Gale River Settlement
by Rick Russack
The Gale River settlement was part of Bethlehem. An 1893 photograph of a deteriorating mill, is captioned “Abandoned Village”. In 1859, (or 1853 according to files in the Forest Service Supervisor’s Office in Laconia) John Sinclair, a lumberman, built the mill, several homes, a store, and a schoolhouse. Sinclair’s mill finally collapsed in 1906 but all signs of life had vanished years earlier. In this same area, an early logging railroad existed for a short time.  The Gale River Railroad hauled logs to the Waumbek Lumber Co. mill at Pierce’s Bridge in Bethlehem. The company also operated a mill at the Gale River settlement. The Waumbek Lumber Co. operated until 1877. Several cellar holes, and abutments for the railroad line, are still to be seen near the river. The first three miles of the narrow gauge Profile & Franconia Notch Railroad were later built on the roadbed of the Gale River Logging Railroad. The 1860 Walling map of Grafton County shows the Sinclair mill , a blacksmith shop and several other buildings in the southeastern portion of Bethlehem. The mill complex included a clapboard mill as well as a shingle mill. An undated, hand drawn map of the area prepared by the Forest Service includes a “brick kiln” but no other mention of this kiln has been found.
Double clicking these images will allow you to enlarge them.