Page 10 - March Newfound Lake Life
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Page 10 Community
By lucille KeeGan
Recently I was reminder of one of my favorite winter chil- dren’s book, The Iciest, Diciest, Scariest Sled Rider Ever! by NH author Rebecca Rule. This won- derful story is about a group of neighborhood children and the wild ride they took on a traverse sled in a time gone by. I started thinking about how different it is now for the children in our town. We are fortunate to have the sledding hill by the ball field but that is nothing like the long open slopes of the past. It was a long walk to the top but the joyous ride down made it worthwhile. Most of the hillsides have grown over since the farms ceased to exist and the trees have taken back the land.
There was a time when some streets would be closed off after a big snow for children and adults to enjoy sledding. My father lived at the top of Hall Road as a child, what great sliding that must have been, but then the long walk up the hill! Now people expect the street to be cleared and traffic to flow as usual immediately after the snow starts to fly.
Two favorite sledding streets during the late 1800’s were High Street and South Main Street.
Sledding in Bristol
March 2021
mont, used to tell a story about her and her brother hitching there sled to the back of a wood scoot and being hauled up the hillside by the loggers and their work horses. She always re- marked about the exhilarating ride down the trail after reaching the top.
Around fifty years ago Bristol’s young people were very fortunate to have available a place to learn to ski and sled right here in town. The TTCC ( Bristol Community Center) operated a rope tow on a slope off of North Main Street. This hill was also a favorite sled- ding spot for many years after the rope tow ceased operating.
This brings me to the vari- ous sleds that have been popu- lar over the years. The traverse, the runner sled, flying saucers (the aluminum ones of course), the toboggan, cardboard and of course the lunch trays from the cafeteria. The Historical Soci- ety is fortunate to have a traverse sled donated by a member of the Woodward family. I’m sure this sled offered many a wild ride for the Woodward boys!
Perhaps you have heard sto- ries in your family of wild sled rides or maybe experienced one yourself. If you would like to share it with the Historical Soci- ety please do so.
Ice skating was also a winter activity enjoyed by young and old in Bristol. The TTCC (Bristol Community Center) had a rink behind the building with a place to warm up inside the building and in other years there were various rinks on Kelley Park. A warming hut and music created a jovial atmosphere. The fire department and other volunteers maintained the ice. It sure would be nice to have skating available again on the park! If you are in- terested in making this happen the events committee is forming a group to explore this option. When conditions were right, skating was also done on the lake and local ponds with a campfire to warm you up.
Bristol is truly a four season town but I’ll be honest winter is my least favorite season at my age! Enjoy yourselves and all the area has to offer. Bristol is our gem just as it was 100 years ago!
 Can you just imagine the wild ride you could have on a sled coming down into the square?
There is a wonderful story in the Musgrove History of Bristol that tells of just such a ride. It goes like this “Perhaps no bet- ter coasting was ever afforded in Bristol than in January 1883. A slight rain, followed by freezing, made the roads in prime condi- tion, and a beautiful moonlight evening called out large crowds to enjoy this exhilarating sport. South Main Street from Abram Dolloff’s residence to Central Square was alive with both sexes and almost all ages, both as participants and spectators. One of the traverse sleds used, that outstripped all the rest, was twenty-two feet long and would carry from twelve to fifteen men, and, when heavily loaded, trav- eled with the speed of an express train. Monday evening, January 13, ten young men took a ride on this sled. The party consisted of James B. Huckins, Elmer T. Sanborn, Arthur K. Drake, John Preston, Edward F. Kendall, Ed- ward M. Drake, and Edward Huckins. They moved down the hill with great velocity, but when going at its greatest speed the sled crossed a water bar which caused it to spring so high that
the transom bolt came out and the bed piece settled down on the sled in a way that made steering impossible. James Huckin, who held the ropes called to his com- panions to jump: but he, Elmer T. Sanborn and Edward M. Drake were the only ones who succeeded in getting off. Straight
strong current, when pulled out. Ellbridge S. Bickford succeeded in climbing onto the ice about the pier and was drawn up to the bridge by a rope. The others, with some assistance, succeeded in gaining a foothold on the ice on the south shore. The strang- est part of the affair was that no
 as an arrow with fearful velocity the sled sped on: it passed within a foot of the post office steps (at that time the post office was lo- cated in the brick building on the south west side of the bridge over the Newfound River) then through the lattice woodwork between the bridge and the Post office block, as though it were but a cobweb: cleared the fifteen foot wall with a fearful leap, plunging its load of seven human beings into the middle of the Newfound River. E.M. Drake was instantly over the wall and on the ice that skirted the river assisting his companions out of the water. One was just about to be car- ried under the ice below, by the
one was drowned or sufficiently injured to prevent him assisting himself. William B. Locke had one bone of his wrist broken, and this was the only injury received worth mentioning.”
What an adventure that must have been!
Mrs. White, in a letter to the editor of the Bristol Enterprise, 1978, reminisced about snow- shoeing up to the Slim Baker area to a lean-to shelter she and her friends had built. They enjoyed a lunch cooked over a campfire and then slid back down the hill into town. The side hills were free of trees back then thanks to the recent sheep boom.
My mother, a native of Ver-
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