Applecrest's apple train history and new bistro
An early effort to attract visitors to NH's orchards
Almost a century ago, when the apple harvest in New Hampshire began in the fall, people in Boston would hop on an "apple train" heading north. The train would take them to a stop in Hampton Falls, about a mile as the crow flies from Applecrest Farm Orchards, where they would pick their apples and then head home.
The train was the idea of the farm's owner back in the 1920s. "He was way ahead of his time," says Peter Wagner, who now owns the farm. "It was the first real agritourism, trying to attract people to the orchards."
Wagner doesn't know how long the apple train lasted nor how successful it was, but for sure it was a prelude to the full-fledged agritourism he promotes today on the 225-acre farm — pick-your-own (apples, peaches, blueberries strawberries and raspberries), live music, hayrides, petting zoo, an old-fashioned ice cream barn, corn roasts, strawberry festivals and more.
Another attraction — the fact that Applecrest is said to be New Hampshire's largest and oldest apple orchard, and the oldest continuously operated in the country. A 200-year-old barn is still in use. Some of the buildings date back to the late 1700s.
It's all enough to draw big crowds — "We get 15,000 people here on a typical Sunday," Wagner says.
And now they're embarking on a venture — Applecrest Farm Bistro, which Wagner says takes the farm-to-restaurant concept one step further: they pick it and hand it to the chef. The Bistro is now open and won a 2015 Best of NH award. Find more information here.