Road Trip: Groveton to the Canadian Border
Begin in Groveton, a former lumber town north of the White Mountains, where the Ammonoosuc River used to be filled with logs waiting for the pulp mills. Now a park holds an old coal-fired logging railroad engine and caboose beside the bypassed 1852 Groveton Covered Bridge.
Follow US 3 north through town to Emerson’s Outdoor Equipment (www.emersonoutdoors.com), known throughout the north country as a source of sportswear and everything from canoes to bug repellant.
US 3 continues to Stratford through the flat Connecticut River valley. Look (5 miles) for The Foolish Frog (636-9843) in North Stratford, a quirky museum of frogs in every medium and form, whistles and spinning tops to puppets and kites. Amuse kids with something from their frogcentric gift shop.
The river and road wind scenically through valley farms. A historic marker (left, 6 miles) describes log drives that once filled the river with timber. At Columbia (11 miles), the 145-foot Columbia Covered Bridge spans the Connecticut River to Lemington, Vermont. The 1912 Howe Truss bridge, northernmost of three border bridges, is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Grace (2 miles) was built in 1948 by Roman Catholic Missionary Oblates. Just beyond is Colebrook, the region’s major commercial center. On the left, Le Rendezvous French Bakery (237-5150) is also a chocolatier. At the northern end of town, a right onto Rte. 145 leads to 35-foot Beaver Brook Falls (2.5 miles) with picnic tables alongside.
Return to US 3, continuing north to West Stewartstown (8 miles) and a unique furniture store. Northern Rustic Furniture (246-7025) works with craftsmen to provide beautifully designed furnishings for northern living, items as small as wrought-iron hooks or as large as beds crafted of logs. Across the street, The Spa (246-3039) has grown from a 1927 family diner to a full restaurant serving three meals a day from an extensive menu.
Between West Stewartstown and Stewartstown, the road crosses the 45th parallel, halfway between the Equator and the North Pole. Stewartstown is opposite Beechers Falls, VT, the only point where the two states share a land border, as the river turns east. To see the granite boundary marker, cross into Beechers Falls and turn right along the river; it’s on the left, set at an angle, half in each state.
Back on US 3, just north of Tabor Rd. (about 5 miles), Indian Stream crosses. It gave name to Indian Stream Republic, when settlers’ patience with U.S.-Canadian border disputes wore thin and they proclaimed themselves independent from either country.
In Pittsburgh, the Clarksville Covered Bridge dates from the 1870s. Within the town, geographically the state’s largest, lie all four Connecticut Lakes and Lake Francis, here alongside US 3. A left onto Beach Rd. (3.5 miles) leads to smaller Back Lake and Tall Timber Lodge (www.talltimber.com), where Rainbow Grill is renowned for game dishes, including venison, pheasant and trout.
Turn onto Hill-Danforth Rd. (3 miles) to see mid-1800s Happy Corner Covered Bridge, among the state’s oldest. A dam (1 mile) marks the lower end of First Connecticut Lake, and a right onto Glen Rd. (1.5 miles) leads to The Glen (www.theglen.org), a delightfully old-style lodge overlooking the lake from an idyllic setting in a pine grove.
US 3 is bordered on both sides by state forest through a long stretch known as Moose Alley. Sightings are frequent as moose feed in the low areas, but be careful, since moose have no fear of cars and can bound into the road suddenly. They are wild, big and unpredictable.
Third Connecticut Lake lies to the left just before the international border crossing (22 miles north of Pittsburg). Remember that you need a passport to cross.
There is no way to make this a circular route, although returning you can follow the rolling Rte. 145 from Pittsburg to Colebrook, through Clarksburg and Stewartstown Hollow.
Length of trip: 67 miles