MAMMOTH ROAD: The Road to Kill all Roads, Part 2
PELHAM, NEW HAMPSHIRE: Incorporated 1746
“Bienvenue – Welcome to New Hampshire. Live Free or Die,” greets you at New Hampshire’s portion of Mammoth Road. Ray’s Stateline Market welcomes you with beer, wine, tobacco, lottery tickets, and the “last stop for low New Hampshire prices.”
Pelham has rolling hills, residential houses, cows in the fields, llamas on a farm, and the George M. Muldoon Park. In the late 1970s, Teresa Muldoon donated over 56 acres of land to the town for hiking trails, football, baseball, and soccer fields, playgrounds, and a disc golf course. Mrs. Muldoon, the former Teresa Quigley, donated the land in honor of her husband. She was an English teacher in the Nashua school system.
A Nashua Telegraph article wrote that accepting the gift of the land was to be debated. The article by Mary Gosling writes, “Leo LeClerc argued that it does not need to remove any more land from the tax rolls.” He continued by saying that, “the town does not need any more parks as taxpayers cannot afford to use them.” Luckily for Pelham residents, they ignored LeClerc’s reasoning, and the land was accepted. Teresa Muldoon went on to donate land to Rivier College, which they then sold and established the Muldoon Gymnasium and the Muldoon Fitness Center in her name.
WINDHAM, NEW HAMPSHIRE: Incorporated 1742
Do not make the mistake of saying ‘Windum’ when in ‘Wind-Ham,’ if you want to be politically correct when traveling there. Once you are in Windham, you cross over state highway Route 111 and just before the Mammoth Road bridge is a short road named Anderson Road. At the top of the hill is the Union Hall. Built-in the summer of 1880 for just $650, it is an example of Federal-style architecture. The simple rectangular building was paid for by the selling shares for $5.00 each. A ladies’ aid society known as The Neighborhood Club used it for “literary, social and religious needs” of the town. Sometime in the 1940s, a “Harvest Supper Dance & Whist” event was held with the price of entry 40 cents. According to Windham NH History, in the 1970s, the club was restricted to a membership of just “one hundred individuals.” I can only imagine that those memberships are tightly held and passed down through generations.
LONDONDERRY, NEW HAMPSHIRE: Incorporated 1722
Historical marker #166 is the site of the Londonderry Town Pound. The official marker says, “Stray farm animals were confined here by elected pounders or reeves until ransomed by their owners.” Merriam-Webster defines a reeve, as “a local official charged with enforcement of specific regulations.” The term pounder comes simply from pound keeper, in today’s language, the local dog catcher. In 1730 when this structure was built, their job was to corral stray cows, pigs, chickens, farm animals that had strayed from their owners until a fine could be paid to get them back, noted as ‘ransom’ on the state sign.
Another important landmark is the Londonderry Presbyterian Church that sits at the corner of Mammoth Road and Pillsbury Road. On Sunday, October 27, 2019, they celebrated their 300th anniversary. “The congregation as a whole came from Ireland and had their first sermon under a tree.” A timeline circles the walls with important events noted in their 300th year that includes the church hiring its first full-time, female pastor, Pastor Karla Diaz.
MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE: Incorporated as Manchester 1846
There is much to say about Manchester having worked there for over 14 years. It is a diverse community with a blue-collar, hard-working vibe that continues to transform itself into a leading high-tech workplace and a safe place to live even while dealing with being a refugee resettlement city and the struggle with the homeless population and the opioid crisis.
But, 656 Mammoth Road is an oasis of growth, pun intended. Demers Garden Center has beaten the odds and is a single location greenhouse and garden center that has a behemoth Home Depot store not so far away. This family from a rich French-Canadian lineage has stayed in business for over forty-nine years. They grow their own geraniums. They grow the most spectacular poinsettias in an array of colors that will amaze you with their size, beauty, and longevity. People come from all around to talk to the Demers siblings that run the operation. Diane, Suzanne, Michael, and Robert – they will know you by name, and if you just meet them, you will not forget theirs. It is a family operation started by their father, who passed a few years ago. Their mother still lives next door.
If you want personal, yet cheeky service, Demers Garden Center is worth the trip when spring arrives. Remember, no planting before Memorial Day.
The Derryfield Country Club is located at 625 Mammoth Road. It was established in 1932 and is just one of three municipally-owned golf courses in the state. So why is a golf course relevant in an article about Mammoth Road? In this case, it’s not the course to know; it is the knowledge of a man who worked there as the golf pro for over 25 years, Mike Ryan. While I did not know him, in reading his obituaries and hearing my fellow coworkers talk about him, in my opinion, he deserves mention. Truth be told, I love golf and do not play it anymore. It’s a hard game. And so I just wanted to share a quote from ‘the Commish’ and the Live Free Golf obit he wrote about Mike Ryan. He posted on December 3, 2018, “from CYO and high-schoolers, and even younger players, to sometimes cranky senior citizens. Ryan treated them all with the class and grace that were part of his makeup. He did so even while suffering recurring and serious bouts with cancer. It was testimony to his style that few of those golfers even knew of his illness.” We want to know about a man known as a “gentle soul.”
HOOKSETT, NEW HAMPSHIRE: Incorporated 1822
We end in Hooksett, New Hampshire, not with a bang but with a whimper. The Mammoth Road ends there with just a little less than two miles of the 29.3-mile length. That part of the road has house after house lining the section proving that the straight shot access from Lowell to Hooksett allowed those who wanted to escape to the beauty of New Hampshire could get there easily with Mammoth Road. But, like all good road-killers, Interstate 93 rolled into New Hampshire servicing Salem, Manchester, Concord, and beyond.
When you take this historical journey, go beyond Mammoth Road to U.S. Route 3. Head north, and in just a few miles, you will see the beauty of New Hampshire and why we came. See the rolling hills and peaceful vistas. Go to the Hooksett Library while you are up that way. There are kind people who work there and will ignore ringing phones to help direct you to the places you want to see.