Autumn in New England 2008 travel blog


before and after

shower in the round

dining room


don't fence me in

golden bower

golden foreground

lake reflections

Lake Winnepesaukee close up

zig zag fence

worth climbing a hill for

Winnepesaukee overlook

Castle in the Clouds was built in 1914-1915 by the millionaire shoe manufacturer Thomas Plant (1859-1941) for his second wife, Olive. His was the classic rags to riches to rags story. Poverty caused him to drop out of school in the 8th grade and go to work in a shoe factory. He worked his way up and used his inventive mind to make the shoe production more efficient. When he sold his factory he made millions and the Castle sucked up a lot of them. It was not particularly lavish, but for the time it was an incredibly modern house. At a time when people didn't even bathe regularly, he had showers in six bathrooms that sprayed the occupants from 270º. He had electricity generated by the water flowing from the mountains at the top of his estate down to the shore of Lake Winnepesaukee. He used brine to refrigerate food in the kitchen. And the views of the lakes below were spectacular out of every window. Thomas was 5'1"; Olive 6'1". As a joke he built a tiny study that had an entrance so small that he had to bend down to enter. It was his hideaway from Olive. The home and outbuildings were made from local stone. Plant wanted each stone to be a hexagon. The average stone mason could shape three stones a day into the required shape. Was it worth it? The property was assembled from the private Ossipee Mountain Park, an observation area called the Crow's Nest, and a variety of other lodges and buildings. On this property he build the mansion, a stable/garage, gatehouses, a greenhouse, farm buildings, and a golf course. The property eventually extended to 6,300 acres. Today part of the property houses a bottled water plant, so some of the water we saw rushing down the mountainside ends up in those clear plastic bottles that are clogging are land fills.

Plant lost his fortune by making a series of bad investments including purchasing Russian bonds just before the revolution and his house was auctioned off. Luckily, it was bought by one of his admirers who allowed him to live there until he died at 82. The furnishings remained with the house and the place is a popular tourist attraction today. We went there for a final photography site, but it the rain was pouring and the clouds hung low. We enjoyed the interior of the home, but felt so frustrated when we looked out its windows to the great views we almost could see.

Today dawned clear and bright, so we headed back to the Castle and toured the grounds. The photographs we took today truly do justice to the fall beauty that is New England.

Then we started the trip toward home driving about three hours into southern Vermont. We are camped on top of a mountain and the proprietor told us that the peak of fall color here was over two weeks ago. The branches are bare and the campground has turned off the water in anticipation of the 24º low forecast for tonight. But all we need to do for another color fix is to head down the hill and enjoy the color again.

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