Crystal Lake and Manning Lake

Iron Works Village

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Gilmanton Iron Works

from "Back Porch Tales"

Karl M. Frost & Evelyn M. Ellingson - 1974

Gilmanton Iron Works is in the shadow of the Belknap Range. It was incorporated in 1727.  Twenty-four of the incorporators were named Gilman. Records show that they came from England. In 1778 operations were started on the smelting of iron from the rocks. The ore was taken from Crystal Lake - then called Lougee's Pond - in about twently feet of water, a mile and a half from the iron works. After several years of vain attempts to successfully mine the ore from the lake, and later the Suncook River bed, the operation was discontinued. However, from the commencement of the mining operations, the south end of Gilmanton became known as the Iron Works Village. the town does hold one claim to fame from its' mining endeavors - ore from Gilmanton was used in the anchor on the U.S. Constitution. However, the name Gilmanton Iron Works lives on.

A number of top executives found the serenity of the area just the therapy they needed after a strenuous session in the city. the late Harold E. Fellows, president of the National Association of radio and Television Broadcasters, maintained a home in the town for many years, a welcome change fro his hectic business life in Washington. Janet, his wife, still carries on.  Harry W. Besse, a Boston investment banker and former president of the Boston Stock Exchange, maintains a 450 acre farm on a height east of the town, complete with an airstrip. Besse commutes to Boston most of the year when the weather is favorable.

Crystal Lake is located northwest of the village. The lake covers 441 acres and is in the suncook River system of the Merrimack Watershed. Gunstock Mountain (Belknap Mountain?) looms beyond the pine-fringed shores and shelters the lake where fisherman can find bass, pickerel, perch and other species of fish.

In the 1700s the town boasted several stores, two grist mills and two blacksmith shops. Settlers from outlying districts - at that time in the early stages of settlement, came for miles from Sandwich and other northern towns to trade in Gilmanton. Horses, cattle and other badly needed supplies were available here. At that time it was considered to be quite a metropolis.

Much of the village was destroyed in the great fire of  1915. 

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"There were three blacksmith shops in the Iron Works Village at different times. The first and most famous was located on High Street next to Bob Tibbett's house. It was built by Noah and Joseph Marsh in 1790 and owned by the family as long as it was used. Bill Marsh was the last to operate it. His brother had a harness shop near the back of it in a separate building. Nellie Hughes was Bill Marsh's housekeeper. She was always chewing snuff. In those days women didn't smoke but they did chew tobacco.
 
Henry Ford was intersted in buying the shop about 1928, it being the oldest store in existence at the time, to move to his farm in Sudbury, Massachusetts, but decided it was in too bad condition to be moved.
 
There was a blacksmith shop on land next to the river on Elm Street formerly owned by Frank Place. Mr. Maher has post card picture of it that I gave to him. When digging holes for the garage, many horseshoes were found. Mr. Josiah Goodwin was blacksmith.
 
The last one I remember was in the building that is known as Nelson's Garage (Now Bauman's). "Billy Sunday" Kinsman was the smithy. He got his nickname from an evangelist of that name because of the languatge he used at times - when he wasn't praying. I used to watch him when he was pounding the red-hot iron, shaping it into horsheshoes. How the sparks did flow and how it did ring! He also made beautiful hand-wrought adirons for fireplaces. Does anyone in town have a set of them?"  
Text from "Gilmanton My Home Town"  - Gilmanton Historical Society - Used With Permission
 
This most excellent book is available at Town Hall.

Crystal Lake and Manning Lake are located in the foothills of the Belknap Mountains in beautiful Gilmanton Iron Works

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