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CLOSE-UP ON WARNER, N.H.

Bridge to the past

Small town honors a strong sense of tradition while moving ahead

The Waterloo Bridge over the Warner River is among Warner's attractions.
The Waterloo Bridge over the Warner River is among Warner's attractions. (Mark Wilson/ Globe Staff)
Email|Print| Text size + By Ellen Albanese
Globe Staff / January 16, 2008

Warner has a lot more to offer than its size and population would suggest. Among the town's scenic attractions are two covered bridges that cross the Warner River; both are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Dalton Bridge, built in 1853, is also called the Joppa Road Bridge, since it's on Joppa Road; Dalton is the name of the family that owned the property the bridge abuts. The Waterloo Bridge, which dates from 1840, is just above a site where lumber, paper, and grist mills once operated using the power of the river. One former mill building is now a home, and the owners still use water power for electricity. Warner's other claim to fame is its annual Fall Foliage Festival (wfff.org). This year's festival, scheduled for Oct. 11 and 12, will mark the 61st anniversary of an event that brings thousands of people into the downtown to enjoy food, entertainment, carnival rides, and crafts against the backdrop of autumn's natural splendor. Proceeds from the festival support community projects.

Play

Rollins State Park (off Route 103, 603-456-3808, nhstateparks.com/rollins.html, seasonal, adults $3, children age 11 and under free) on the south slope of Mount Kearsarge, offers a 3.4-mile auto road from the park entrance through woodlands to the parking and picnic areas. The picnic area, in a wooded glen beneath granite ledges, affords views that stretch from Mount Monadnock to the hills of New Hampshire's coastal plain. A half-mile trail to the summit of Kearsarge leaves from the picnic area. While you shop for heart-healthy buffalo meat, the kids can check out the herd at Yankee Farmer's Market (360 Route 103, 603-456-2833, yankeefarmersmarket.com, open Monday, Thursday, Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 9-4). This working buffalo farm has a retail store offering buffalo, venison, ostrich, poultry, and pork, in addition to farm products such as maple syrup, honey, jams, and jellies.

Do

The New Hampshire Telephone Museum (22 East Main St., 603-456-2234, nhtelephonemuseum.com, open Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday May-October, Wednesday and Saturday November-April) traces telephones from Alexander Graham Bell through manual switchboards, party lines, rotary phones, and cellphones. Curators and cofounders Dick and Paul Violette, a father-and-son team with a combined 80 years working for the telephone industry and a penchant for collecting, give entertaining and informative tours. Mount Kearsarge Indian Museum (Kearsarge Mountain Road, 603-456-2600, indianmuseum.org, open daily May-October, weekends in November) has an impressive collection of artifacts from Native American tribes of the East, Plains, Southwest, and Pacific Northwest. Displays of baskets and beadwork are especially striking. The museum's Medicine Woods Trail, on land reclaimed from a dump, is a self-guided walk that highlights more than 100 plants Native Americans used for food, medicine, dye, shelter, and tools.

Fuel

Foothills of Warner (15 East Main St., 603-456-2140, 6 a.m.-2 p.m., lunch entrees $6-$8), a sprawling restaurant with an in-house bakery, reminded us of Mayberry, with its country plaid valances over picket fence-shape shutters and those aggravating table games with colored golf tees on a perforated wood triangle. The walls are hung with plaques featuring homespun aphorisms, and beverages are served in mason jars. There's a good selection of soups, salads, and sandwiches. Another lunch or early dinner choice is Charlie Mac's Pizzeria (17 East Main St., 603-456-2828), featuring calzones and salads in addition to traditional pies. White Mountain Gourmet Coffee (2 East Main St., 603-456-2033, whitemountaingourmetcoffee.com) serves a variety of freshly roasted coffees, along with muffins, pastries, soups, sandwiches, smoothies, and ice cream. For a more traditional dinner you'll have to venture beyond the town borders. The Appleseed Restaurant in neighboring Bradford (63 High St., 603-938-2100, appleseedrestaurant.com, dinner entrees $12-$20), a family-run operation for more than 30 years, offers dinner Tuesday through Sunday and a Sunday breakfast buffet. In summer you can dine on a deck overlooking Lake Todd, and off season there's always a fire in the wood stove.

Rest

Local bed-and-breakfasts include The Maples at Warner (69 East Main St., 603-456-6275, $89-$119 double), a 1790 Colonial on 4 acres with six guest rooms. Cheryl and Kevin Blais "fell in love with the town" while passing through on a motorcycle trip two years ago, according to Cheryl. They bought the property, began renovations, and opened last April. The pet-friendly inn serves a continental breakfast of homemade muffins, breads, pastries, granola, fresh fruit, and gourmet coffee and tea. Turtle Pond Farm (4 Bean Road, 603-456-2738, turtlepondfarm.com, $125-$145), named for the box turtles visitors may see in the area's ponds, offers cottages with a swimming pool and tennis court on the site of the former Maple Ridge Inn, which burned down in 1991. Walt and Debbie Bury bought the property in 1995 and restored the three 19th-century cottages. Each has a queen bed, refrigerator, screened-in porch, and gas fireplace. Gossler Camps (18 Fourth Road, 603-456-3679, gosslercamps.com, $525-$600/week) has seasonal one- and two-bedroom housekeeping cottages on Tucker Pond with swimming, boating, and fishing. Sailboats, rowboats, canoes, kayaks, and paddleboats are available free of charge to campers.

Shop

Rowe Mountain Fair Trade (25 East Main St., 603-456-2404, rowemountain.com) claims to be the first 100 percent fair trade shop in the state. Owners Rick Stewart and Megan Hunt left jobs in the private sector just over a year ago to focus on their passion for fair trade. Top sellers include gourd work from Mayans in Peru, bamboo and ceramic items from Vietnam, and signed embroidery from a co-op of Afghan women. At any given time some 30 to 40 countries are represented, said Stewart. The Rolling Pin (17 East Main St., 603-456-2590) is a charmingly crowded, colorful shop featuring pasta shaped and colored like seashells, gourmet soup mixes, flavored oils and vinegars, aprons, butter bells, great gift baskets, pottery, whisks that look like squid, and an enormous collection of rolling pins. Wingdoodle Studio Workshop and Gift Gallery (19 East Main St., 603-456-3515, www.wingdoodle.com) offers a huge selection of arts and crafts items, such as ink blocks, paints, stamps, punches, polymer clay art, and scrapbooking supplies, as well as toys, puppets, and games. Crafty parents will appreciate the carpeted alcove playroom for children. Woodsum Gallery (25 East Main St., 603-456-2025, www.woodsumgallery.com) features the work of local artists in painting, photography, glass, jewelry, sculpture, pottery, and note cards.

Party

For clubs and entertainment most folks head for Concord, 18 miles away, or nearby New London, the home of Colby-Sawyer College. In fact, when we asked about nightlife in Warner, most people just laughed. As it turns out, the happening place in town is MainStreet BookEnds (16 East Main St., 603-456-2700, mainstreetbookends.com). Not only does this sprawling complex have a terrific selection of books and a game room for children, it also offers evening programs ranging from book signings to lectures to barn dances. Friday evening events this winter include a lecture series on Buddhism Jan. 18 and 25, an environmental travel series in February and March, and a Chicago-style blues night Feb. 29. Events are held in the cavernous barn and gallery attached to the bookstore, and most are free of charge.

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