28. BARNES FIELD AND ENTRANCE


 

PATH TO BARNES FIELD. Proceeding north down a slight slope towards the open area around the Gate House, before turning right note straight ahead an opening in the vegetation. The path here to Barnes Field and the ski trail was once part of the original Pinkham B Road.

Starting in 1951 and ending in 1966, the year the current Gate House was constructed, one entered Dolly Copp by proceeding straight west off Route 16 to an intersection with a treed triangle in its midst. The choice there was a right to Barnes Field and Randolph or a left into the Campground, now this path.

Once the current entrance was built short segments of the road from the intersection into Dolly Copp were abandoned. Blacktop was removed and this path is the main remnant.

Old 1830's road as path today,
looking south into Campground.

Dating from the eighteen thirties, this accessway now serves foot travel between the Campground and the Barnes Field organizational camping area. It is also designated as a segment of the Hayes Copp Ski Trail.

The 1860 Census for Martins Location lists a Mary Barnes age 53, a farmer with a farm value of $700, born in England.

The 1893 map shows the name “Barnes Brook” in place, although mistakenly applied to the wrong stream (further north, to Bear Spring Brook).

According to USFS archaeologist Sarah Jordan:

By 1857, in addition to the Copps and Culhanes, Yates Barnes occupied the 100 acres of Martin’s Location between the Peabody River and Pinkham Road, bordering the Gorham town line to the north and the Culhane farm to the south (Coos County Burnt Records Vol. 15, p. 220).

Barnes appears to have died soon after, as his wife Mary Barnes is the sole resident at the farm in the 1860 census, and it is labeled “Mrs. Barnes” on the 1861 county map.

The proximity of the Copp Farm, the Baker/Culhane Farm, and the Barnes Farm is in keeping with the organizational trend among farms throughout the White Mountains, in which farms worked in clusters and cooperated in diversified agricultural strategies in order to participate in the local market economy.

As the Barnes home was not shown on the USGS map of 1891, it likely had been dismantled by that date. Unlike the Copp and the Culhane houses, clearly represented on the 1891 map, the exact location of the Barnes farm house is not precisely known. In 2001 this issue was raised as an inquiry to late local history expert Casey Hodgdon.

The question to Casey noted that “The 1861 map has the home of ‘Mrs. Barnes’ east of the Pinkham B Road and adjacent to the Gorham Town Line. But, that site is bordered on the east by a significant stream channel, with the flat area of today's Barnes Field east of the stream. The flat area was farmed in 1915, presumably continuously from first use.”

Continuing, “Did farm houses cling strictly to the edge of roads? Would the house site be on the road, like Culhane’s and Copp’s, or could it have been somewhat east, within today's Barnes Field?”

After a site visit Casey concluded that the house foundation would be buried in the open area of Barnes Field, “a victim of the many rehab jobs the USFS has conducted over the years. I noticed the stream channel and decided it could not have been there. I think the current road up to the field is over the original and the house was up there some distance from the Pinkham B Road.”

There is also a locational match between the Barnes Homestead site and today's Barnes Field is a USFS archaeological assessment of area features dated 5/1989; “Barnes Field- named after Mary Barnes (from England) who is listed as the owner of the Farmstead in 1870. The site has been so heavily impacted by the CCC's and then the campground that there is no {archaeological} significance.”

The entrance from the Dolly Copp Road into Barnes Field crosses over Barnes Brook, in more recent years known as Miss Barnes Brook. That Brook passes thru a steep and scenic channel few ever see on its way eastward to empty into the Peabody River.

The Randolph Mountain Club included the “Miss” for the Brook on its 1969 map of the area. Casey Hodgdon remembers old maps showing the name of this watercourse as Lucy Barnes Brook.

As these maps cannot be located the use of the first name is not verifiable. But using Casey's input to draw the definitive map of the Mount Washington area in the mid-eighties, Bradford Washburn ruled in favor of the title “Miss Barnes Brook.”

BARNES FIELD. This section was in place early enough to be recorded on the 1935 USGS map. But unfortunately there is not much mention of Barnes Field in the old administrative literature.

Barnes Field characteristic
circular loop on 1935 USGS map.

A brief reference from 1938 refers to a “side camping area at Barnes Brook.” Tourist literature published that same year notes that Dolly Copp had a separate group section, presumably here.

There is a passing reference in a USFS memo of 1939 to “Barnes Brook Field.” The 1980 short unsigned history states that in the thirties some CCC workers were quartered here; “The CCC Camp at Barnes Field provided carpenters, stone masons and the maintenance crews.” It was common for larger CCC camps to have such satellite camps to avoid daily transport of men to work sites.

Limitation on historical data for Barnes Field is partly due to the fact that the 1940 map, which has been so helpful thus far, did not extend its view this far north.

After the sixties the radius of the Barnes Field circular roadway was significantly expanded. The original configuration of a spur road capped with a circular loop was retained, but the radius of the loop was increased well beyond its former size.

Early scene in Barnes Field, showing Pine
Mountain Fire Tower
(1939-1975) to north.

This is also the most ‘primitive” part of the Campground in terms of water supply and sanitary facilities. As a piped water supply does not extend this far north it remains pit type rather than flush type toilets.

Drinking water is available by hand pumping at a central well. The pump is something of an educational novelty today as there are many children who have never seen such a thing.

This groundwater source appears to date from 1957, as evidenced by the following quote from the Campers Association newsletter of that year;

In order to more successfully accommodate large groups, a new organization area was established off of the Randolph Road. It is worth taking a walk to see as a very beautiful view is obtained from this location.

An artesian well has been drilled to provide this area with water (over 250 feet deep), and man! what crystal clear and cold water! No more stops at the spring for yours truly- we will sate our thirst at the well.

Barnes Field well hand pump today.

Forest Service literature today references this area as a separate facility, “Barnes Field Campground.” Between mid-May and mid-October it is operated as a group only area on a reservation basis.

But in the colder parts of the year when adjacent Dolly Copp itself is closed all size camping parties are welcome. Be ready for the sharing of these large sites, which is the norm.

During the snow season the sites are well plowed for camper access. AMC literature indicates that such winter camping began to be popular about 1920. Check it out and you will usually find at least one site occupied even on the coldest winter day.

Barnes Field Site Details: The relatively large sites in Barnes Field are numbered from Site 1 to Site 11, counter clockwise. The limit on number of persons allowed on these sites varies with their size, with the total capacity of all eleven sites set at two hundred and four persons.

The center of the circle here was the center of the farm field covering this area in 1915. Today it holds Sites 3, 7, 10, the water supply well and a lavatory. Site 3 can hold fifteen persons, Site 7 has a capacity of eight, and Site 10 holds ten.

The outside of the circle is host to the remaining eight group sites. Site 1 allows for eight persons, the same maximum as for sites in Dolly Copp. The 1915 map shows this area as field, with that original openness extending south, back down along the entrance road, to Dolly Copp Road and beyond.

Site 2 can hold fifteen persons. The steepness to the rear here was generally the edge between field and woods in 1915. A group with a maximum of forty persons is authorized to camp on Site 4, the largest site. The front part of this site was field in 1915 with woods to the rear then.

Sites 5 and 6 each hold groups of up to thirty persons. The front of Site 5 was originally farm field. All of Site 6 is on original farm field area, with the slope to the rear in a wooded condition in 1915. The second of the two lavatories serving this area is between Sites 6 and 8.

Site 8 allows for a maximum of only eight persons and is very private, due to an up hill entry path. While nicely wooded today, in 1915 the line between agriculture and forest was significantly to the north, a distance from this site equal to about the width of the main circle upon which the site fronts.

Interestingly, as the northernmost edge of agricultural area stopped abruptly at the east-west line formed by the Gorham Town Line, we can speculate there was a property line at that point.

Site 9 can hold ten persons, like Site 8 more reminiscent of Dolly Copp sites than their large neighbors here in the organizational area. Then Site 11 is large, authorized for up to thirty persons.

At the rear of Sites 9 and 11 was the edge of woods in 1915. For those who explore in back of these sites the steep brook channel, a major tributary to Miss Barnes Brook, is something of a scenic surprise.

ENTRANCE AREA. Today, turning off of Route 16 onto the Dolly Copp Road, vehicles cross the Peabody River Bridge and then turn into the Campground entrance on the left. This entrance configuration dates only from 1966.

Between 1950 when the bridge here opened and 1966 when the new gatehouse was constructed, the turn into Dolly Copp was a left about one tenth of a mile further west.

There the choice was a left turn into Dolly Copp or right turn towards Barnes Field and Randolph. A triangular traffic island managed the movements.

Looking west at today's gatehouse in
winter with Mount Madison in background.

Looking west at today's entrance road in
spring with Mount Madison in background.

The 1966 entrance relocation was planned to “cut the corner” off of the old angular left turn access, while at the same time laying out the area newly opened for ample check in parking by large motor homes and other vehicles.

This upgrade of access was designed to better manage the growing traffic that, it seems from today's vantage point, would have eventually overwhelmed the 1951 to 1965 era gatehouse area.

The 1915 map shows that much of today's gatehouse area was original farm field, presumably part of the Barnes Farm.

The length of the straight road across the Peabody River Bridge from Route 16 to the Campground entrance is about 1900 feet. Even though there was no thru access here before 1950, part of the entrance road alignment dates back to at least 1935.

The evidence is the U.S. Geological Survey map of that year that identified a low grade roadway on just this alignment, extending from the Campground Road easterly and tapering off some distance before reaching the Peabody River.

The green street signs seen in the area now were all added in 1999. This was part of a “911 emergency” road identification program. As of 2002 this easterly end of the road to Randolph is posted as Dolly Copp Road, while the sign at the Randolph end indicates “Pinkham B Road” (looks like historical purists at that end, good for Randolph).

Proceeding easterly from the Gatehouse, on the right before the junction with Dolly Copp Road can be seen the remnant of an old road traveling east and southeast into the woods. Casey Hodgdon comments: I know the road by the Gatehouse. There are all sorts of old logging roads in that area. They run down in back of the Nature Trail and can be seen down there.”

PHOTO TO BE OBTAINED

Old logging road by gatehouse.

This section ends where visits begin, at the entrance sign out on Route 16. It is unbolted and reversed each winter, as its interior is labeled for the Hayes Copp Ski Trail.

The names of both partners in the famous couple still greet guests, one in the summer and one in the winter.