25. CULHANE HOMESTEAD AREA

 

 

SPRUCE WOODS. This attractive section is designed as a loop off of the main campground road. Like some other sections, it was built on a pasture of the pre-campground era. The spur containing Sites 55 to 64 follows the old pasture area up a gentle slope to the west.

On the north side of the spur, to the rear of Sites 51, 53 and 55, there was additional pasture in 1915. Unlike most other pastures this piece was never developed for camping.

Instead, it was used by the Forest Service in part for a gravel pit, and up slope of that for a fifties era crew quarters cabin and occasional temporary overflow camping.

Proceeding north thru the woods from Sites 51, 53 and 55 and approaching the rear of the maintenance building, the 1915 map included the notation “Spruce Woods.” The area so designated begins just north of the Gravel Pit. It may be significant that no where else on the 1915 survey was there such a specific descriptive term for a feature on the landscape.

Spruce Woods on 1915 map, to north
of Old Culhane House (north is at left)

We can speculate that either spruce trees were so concentrated and noticeable here that the surveyor in 1915 added the extra description, or that this area was already a landmark known by that name and was so recorded.

In either case the incorporation of the term Spruce Woods by the USFS as a Campground name has historical significance.

The only road development here by 1935 was a short entryway on what is now the southern of the two access points, the exit point of the loop today. By 1940 Spruce Woods was fully developed and has remained unchanged since. Circulation in 1940 was one way counter clockwise and has remained unchanged.

Spruce Woods Site Details: The small spur off of the main campground road that fills the interior of the loop had four sites in 1940. These have been reduced to only two today, Sites 74 and 75.

The entrance and north end of the loop section was heavily developed with nine sites in 1940, but only four, Sites 51 to 54, remain. The nine sites here in 1940 were served by seven small shoulder parking areas, while each site today has its own private driveway.

The eight camps on the remainder of the loop, Sites 65 to 72, were organized as six in 1940, a rare example of where the 1940 site layout was made denser by the 1960 era reorganization.

Traveling up the spur off of the loop section, the first site is Camp 55 on the right. This was not in existence in 1940. Today there are nine sites past this point, Camps 56 to 64. In 1940 there were eight with a somewhat different arrangement.

Facing upgrade, Sites 57 and 58 were not present in 1940. Two forties sites were in existence at or near what are today Sites 59 and 60.

One site was at the top of the spur at today's Site 62. It is nicely built into the grade with field stones and logs and is at the highest elevation for a camp site in the Campground.

In 1940 there were five other sites clustered here in what was still an open area. Now containing Sites 56, 63 and 64, the vicinity of the birch trees near Sites 56 and 64 still retains a hint of the openness of 1940.

CULHANE HOMESTEAD. The placement of the notation “Old Culhane House” on the 1915 map provides evidence that the Culhane home was still standing in 1915, unlike the Copp home to the south which was described on the same map as a ruin.

According to Sarah Jordan:

In the 1840’s the Baker Family established a farm less than a quarter mile north of the Copp Farm: John R. Baker, with his wife and four children, appears on the 1850 US Population Schedule and Agriculture Census beside the Copps and their four children.

Soon after 1850, the Bakers moved on, and the Culhane family occupied their 200 acre farm, purchasing from John Bellows in 1858 “the same farm formerly occupied by John R. Baker as included in my bond to said Patrick and Thomas [Culhane] dated March 11, 1851, now occupied by said Thomas and Patrick (Coos County Burnt Records Vol. 14, p. 331).

The 1850 Census reports Hayes Copp as 43 that year, John R. Baker, occupation painter, as 40. The Baker Farm in 1850 was valued at $500, and the Copp Farm a similar value, the figure partially illegible on the 1850 census record.

 

DRAWING TO BE PRODUCED

Colorized excerpt from 1915 map, showing
Culhane Farm at center. Dark green denotes
woods, light green pasture, and yellow cropland.

The Culhanes appear in the Census records for 1860, 70 and 80. In 1860 we find Patrick Culhane age 35 and Thomas Culhane age 32.

The 1860 records show Patrick Culhane, 35, no occupation listed, and wife Judith, 26, with real estate valued at $300. We also find Thomas Culhane, 32, and his wife Rachel, 34. He was listed as a farmer with real estate valued at $300. Perhaps they shared the value of a $600 property?

While the two male relatives are listed as living at separate “post numbers”, we have no evidence that there were ever actually two separate Culhane dwellings. One piece of evidence is that later, in the 1870 census, Patrick and Thomas are clearly listed as occupants of the same dwelling.

Patrick was born in Ireland and lived 1826-1888. Wife Judith was born in New Hampshire and lived 1833-1897. Their six children, as recorded on grave stones in the Evan’s Cemetery on combined Routes 2 and 16 in Gorham:

1. Caroline Culhane, 1852-1886 (?), married Thomas Kendall
2. Louise Culhane, born 1854.
3. Florilla Culhane, 1856-1876.
4. John Culhane, born 1857, died as child.
5. James Culhane, born 1859.
6. Ida J. Culhane, 1860-1897.

The 1915 map places the home of the Culhanes at approximately the entrance to Spruce Woods and nearby Site 52.

It was very close to the main campground road and had only a tiny front yard. To the rear an ell stretched back westward.

Dolly Copp Ginger Ale ad,
a treat for early campers.

See second Dolly Copp Ginger Ale ad,
citing the 1928 presidential race, from
the Scott McClory Dolly Copp Collection.

A few remnants of old bottles and other household refuse, assumed to be part of this home’s garbage pit, were still jutting out of the ground here in the early fifties (CH).

While the Copp’s barn was attached to the rear of their home, a different arrangement prevailed here. The 1915 map places the Culhane barn to the east, across the main campground road. Like the house it fronted right on the road, positioned directly across from the house.

Orienting the site of the barn to today's features, it was adjacent to the east side of the main campground road, just north of Site 39 in what is now a small woods.

Casey Hodgdon states that boulders just north of Site 39 today are foundation remnants of the Culhane barn. An old half buried wagon wheel with wooden spokes was visible here into the fifties (CH).

The 1915 map shows the house and nearby barn nicely centered in the middle of the surrounding acreage cleared for agricultural use. But the most practical reason to locate here may have been the presence of a spring, documented on the 1915 map just to the rear of and on the northwest side of the house. The spring was near Site 55 and today's lavatory. The 1915 survey also notes as a landmark a “flat stone” in the vicinity.

A reference in the administrative record to the nearby Gravel Pit include this from August of 1939; “The spring, near the gravel pit, continues to be used and offers a very definite source for the spread of disease amongst the campers... Last summer I recommended that the spring be filled up and not used in the future.”

Perhaps this is the same Culhane home spring as shown on the 1915 map, also the reason why it is no longer visible.

Very near and just north of the Culhane house, the 1915 map identifies a rough farm road leaving the main campground road southwesterly, hugging the base of the little hill.

It is estimated that this road passed thru Site 53 and the rear of Site 55, turning west to parallel the Spruce Woods spur. It then ended where the upslope pasture met the woods.

Like the adjacent house itself this little road was something of a central feature, bisecting the acreage that was cleared pasture on this west side of the main road. It was incorporated into the 1916 cottage plan for the aborted “Dolly Copp Farms” subdivision plan.

Unfortunately, the 5/1989 USFS archaeological assessment had to report that the “Culhane Farmstead site has been almost totally destroyed so there is no National Register potential.”

The 1915 map provides enough detail to allow us to estimate the boundaries of the Culhane farm in relation to today's Campground features. On the west, the original homestead and pasture is now occupied by all of Spruce Woods in combination with the Gravel Pit and the “Crew Quarters” Road areas. On the east, the Big Meadow in its entirety was prime crop land.

None of the maps yet discovered portray property lines in the vicinity. Thus we cannot determine the boundary between the Copp and Culhane properties with certainty. Thus any estimate as to the exact boundary between the two farms remains speculative.

Culhane Brook might have been the logical demarcation line. But not far from the Brook, on its northeast side, between the entrance to Little Meadow and the exit from Brook Loop, the 1915 map placed what may be interpreted as the only depiction of a property line on that map, running eastward.

In 1915 the open, cleared pasture area of Little Meadow ran north to link directly to the Big Meadow crop land, thus those features were likely part of the same farm. But on the south side of Little Meadow, the 1915 boundary of cleared area follows the assumed property line east of the main road for a time.

We can guess from this evidence that the farm boundaries may have met here, between the entrance to Little Meadow and the exit from Brook Loop.