Gilmanton Iron Works
from "Back Porch Tales"
Karl M. Frost & Evelyn M. Ellingson -
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.