Winter is waning and Spring is just around the corner. This time of year brings the melting of snow and with it, our beloved winter trails and outdoor spaces become, well, a bit muddied. It’s the perfect time of year to hang up your snow boots, grab a maple latte, and head out for a driving tour of the historic Monadnock Region!
This corner of New Hampshire offers a storied network of roadside historical markers, artworks, and even self-guided, city-walking tours. See below for all the online planning tools you need to map out your perfect weekend excursion.
Highlights of the region’s markers include such varied subjects as:
- The Pierce Homestead – home of the 14th President of the United States, Franklin Pierce, which now houses a museum and state park. Marker Number 065
- The childhood home of Samuel Wilson, who supplied beef to the US Army in 1812. Why is this important? You might know him better as “Uncle Sam!” Marker Number 035
- Home of Revolutionary War Drummer William Diamond, who sounded the drum following Paul Revere’s ride signaling the start of the American Revolution. Marker Number 0244
- The South Stoddard Glassworks – from 1842 to 1873, glassmaking was a major industry; in recent years Stoddard glass items have become highly collectible. Marker Number 052
- An homage to slain civil rights activist Jonathan Myrick Daniels, including a self-guided walking tour in Keene. Marker Number 0226
- The Homestead Woolen Mills Dam, which powered the mills in West Swanzey, was removed. In the background, to the left of the marker is the former woolen mill building and on the right the historic Thompson Covered Bridge.
Marker Number 0232
So, where to start?
The New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources offers lists of markers by town, by marker number, and showcases an online interactive regional map (select the “Monadnock” tab for details of the region’s markers). Additionally, the Historical Marker Database offers a comprehensive list with details on the markers and war memorials by county.
Author and historical marker enthusiast Michael Bruno has compiled a helpful and comprehensive set of printable checklists by region for your adventure! His book, Cruising New Hampshire History is available at Toadstool Bookshop locations in both Keene and Peterborough, and his website is updated as new markers are added.
If it’s a sunny day and you’d like a walk, the Historical Society of Cheshire County offers two self-guided walking tours in downtown Keene. The first is a charming hour-long, two-mile “Walk through Keene’s History,” audio tour recorded by third graders at Keene’s Franklin Elementary school. The tour showcases colonial burying grounds, churches, and historical figures who shaped the city’s growth from the 1700s to today. The second features works of the famous, Keene-born muralist, Barry Faulkner, located in various businesses downtown.
If you’ve ever read a roadside marker and wished you could “see” the subject, we have just the thing for you! A Walldogs Magical History Tour location in 2019, Keene was visited by mural artists from around the world commissioned to paint public artworks commemorating the people and historical events that helped to form the region.
All mural subjects were chosen by the community and this is a self-guided history tour you will not want to miss! Sixteen gorgeous Walldogs murals and five additional pieces, including original pieces from Barry Faulkner, are within the city limits awaiting your visit. (While you’re out, watch for two murals painted for the filming of the movie Jumanji in 1994: the Parrish Shoes mural on the brick wall at the corner of Main Street and West Street and the Coca Cola mural on the brick wall on Winter Street, just off of Central Square.)
For those interested in learning more about the rich history of the Monadnock Region, the Monadnock Center for History and Culture in Peterborough (formerly the Peterborough Historical Society Museum) and the Historical Society of Cheshire County in Keene offer wonderful events and resources. Be sure to check online ahead of your visit for up-to-date operational hours and health protocols.
A quick day trip is a great way to fill the time while we watch and wait for the onset of Spring. all while maintaining COVID safety protocols. From historical markers to stunning murals, this region’s rich historical heritage has something to offer everyone!