The General's Byway

You get both history and beauty on this driveAdmittedly, unless an early snow blankets the roadsides, November is not the state's most scenic month. So we've selected a route filled with historic sites, following New Hampshire Revolutionary War hero General John Stark. The general is known to history for leading the fight at the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775 and the Battle of Bennington in 1776, and to his home state as the originator of its motto “Live Free or Die.” This 34-mile route was designated the General John Stark Scenic Byway in 2008.Begin in Goffstown, west of Manchester on Route 114, taking some time to look around its Main Street Village Historic District, on the National Register of Historic Places. The town's Web site has a walking tour with descriptions and history of its landmarks, including the 1928 cement bridge, one of very few in the state designed by nationally prominent bridge engineer Daniel B. Luten. Notice the fluted concrete lampposts, and look downstream for abutments of a former covered rail bridge. Stop for breakfast, or lunch from the impressive sandwich menu, at the Happy Tomato Café. If you're there on December 5, the Goffstown Historical Society holds an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at its museum in an 1802 general store. Drive north on Route 13 (High Street) to Dunbarton Center, where the 1836 Congregational Church stands west of the common. Route 13 continues to Page's Corner, where Routes 13 and 77 meet. A historical marker identifies the imposing 1759 Molly Stark House at the corner. This childhood home of Elizabeth “Molly” Page was where she married John Stark, and where their first child, Caleb, was born. Fifteen years later he left surreptitiously to join the Battle of Bunker Hill, later serving with his father in the Revolution. On December 5 the town marks the 250th anniversary of Caleb's birth with a fundraising tour of Molly Stark House, not normally open to the public.Turn west (left) on Route 77, to Weare. The 1837 Town Hall is on the National Register of Historic Places; the town meeting hall was on the first floor and the Universalist Church was on the second floor. When Route 114 leaves to the left in South Weare, stay right on Route 77 and about a mile beyond, look for Maplewold Tavern in the tiny settlement of Tavern Village. Its first tavern keeper, William Dustin, served under General Stark at the Battle of Bennington. Continue south on Route 77 to New Boston, where the white Community Church has a bell cast by Paul Revere. One of 16 known in New Hampshire, it is the heaviest of them at 1,415 pounds. It was saved from the fire that destroyed most of the town center in 1887 and moved to the new church. The old fire station — the little square building with the tower next to the town hall — was also rebuilt after the fire and today houses the New Boston Historical Society. Among its collections is the barrel of the Molly Stark Cannon, a brass four-pounder captured at the Battle of Bennington by General Stark's troops. He presented “Old Molly” to the New Boston Artillery Company for its part in the battle.Before returning to Goffstown, detour briefly south on Route 13 through the Davis Scenic Drive, a 3.3-mile stretch of country road dedicated to Ronald Charles Davis, a more modern-day local hero who was killed in the Vietnam War in 1970. Route 13 in the opposite direction returns to Goffstown, or take a slightly longer way with a stop at Just Like Mom's Pastries for one of their legendary whoopie pies. To get there, head back north on Route 77 for about 2 miles and turn right onto Middle Branch Road. When it ends at Route 114, turn right and look for the bakery at the corner of Riverdale Road. Route 114 continues into Goffstown.
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