Uncanoonuc - an Indian name that means "woman's breast"
Located entirely within the town of Goffstown, with an elevation of 1321 feet. The range consist of two mountains north and south. The mountains have seen many uses over the years including hiking, skiing, fire lookout, summer resort.
June 12, 1877 a charter was granted to the Uncanoonuc Road Co. to build and keep in repair a road, starting from Mountain Road to the summit of Uncanoonuc Mountain. Dedicated September 1877 the Pierce family who's home set back off of Mountain Road acted as toll gatherers. Toll fees were 10 cents for walking up the road and 25 cents for a horse and carriage. The road was abandoned upon completion of the Incline Railway in 1907.
Of the two, south mountain has been used heavily for recreation. On the 25th of March, 1903, certain citizens of Manchester and towns of New Hampshire led by J Brodie Smith were incorporated under the name of the Uncanoonuc Incline Railway and Development Company, and were given power under their charter to construct, maintain and operate an electric railway from some point near Shirley Station (intersection of Wallace Road and Mast Road) to the summit of the Uncanoonuc Mountains and also to construct suitable buildings upon the summit for the convenience of the traveling public, all of which must be constructed within two years. The cable car line up Uncanoonuc also served to promote the building of summer homes on the mountain, one of which was owned by J Brodie Smith a pioneer in the electrical industry in New Hampshire.
In February, 1905, the time was extended until March 25, 1907, for the building of the road, and the legislature also granted them the right to make physical connection with the Manchester Street Railway. The electric cars of each corporation could be run over the lines of the other as per agreement of parties.
The first part of the line was built as a two and a half mile conventional streetcar line. The line branched off the Manchester Street Railway at Shirley Junction and went to the base of the south mountain. A streetcar ride from Shirley Junction to the base station took 15 minutes, but since the conventional streetcar line was on a 4.5 percent incline, it took only 6 minutes to return to Shirley Junction. At the base of the mountain was a transfer point between the conventional line to the incline. It wasn't until June 8, 1907 when the railway opened. The ruling grade of the incline was a grand 35% and the running time was five minutes. Equipment on the incline was two open cars that were connected by a steel cable and were operated like counterbalances. Each incline car was equipped with two 40-horsepower motors and carried a motorman and conductor.
The operation of the incline did not cease at the end of summer. Winter season brought skiers to the mountain with the incline providing transportation to the summit.
The conventional trolley line to Uncanoonuc remained in service until January 8,1938 when the line was abandoned. On January 9, 1938 bus service replace the trolley line to Goffstown. The incline continued to operate until the 1940s. In 1941 a forest fire destroyed approximately 500 feet of track and steel cable. Even though the incline was still being used to shuttle skiers there was no effort to rebuild after the fire. Shortly after the fire the remaining track was torn up and the cars junked.
Today at Uncanoonuc one can find traces of the railway with remnants of hardware scattered along the incline. Perhaps one of the more interesting monuments besides that of the various foundations left behind, are the bodies of four Manchester "Rapids" at the base of the mountain. When the Manchester Street Railway ceased using the interurban cars, five of them were left at Uncanoonuc, four at the base and one on the summit. The car on the summit was stripped by members of the Seashore Trolley Museum for restoration of Manchester & Nashua St. Ry. #4. The other four cars at the base are there today, serving at residences.
Constructed by Ottis Elevator Company
Single track 2380 feet long with a turnout midway
800 foot vertical elevation
35 % grade
1 3/8 inch cable connected the two cars weighed 3 1/2 tons
Two cars one labeled North the other South
Open wood bodies on steel under frames mounted on four-wheel trucks
Exterior painted red with natural wood interior
11 cross benches, one on each platform (end) and nine between the bulkheads
The platforms and benches were tilted at an angel so that passengers were almost level ascending or descending
Eight feet wide and forty feet long
Each car had two 40hp motors, two trolley poles and two controllers
Speed 500' per minute
Incline Time Line
Saturday, June 8 1907 Opened
June 20, 1907 Three workmen die when a trolley car careens down the track from the Base Station towards Shirley Station
January 8, 1938 last trolley runs between Manchester and Goffstown
January 9, 1938 bus service starts between Manchester and Goffstown
April 22, 1938 permission to abandon trolley line between Shirley Station and the Base Station granted, overheads and tracks removed
1941 Fire destroys 500 feet of track and cable, Incline ceases operation
Shirley Junction to the Base Station 5 cents
One way fare on the Incline for adults 15 cents, round trip 25 cents
In the early years the biggest users of electricity were trolley cars which were used heavily during the work week. In an effort to encourage weekend rider ship many electrical suppliers such as Manchester Traction Light & Power Company who owned and operated the trolleys, developed properties on the outskirts of towns providing entertainment for riders and new income opportunities. In the Manchester area the list includes Massabesic Lake, Pine Island Park 1902 -1963, Uncanoonuc Mountain 1907 - 1940 and Canobie Lake Park (1902) which is still in operation today.
5 1/2 stories
60' x 100'
37 - 38 guest rooms
Dining room seating capacity 120
Burned February 16, 1923
Built summer 1923
Burned March 6, 1930
photo courtesy of The Goffstown Historical Society
Built by Henry Laxson in 1930
fell victim to Hurricane winds on September 21, 1938
Built 1948 by Lawrence Putnam
Main dining room seating capacity 72
Torn down 1967
Grand opening advertisement Kenlaw.pdf
Resorts Time Line
June 8, 1907 Uncanoonuc Hotel opens
February 16, 1923 Fire razes Uncanoonuc Hotel
Summer 1923 Pavilion constructed
March 6, 1930 Pavilion burns
Spring of 1930 3rd Mountain resort is built
Hurricane of 1938 destroys 3rd Mountain resort
1948 Kenlaw built, opened June 27, 1948
Became known as The Uncanny Nook around 1958
Possibly used by Missionary Rosebushes of St. Therese
Before May 1967 Kenlaw torn down
1911-1982, razed 1983
Listed as a temporary station in 1911, the lookout appears to have been on the roof of the summit hotel built in 1907. This hotel replaced what seems to have been a 40' observation tower built about 1877. As early as 1850 a passable road to the south summit had been built and the US Coast Survey established a station there that year and again in 1860. In the following years Professor Hitchcock and Quimby had stations there. The mountain hotel burned in 1923, and in 1926 a new 80' steel tower was put in place. The station remained in service until 1981 and was removed soon afterward.
For more history on fire towers we recommend Forest Fire Lookout Association
Skiing & Hiking:
Print a copy of the hiking trails
Uncanoonuc Hiking Trails.pdf
Uncanoonuc Lake also known as Mountain Base Pond
average depth 5 feet
maximum depth 10 feet
normal water storage is 90 acre feet with a capacity of 150 acre feet
Uncanoonuc Lake is contained by a dike one one end and a dam on the other. The dike is 16 feet high and 131 feet long, construction completed in 1954. Built in 1936 the dam is made of concrete. It's height is 9 feet with a length of 147 feet. Maximum discharge is 97 cubic feet per second. The lake is supplied by and feeds into Dan Little Brook.
Uncanoonuc is now home to numerous communications towers, including WZID, WMUR
Sources of Information
History of Goffstown NH 1734 - 1920, by George Plummer Hadley
Tractions & Models September 1971, Uncanoonuc Incline Railway by O.R. Cummings
Memory Banks I, II & III by Doug Gove
Union Leader articles