22. HAYES FIELD DRIVE AREA

 

 

To the rear of camp sites on the north side of Hayes Field Drive is a distinct edge of forest. As the 1915 map records this same feature, these sites are believed to be on the northern edge of the original Copp Farm.

Sites here had not been divided into specific camps by 1940. That tent siting options were still unrestricted that year is evidenced by a 1936 memorandum concerning the objections of two campers, one of whom was the renowned Gorham photographer Guy Shorey.

A Forest Service administrator writes “Their only objection being the necessity for leaving their cars a hundred or more feet from the tent.... I informed them that areas of non-restricted parking were available if they wished to use them. Their objection to the area near the swimming pool was because it was too crowded.”

Then an archival memo from 1944 exclaims that “The unrestricted camping area located in the field adjacent to the swimming hole has always been popular.” As Dolly Copp campers well know, even today obtaining a site in this prime open area with its striking views can be highly competitive.

View east down old Swimming
Pool Drive. See full size image.
Source: Scott McClory Dolly Copp Collection.

On Hayes Field Drive and adjacent sections, parking spaces for sites have never been carved into the landscape. As in early days, parking here is still “on the grass.” This exception has nicely preserved the historic farm feel of the area.

See full view of photo above.

Until at least 1987 this accessway was named Swimming Pool Drive, renamed thereafter to Hayes Field Drive. The older name reflected the swimming facility that existed from 1933 until 1957 in back of Site 127. The broad vicinity here was known for over fifty years as “Swimming Pool Field.”

According to Jay Milliken “The name changed due largely to the constant inquiries as to where the ‘swimming pool’ was. The Forest Service changed the name to stop the campers from questions of why, and trying to seek its replacement.”



Historic photo courtesy of late
long time camper Jay Milliken.

 

Painting for sale on Ebay by noted
New Hampshire artist Robert Gordon.

Hayes Field Drive hosts Sites 125 to 136. Leaving the main campground road it runs east then turns south to become Riverside Drive at the little stream.

Note that in the twenties and thirties the bridge over the little stream here was more elaborate, having wooden side guard rails. Bob Cook and Bob Brown remember these guard rails lasting into the fifties.


MIDWAY LANE. Like its neighbors this little lane is entirely on the original Copp Farm. It is host to Campsites 116 to 123. While Site 123 is across the road to the east, signage policy numbers it as part of Midway Lane. To the south across from Sites 116 to 119 is a stream bed and wooded area along it.

The 1940s era fuelwood yard for the area was either across from Sites 116 and 117 or just slightly further south across the stream bed.


SWIMMING POOL. A swimming pool, charged with water directed from nearby Culhane Brook, was maintained for campers between the years 1933 and 1957 east of Site 127. It was constructed by a CCC detail from Kilkenny Camp during 1933. See also 44: Gallery of Old Swimming Pool photos.

Stuart Smith remembers that in early decades, campers at the edge of the watercourse leading down to the Pool, the north side of today's Hayes Field Drive, placed food in containers and submerged them in the Pool's frigid water for preservation.

An issue here is that both the 1915 and 1916 maps place the main channel of Culhane Brook directly thru the Pool site. We can speculate that either this watercourse was relocated to the north in the early thirties to make Pool construction feasible, the course of the Culhane shifted naturally, or early mapmakers kept copying from each other thereby incorporating a repetitive error.

Then the 1935 U.S. Geological Survey map, an authoritative source that seemingly would have corrected earlier errors, agrees with the prior sources that the main channel of the Culhane was thru the Pool site.

But George Brackett and other authorities he consulted do not recall the original Culhane channel ever flowing thru the site of the Pool. Despite the old maps, they believe a manmade diversion created the Pool.

One corroborating reference is from a Berlin Reporter article of 8/31/1933 that refers to a “diversion dam which shunts the water of Culhane Brook around the pool.”

But then Bob Cook says that when he was a child in the fifties, a Campers Association official told him that the Pool was the original channel, and that it was diverted to avoid over flushing in the Spring, and that the old shunt on the Culhane is where the cement barrier is now.

As measured by the scale of the 1940 map the Pool was about 100 feet across and 200 feet long. There was a lifeguard tower on the north side. One memory is that the Pool was primarily used by children.

A much smaller pool just upstream fed into the main pool. Belvin Barnes says that the purpose of this feeder pool was to allow for some warming of the frigid water by sunlight.

Perhaps this was a result of the opinion of a UNH forestry expert whose advice was solicited in 1934; “Professor Johnson.... believes that if it is possible to warm the water before reaching the large pool bathing would become so much more popular that an enlargement would be necessary.”

Roots of the Pool’s demise appear in 1946 Forest Service correspondence with the remark that “There was a possibility that our swimming pool did not conform to State Board of Health regulations.”

Views of the Dolly Copp Campers Association on the Pool are recorded in a memo of October 1946: “They very much regretted the fact that we did not fill the swimming pool for their use this past summer, and very definitely questioned the tentative verbal opinion advanced to us by the State Board of Health that this was an undesirable pool from a public health point of view.”

But swimming here was to continue for a time, as evidenced by a February 1947 memo; “The Forest Service will take steps this Spring to bulldoze the south side of the swimming pool, making a shallower and less dangerous approach on that side.”

Long time camper Elsie Ashworth comments: “The swimming pool was very popular for quite a few years until the perimeter seemed to close in from growth. The camping association deemed it to be unsafe after a couple of incidents of children getting caught under water in the under growth.”

In the early fifties Bob Brown’s parents would not allow him to swim here due to polio concerns, a fear shared by many of their camper friends. Casey Hodgdon says that in the early fifties there were no lifeguards at the pool.

See details of campers in above photo.

Belvin Barnes cites this as a key reason for its closure a few years later. He states that in 1957 the Pool was cleaned out as usual and then used for that season. But in 1958 it was not filled and went unused the entire season.

Then in 1960 it was filled in with earth to insure permanent closure. The site is now grown over with brush.

Yet not far into the woods a readily recognizable dam remnant remains astride the old outlet. Another pool or water channel remnant can be found in the woods to the north.


FLAT ROCK PATH - SOUTH END. From 1933 until 1957 Riverside Drive and other central parts of the Campground had the advantage of being near the Swimming Pool. However, many campers would naturally seek to enjoy the Peabody River itself for water recreation.

Bathers then as today are presented with three options; walk south thru the Campground to the trails leading to Rangers Pool, walk north to Flat Rock Pool, or drive out on to Route 16 to Route 16 to reach a more distant pool such as Holes Number 1 and 2, Flat Rock east side access, Garnet Pool or Emerald Pool.

Flat Rock Pool is at a point on the Peabody River near Route 16 where a large expanse of level bedrock clear of boulders has a depth suitable for wading and some minimal swimming. There are upper and lower pools. Early camper George Brackett says the place name goes back “as far as I can remember.”

The path from Hayes Field Drive
to Flat Rock and on to Big Meadow was
included in a Campground brochure from 1965-75.

Not surprisingly, over the years a path developed from Hayes Field Drive to Flat Rock Pool. A northward continuation of the path links Riverside Drive to the Big Meadow (a one way walk of about two thirds of a mile). This path remains well used today and starts at the rear of the lavatory off of Hayes Field Drive.

Bob Cook and Bob Brown say that the highway expansion near 1960 pushed rocks into the pools that took some decades for the water flow to clear out.

My foot for scale with old
iron rod in bedrock at Flat Rock Pool.


WATER SUPPLY. The earliest drinking water source for campers was the Copp Spring over in the Picnic Area. A spring on the east side of Route 16 on the drive to Gorham was also used by early campers (GB).

A news article of 1932 reports that “the government has laid pipes and has a water system that supplies the entire campground. A camper now says he may pitch his tent over a faucet and have all the comforts of home.”

Today a small water supply utility building is located on the west side of the main campground road just across from the intersection with Hayes Field Drive. A lower and older building of the same dimension was replaced here near 2000 (CH).

This facility was identified on the 1940 map as the water supply “chlorinator house.” A Forest Service letter dating from 1939 stated that “A chlorinator with building for housing same was installed, safeguarding the water system on the camping area.”

A memo of 1944 describes water supply distribution; “There are three distinct water lines from the chlorinator house. One leads to the lower camping area, another to the unrestricted area around the swimming pool, while the third goes to the recreation building and adjacent areas.”

Water supply dam on
Culhane Brook in early years.
Photo courtesy of David Veit

Drinking water was drawn from a dam nearby on Culhane Brook, near the upper end of Brook Loop. Concrete dam remnants are still visible there.

Belvin Barnes recalls that in 1958 plans were for the water supply dam to be abandoned as a more modern supply was on the drawing boards calling for groundwater wells.