landing Strip. This emergency airstrip is a memorial to two Dartmouth Medical School doctors who crashed their light plane and eventually died in the Pemigewasset Wilderness in the winter of 1959. They survived heroically for some time in spite of injuries and bitter cold — recording their efforts in a journal before they were finally overwhelmed by the New Hampshire winter. The plane wreckage and their bodies were found the following spring.
The landing strip was bulldozed out from old farm fields, where hay and oats were once grown for logging camp horses. As recently as twenty-five years ago, a barn stood on the edge of the clearing. Vestiges of old fencing can still be found up in the woods along with occasional horseshoes and other artifacts. In season, blueberries and raspberries can be found on the edges of the clearing.
The Magalloway River (see the canoeing section) flows along the upper edge of the landing strip. Abutments for an old bridge here, which washed away in 1943, are still in place. The bridge and road east of it leading out to Route 26 in Maine provided the original access to the College Grant.
In the summer of 1908, Phil Ayres, the College Forester, decided to set up a sawmill at the Upper Farm, which was the base of operations on the College Grant at that time. The mill was purchased second hand in Colebrook and easily delivered to the Lower Farm, the current site of the Miller-Quinn Landing Strip. From there it was pulled with great difficulty by a team of horses over the steep rough road above the gorge and on to the farmhouse where it was set up for use. Frequent breakdowns kept wood production very low. Eventually, the sawmill was moved back to the Lower Farm, set up by the gravel pit, and used there. All that remains now is the concrete and raised ground foundation. Transporting logs out to a sawmill by river and truck proved to be much more profitable than milling the logs into lumber on the Grant.
USGS Water Gage Station
The amount of water flowing out of the Diamond River watershed is measured at a water gaging station a few hundred yards upstream from where the road to the Miller-Quinn Memorial Landing Strip forks off the Diamond Road. Here, at the lower end of the gorge, the volume and depth of water is measured and transmitted via satellite. This station has been active at this location since 1941. It is managed by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) office in Pembroke, New Hampshire. Anyone interested can check current and past data on the station’s webpage. Dartmouth faculty and students conducting water-related research on the Grant (including forest growth projects) use the data available from this gaging station on a regular basis. Fishermen should know that fishing will be best when the water levels are close to average on a given day (neither too high nor too low). Direct questions or comments to: District Chief, U.S. Geological Survey, 361 Commerce Way, Pembroke, NH, 03275.
This Spring is named after Sievert Mathias Jorgenson Brungot, better known as “Sam”, renowned story teller, wood scaler, and Fire Warden on the College Grant. In a memorial memo following the death of Sam on September 16, 1963, Bob Monahan wrote, “May the Sam Brungot Spring at the Diamond River Gorge always be a reminder to parched travelers that the colorful character for whom the Spring was named would wish them good hunting, good fishing or enjoyment of whatever pursuits lure them to ‘his country’ in the hidden valleys above the gorge.”
Diamond Gorge and Diamond Gorge Lookout
The Dead Diamond Road ascends from the landing strip turn-off and skirts the edge of a deep gorge. A ledge on the west side of the road offers good views of the gorge, which can be particularly impressive in late winter when the river is high and filled with drifting ice.
Dart Wentworth Spring
This spring provides a steady, reliable supply of water for piping by gravity to the Management Center and Sam’s Cabin. Individuals and groups staying at other cabins often stop here to fill their water containers before proceeding further into the College Grant. The spring has its source deep in the basin below the Diamond Peaks. It is named in memory of Dart Wentworth, long time accountant at Dartmouth College who managed the financial records of the College Grant during Bob Monahan’s tenure as College Forester.
A short distance beyond Peaks Cabin and the junction of the Swift Diamond and Dead Diamond Rivers a view opens up to the right across the Diamond Basin to the slopes and cliffs of the three Diamond Peaks. This view is best right at Sam’s Cabin and the Management Center, which sit on opposite sides of the Swift Diamond Road at its junction with the Dead Diamond Road. The trail to the Diamond Peaks begins on the east side of the Dead Diamond Road, directly across from Sam’s Cabin.
The hiking trail, with occasional steep stretches, is a little more than a mile long to its end atop the second Diamond Peak. A short spur off this trail about a third of the way up leads to Alice's Ledge, which has a good view of the Dead Diamond River valley by Sam’s Cabin and the Management Center. Common sense and reasonable caution should be used when skirting along the edge of the cliffs bordering the trail. A bushwhack over to the third peak requires caution in descending a steep pitch down to a saddle, but is easy from the saddle to the peak itself, which offers views not seen from either of the other two peaks, particularly of Lake Umbagog.
Ravens and a pair of red-tailed hawks are frequently seen around the Diamond Peaks and over the Diamond Basin. Peregrine falcons returned in the spring of 1997. Although unsuccessful at nesting, they returned again in 1998.
John Sloan Dickey Natural Area
Of all the presidents of Dartmouth, none has loved the Grant as did John Dickey, an ardent fly-fisherman and lover of the outdoors. It is certain that he had the Grant strongly in mind when he spoke of the “place loyalty” that distinguishes Dartmouth from all other colleges.
On the edge of the clearing directly across the Dead Diamond Road from the Management Center a bronze plaque on a boulder honors the memory of John Dickey by designating the surrounding areas of the Diamond Basin, the Diamond Peaks, and the Forks of the Diamond as the John Sloan Dickey Natural Area. At the dedication ceremony in 1976, President Dickey was deeply moved to have his name linked forever with his favorite place on earth (or perhaps his favorite place without a view of Dartmouth Hall). He had spent many happy times here staying at the Management Center, fishing the Dead Diamond and the Swift Diamond with friends, and sharing laughter and stories with colorful, old Sam Brungot, wood scaler and Fire Warden for the Grant, who lived in Sam’s Cabin.
Dike Site Road
A little more than a mile north of Sam’s Cabin and the Management Center, the Dike Site Road branches off to the east from the Dead Diamond Road. This dead-end road has been renovated by logging and is a good hiking or skiing trail. It leads over to the edge of the Magalloway Swamp and the Maine border and can be an interesting place to view wildlife or, with a snow cover, follow animal tracks.
The Dike Site refers to a decades-old and stillborn plan to dam the Diamond Gorge for hydroelectric power. A dike here would have been necessary to keep the dammed waters from flooding over the height of land and dropping down into the Magalloway River.
Merrill Brook Cabin and College Farm
Merrill Brook Cabin sits by the side of the Dead Diamond Road a little over 2.5 miles north of the Management Center. Evidence of old buildings, pastures, and fields can be found around the cabin and toward the Dead Diamond River.
This was the site of the Upper College farm. Potatoes, and probably other crops suitable for the north country’s short growing season, were raised here for nearby logging camps. Seedlings were once grown in a nursery for replanting logged-over areas, a practice long since abandoned because of heavy natural reseeding. The stands of tall and slender spruce on the west side of the road north of the cabin were planted from the nursery on fields no longer needed. Never thinned, the spruce have slowly grown tall and straight and have been cut progressively over the years for signposts, culvert markers, flagpoles, and finally cabin logs. Other softwood seedlings, not native to the Grant, were also planted in the clearings after the college farm was abandoned, among them scotch pine, norway (red) pine, and norway spruce. Some of the norway spruce grew huge before they were harvested a few years ago.
Bob Monahan’s Bathtub and Diamond Four Corners
In a clearing four-tenths of a mile north of Merrill Brook Cabin a road leads off to the west and is driveable in dry weather down to Bob Monahan’s Bathtub, which consists of a pool in the Dead Diamond River off a nice ledge. Water temperature permitting, this is a good place to take a bath.
Among his many accomplishments in a long and active life, Bob Monahan ‘29 was an author, former Dartmouth College forester, former majority leader for the New Hampshire Senate, and one of the founders of the Mount Washington Observatory. He did indeed take baths here when he was overseeing logging activity in the Grant.
Past Bob Monahan’s Bathtub, the side road ends at the river at an old bridge abutment. Truck bridges and foot bridges built here in the past had all been washed out. In 1993 however, three students, taking a course at the Thayer School of Engineering, designed and constructed a suspension bridge to cross the river at this point. The bridge has been tested by high water and heavy ice flows, but the design has proven effective against these forces. Finally there is a safe way for people staying in cabins along the Dead Diamond to enjoy the central part of the Grant without driving all the way around. It’s also the fastest way to Stoddard Cabin for those skiing in the winter.
A clearing across the river was the site of an old logging camp. The crossroads here is known as Diamond Four Corners. The road north is gated and extends six miles into Lamb Valley. The road west leads up into Loomis Valley, but is gated just past Stoddard Cabin. The road south is the original Loomis Valley Road. It was closed to vehicular traffic in the mid-’90s but it is mowed regularly for recreational use. It joins the relocated Loomis Valley Road in about one-third mile.
Nelson Ham, the former College Grant Gatekeeper, would often suggest this sandy beach below a low waterfall as a place to swim for cabin users. Its location was not well marked, so few used it. It is about 1.5 miles north of the turn-off to Monahan’s Bathtub at a sharp turn of the road. There is a sign and a yellow half moon painted on a tree indicating the location of a maintained trail to the beach, named by the Dartmouth Outing Club crew who built Stoddard Cabin.
Sid Hayward Ledge and Half Mile Falls
About 2.5 miles north of Merrill Brook Cabin a sign for Sid Hayward Ledge marks the head of Half Mile Falls. Sid Hayward ’26 was Secretary of the College and fished often at the Grant. The ledges that bear his name are an excellent picnic spot. The series of pools that make up Half Mile Falls are good for swimming and are best seen by canoe or by wading.
Sanderson Brook Trail
The Sanderson Brook Trail is an old logging road which branches off to the east of the Dead Diamond Road about a mile north of the head of Half Mile Falls. The trail has been recently cleared of blowdowns and encroaching brush and is suitable for hiking or cross country skiing. There are no views from this 2.5-mile trail when the leaves are on the trees.
If followed to its end (with a slight bushwhack) the trail winds up in Maine on a dirt road known as the Parmachenee Road. Following the Parmachenee Road north (left), take a left turn at the only major fork, and after about six miles you will have looped around to rejoin the Dead Diamond Road just south of Hellgate.
Slewgundy is a deep pool in the Dead Diamond a little more than a mile north of the head of Half Mile Falls and very close to the Dead Diamond Road. Bugs and water temperature permitting, it’s a good spot for a swim and a picnic. Slewgundy is an old logging term which may refer to a pool or slow spot in a river. Several “slewgundys” can be found in the north woods of New England.
North of Slewgundy the road leaves the Second College Grant after about a mile and a half and passes into the Atkinson and Gilmanton Academy Grant. Dartmouth owns the land between the road and the river, thanks to the generosity of George and Pat Stoddard, who also provided funds for the construction of Stoddard Cabin. Shortly after the wooden bridge over East Horne Brook there is an intersection. Hellgate cabin users will drive straight ahead here and soon see the suspension footbridge which provides access to the Hellgate Hilton and the Pete Blodgett Cabin. A few hundred yards beyond the footbridge is the Hellgate Gorge Cabin obscured in the trees on the west side of the road. Since the road to the Atkinson and Gilmanton Academy Grant was relocated, this cabin is now at the end of the road. Back at the intersection, the road to the east leads away from the Hellgate area. There is a locked gate on this road a short distance from the intersection. Grant cabin users have a key to this gate. Turning north beyond the gate the road goes through the Atkinson and Gilmanton Academy Grant. Going straight after the gate the road leads to the height of land and down to Abbot Brook and on to Route 16 in Wilson’s Mills, Maine.
The head of Hellgate Gorge is best reached by following a trail to the river from just beyond the Hellgate Gorge Cabin. The gorge is narrow at its head, and has deep pools and wide ledges down below. The remains of an old log-driving dam can be seen about halfway down the gorge. In times of low water the old metal gates of the dam can be seen down river at the bottom of a pool where they wound up after the dam washed out. The gorge was a dangerous spot in the days when loggers drove sawlogs and pulpwood down the river. It ends at a huge pool with a large gravel bar over on the south side of the river — an excellent swimming hole and beach.
A large field across the river at the suspension footbridge is dotted with the vestigial foundations of many old buildings. Years ago the clearing at Hellgate was the site of a huge logging camp, and many old iron relics from the logging era lie hidden among the vegetation. Users of the Hellgate Hilton are likely to see much evidence of the old logging camps as they poke around. A shed-like building next to the Hellgate Hilton is the only surviving structure of several hunting and fishing camps built in the 1940s. The Pete Blodgett Cabin sits along the south edge of the field below the Hellgate Hilton.
On the east side of the road, several hundred yards north of the Hellgate Gorge Cabin, a short, steep trail leads up to Finnson’s Cliff. Finnson’s Cliff was named after Cliff Finnson, a legendary north-country figure who trapped in the Grant for over forty years. The cliff is readily visible from the road by the Hellgate Gorge Cabin. The view of the Hellgate area and the Dead Diamond valley is excellent. The trail continues along the ridgeline and around the bowl, eventually dropping down and following skidder trails back to the gravel road in the Hellgate area.
Little Dead Diamond River
Less than a mile up the valley from Hellgate a bridge immediately to the left on a side road crosses the Dead Diamond. This side road doubles back south of the Dead Diamond and then follows up along the Little Dead Diamond River. This road is good for hiking and skiing and most driving, but its condition at any given time depends on the level of logging activity. Be cautious and conservative in deciding how far to drive. It is a very long hike out for help if you get stuck.
North of Hellgate
The Dead Diamond Road (or East Branch Road) continues north along the East Branch beyond the river’s junctions with the West Branch and the Middle Branch. All this land belongs to timber companies. A bridge crosses the East Branch by Little Garfield Falls. Beyond this crossing the road splits into many logging roads, all of which dead end. Extremely heavy logging activity throughout the area north of Hellgate has left many open vistas. It will be decades before large trees can once again be found in much of this part of the watershed. It is interesting to contrast the extensive clear-cutting here with the logging practices in the Grant, which is managed generally on a sustained yield basis with an eye towards protecting or improving wildlife habitat.
A good day trip and challenge of exploration for Grant users is an expedition to Garfield Falls on the East Branch about three miles above Little Garfield Falls. This is a spectacular waterfall in times of high water and can be reached most easily by simply following the East Branch up.
Swift Diamond Road
The Swift Diamond Road begins at the Management Center and Sam’s Cabin and crosses a bridge over the Dead Diamond before it passes over the height of land and descends to the Swift Diamond River. It provides driving access to Alder Brook Cabin, Stoddard Cabin, and Johnson Brook Cabin, and to logging access to the west side of the Grant all the way up along the east branch of Four Mile Brook and to Mount Tucker. It also provides an alternative exit from the Grant by crossing the Swift Diamond River at Ellingwood Falls and continuing south about one mile to a gate. Turning left at the gate, one can drive four miles back to Route 16 on the Greenough Pond Road.
Forks of the Diamond Natural Area
A few hundred yards beyond the bridge over the Dead Diamond a sign marks the beginning of a hiking trail off to the left. This trail winds through an area, bounded by the road and by the Dead Diamond and Swift Diamond Rivers, designated to remain in its natural state. The hike through the natural area is level and undemanding. The trail comes to a “T” by the Swift Diamond River. The trail to the left follows the west bank of the Dead Diamond back up to the bridge. The trail to the right goes up along the Swift Diamond River to rejoin the Swift Diamond Road where the road first nears the river. An old wood-fired cookstove on the riverbank near the junction of the Swift and the Dead is an interesting relic of the log driving days.
The Forks of the Diamond Natural Area is a good place to study the dynamics of unmanaged, north-country timberland. The standing-dead and tumbled-down balsam fir stands show the effect of the spruce budworm infestation in the early eighties. No salvage cutting was done in the natural area. The fir died, and many young hardwoods are growing up among the tangle of decaying trees. Most of the spruce survived. Salvage cuttings of lowland fir further out the Swift Diamond Road have left open areas, which, without the logging activity, would now look much like the Forks of the Diamond Natural Area. Softwoods of any size seen further out the Swift Diamond Road (aside from a few red pine planted several decades ago) are mostly spruce with a very few white pine and northern white cedar. These trees were unaffected by spruce budworm and were left during the salvage cutting.
Loomis Valley Road
A little more than a mile from the bridge over the Dead Diamond the Loomis Valley Road leads off to the north. This road is gated just beyond Stoddard Cabin about four miles away. It is an excellent place to hike, cross country ski, or look for wildlife.
Along the Swift Diamond Road about one half mile from the Management Center there is a sign for the Hand-on-the-Rock. This is a curious carving on a streamside boulder. There is much speculation as to its origin. A short trail follows the Swift Diamond River upstream to a large rock which has the mysterious carving on it.
Blueberry Management Area
Years ago an intense fire burned through this section of forest stimulating the growth of a lush carpet of blueberry plants. Over time the forest returned to this site. In an effort to mimic the catastrophic natural event the trees have been removed and the residual blueberry plants thereby released. This area will now be managed for blueberries through periodic brush cutting and prescribed burning. Blueberries are an important source of food for a wide variety of birds and mammals. The low bushes also provide roosting and nesting cover for woodcock and other birds.
This high ridge of land, located at a bend on the Swift Diamond River, was named after Sievert Mathias Jorgenson Brungot, better known as “Sam”, renowned story teller, wood scaler, and Fire Warden on the College Grant. It provided the best place for Sam to scout the Swift Diamond River watershed for signs of fires, and to watch for the loggers during the river-driving season. It offers great sunsets and views of the colorful North Woods during foliage season.
Ellingwood Falls is a stretch of fast water and pools on the Swift Diamond River. It is narrow, and gave loggers difficulty when driving logs down the river. This is a favorite swimming and fishing area. There is a bridge over the upper end of the Falls for the Swift Diamond Road, which continues south and west to a locked gate at the Greenough Pond Road. The Swift Diamond Road provides easy access to these falls. Another access is by following the Winter Road, which leaves the Swift Diamond Road a short distance before Alder Brook Cabin. This is the way to go if hiking, biking, or skiing.
Further out the Swift Diamond Road
Logging activity over the past few years has extended this road two-thirds of the way up the west side of the Grant — all the way to Mount Tucker. Areas of interest here for those willing to explore include the East Branch of Four Mile Brook, the East Branch Marsh, and the summit of Mount Tucker (at 2,820 feet, the highest point in the Grant). Though there haven’t been many views from Mount Tucker in the past, perhaps the ongoing logging activity will open some up.
In these remote areas of the Grant, be armed with map and compass, and know how to use them.