Walking into Wardsboro’s Past
Hidden in North West Bay Brook’s woods are the remains of Wardsboro where farmers once raised crops, floated logs down the brook into Lake George, and sent hemlock bark to tanneries. The Meyer’s thousand-acre Alma Farm with its imported cattle and purebred horses was the focus of the community. The family’s summer homesite, now the Alma Farm Park, makes a good starting place for exploring the past.
When I visit this green space, I try to imagine the sprawling cottage the Meyer family occupied here. Across the road, near the “North 9N” sign I find a few bricks from the days when the five Meyer children crossed here to play at their grandmother’s home (moved years ago to a site overlooking North West Bay).
Unmarked dirt Padanarum Road meets 9N just north of the park, its shady track inviting me to walk into the heart of old Wardsboro.Just beyond the one-lane bridge, white pines tower, planted by the Civilian Conservation Corps “boys” in the 1930s after all the farmers had left and the state had bought the land.
After about a mile I reach the barway-stopsign that marks the site of the Alma Farm tenant house and barns. To the right of the barway is the partly filled cellarhole while to the left, beyond a large uprooted maple tree, I stumble across remnants of the horsebarn in the woods. When I walk away from the road down the farm lane I find footings of the big cowbarn, where community dances used to attract folks from miles around. All hidden in the pines!Continuing along the road I go on a treasure hunt, as I look for other signe of Wardsboro. First I find the tumbled rock walls of Jay Weavers blacksmith shop on the right just before the “million dollar bridge”. (Beyond the bridge I turn right onto unmarked Wardsboro Road.) More treasures follow: the schoolhouse (private property) on the left; the teacher often boarded at the Alma Farm… and open field on the right (after I hike high above the brook) where various Wards lived; roses still bloom near the cellarhole… further on, the forest opening at a sandbank where Wards and, later, Nortons lived; its cellarhole hidden in trees on the left… down a rise to the Royal Potter farm beyond another barway-stop-sign; an overgrown lane leads across the stream to flat land where farmers raced horses… lastly, the Wardsboro Cemetery past a driveway and steeply up hill; among the topsy-turvy stones original settler Zechariah Ward (1842) is the first, and infant Emma Clark (1909), the last.
After a rest to nibble my lunch and try to decipher grave markings, I turn back, and continue to look for treasures as I retrace my steps. I find large sugar maples planted for shade, milkweed in fields attracting butterflies, tamarack trees at the Royal Potter farm – I woonder what treasures you will discover.
Trailhead: Alma Farm Park – From the south, follow Rt 9N 5.5 miles north of County route 11 (access road to Northway Exit 24). From the north, follow Rt 9N south from Hague over Tongue Mountain, across marsh to Park on the right.
Wardsboro Road can be walked to Rt 8 in Graphite, but it is maintained only half a mile beyond the cemetery.
A more detailed auto Wardsboro tour brochure is available at Bolton Town Hall.