Carter’s Tower of Foolishness

Jefferson, New Hampshire
Carter’s Tower of Foolishness is a unique stone tower located off Route 2 in Jefferson, New Hampshire. The lookout tower is now abandoned.
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About This Location

If you ever find yourself traveling along Route 2 in Jefferson, New Hampshire, keep an eye out for a peculiar sight that often goes unnoticed: Carter’s Tower of Foolishness. While this stone tower may not be widely recognized, delving into its history reveals a fascinating story.

The Enigmatic Tower’s Origins

The tale of Carter’s Tower of Foolishness harkens back to the late 1800s when James Richard Carter, a paper company magnate who owned Carter, Rice & Co., Paper, decided to create a vacation estate in Jefferson, New Hampshire. This period witnessed the wealthy elite constructing vacation homes and grand venues like the Bretton Woods and Mt. Washington Hotels, providing them with escapes from the sweltering city during the summer months. After completing his house and the estate’s grounds, James Richard Carter is believed to have embarked on the construction of this enigmatic rock tower, subsequently named “Carter’s Tower of Foolishness.” Many accounts suggest that the tower was finished in 1897.

The Tower’s Purpose

The tower that stands to this day features a series of interior stairs leading to its pinnacle, offering visitors a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside. However, beyond its scenic vantage point, there was a practical reason for constructing this tower.

In the late 1800s, a nearby railroad line passed through the area. During that era, trains were primarily fired by coal, and as a consequence, sparks and fires along train lines were a common occurrence. Carter’s Tower of Foolishness served as a watchtower, safeguarding the adjacent estate. James Richard Carter and his family played an active role in fire prevention when they spotted fires erupting along the railroad tracks. Armed with brooms, they would swiftly extinguish these fires before they could spread.

Present-Day Tower

Today, this historic tower still stands proudly and can be seen from Route 2, situated approximately halfway between Lancaster and Gorham. It is important to note that the tower is located on private property and is locked, so trespassing is strongly discouraged.

However, if you’re inclined to capture a photograph or simply admire this hidden gem, it’s possible to do so without infringing on private land. Exercise caution when pulling over on the side of the highway to take a snapshot, as Route 2 is a popular road, and there isn’t a designated parking area. Carter’s Tower of Foolishness remains a lesser-known but intriguing piece of New Hampshire’s history, waiting to be discovered by those who pass by.

Location

Address: Presidential Highway, Jefferson, New Hampshire
Place GPS Coordinates: 44.371882, -71.407470
Parking GPS Coordinates: 44.371882, -71.407470
Parking Notes: There is no official parking for the tower considering it is on private property. Most visitors just pull over on the side of the highway to quickly admire the structure and photograph it. Do not trespass on the private property.

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