Jackson Falls Historic District Walk.

NH Attraction Profiles: Jackson Falls Historic District Walk.


Sacred Trust - The Monkey Wrench Gang Meets the Third Industrial Revolution

Jackson Falls Historic District Walk

The 16B Loop Walk

Jackson, New Hampshire has many reasons to be proud of its heritage. One reason is that Jackson's Wildcat River was the very first river in the United States to be designated a Wild and Scenic River under the national Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Additionally, Jackson was the epicenter of the birth of the White Mountain School of Art in painting. Not actually a school but rather an artistic movement, the WMSA was an outgrowth of the more well known Hudson School of Art in New York.

In 2003 the Jackson Falls section of Jackson, encompassing the area surrounding the Wildcat River was designate a National Historic District. This area is covered in this brief description of the Jackson Falls Historic District Walk. To take this walk, drive north on 16A through the Honeymoon Covered Bridge into Jackson. Just after the right hand turn onto Thorn Hill Road but before the Cassidy Gallery on the north side of 16A a gravel drive diverges left to the community ballfield and a kids fishing pond. Here you'll find free parking available that will allow you to access a walking loop that includes the Jackson Falls Historic District and Jackson Falls. Walking back out to 16A go left for a short distance past the Cassidy Gallery to the junction of 16B (the first of two such junctions, this being the Black Mountain Road end). The Jackson Grammar School and the Jackson Post Office are situated at this junction. If you are visiting in the fall, you'll get to see the Grammar School's contribution to Jackson's renowned Pumpkin People tour, when businesses and citizens create artful sculptures and displays using pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns. In the winter the school also participates in the town's annual Snow Sculpture competition. In any season it is clear that this is a school that is an important part of a very tightly knit community. You are now in the Jackson Falls Historic District. The District follows along the Black Mountain Road to Valley Cross Road and then south on the Carter Notch Road and back to Rte 16A for a distance of about 1.2 miles.

Most of the buildings here were built between the 1860s and the 1930s, and are examples of the community's growth as a summer resort area. The town's reputation as a summer community had been growing since its discovery by the artists of the White Mountain School of Painting - an offshoot of the famed Hudson School in NY - in the mid-nineteenth century.

If you are in it for both the history and the exercise, you can walk the full loop which includes a walk through the early history of Jackson and some beautiful rural roads. However, if you wish to focus strictly on the historic you can make a visit to the Jackson Historic Society in the Old Town Hall shortly up Black Mountain Road and then double back to Carter Notch Road, following it up to Jackson Falls and the Wentworth Castle.

At the Historic Society, where you can peruse their "Museum of White Mountain Art at Jackson" in the restored old Town Hall, there are also extensive archives for research and a collection of 19th century White Mountain art. To do the full loop, continue on at this point to Valley Cross Road (left) through the wilder section of the walk to Carter Notch Road (left) and back to 16A across from the Jackson Community Church.

For the shorter route back track to the other end of the 16B loop (The Carter Notch Road end) - across from the Jackson Community Church - and take another side trip up along the Wildcat River - the first river in the US to receive protection under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. At this point you will be going through the heart of the historic district toward Jackson Falls. The homes and businesses along this route are privately owned but well worth viewing from the road for their historic value. When you reach Jackson Falls (on the right) stop and enjoy the magnificent cascades and before you head back to 16A take a peek at the Wentworth Castle directly across the road from the falls. Built using rocks gathered from the Ellis River it was designed by New York architect William Bates and completed in 1891. While it too is a private residence it is available for special events like weddings - with a side trip to Honeymoon bridge for a final smooch of course!

Heading back down to 16A you will see the Jackson Community Church. Officially a member of the UCC it is, in spirit, a multi-denominational gathering point for people of every faith in this wonderful little community and a welcoming place for the traveler seeking fellowship. In their own words: "We identify as a spiritually diverse congregation with backgrounds ranging from Jewish, Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christian traditions to mainline Protestant denominations, humanists, Unitarians, Buddhists, and more."

Head south again on 16A back past the school and the Cassidy Gallery to your car. If you missed the Cassidy Gallery on the first leg of the trip, be sure to stop in now!

► See Also: Littleton NH Riverwalk.

Posted 6/30/18


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