Thornton Gore developed out of farming, in contrast to other White Mountain ghost towns, most of which were centered around the forestry sector. It took nearly 20 years, until 1781, for Thornton Gore to incorporate; the town took its name from Matthew Thornton, a resident of Londonderry, New Hampshire, and a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
When one of the town’s initial residents, who by this point had owned much of the land, started selling lots ranging in size from 80 to 200 acres, Thornton Gore entered its first “growth” stage. Early farming attempts were hampered by the area’s extensive forest, but locals benefited from it greatly because it provided maple syrup, firewood, and lumber for construction. Midway through the 1800s, the neighborhood kept growing, gaining a church, a school, a few mills, two cemeteries, and roads to connect them all. In addition to producing maple syrup, the community also produced other goods including potatoes, wool, and butter by 1850, when 1,100 acres of land had been cleared for farms, orchards, and pasture.
Due to many factors—including the Civil War, its slower economic growth than that of larger communities, and the forest’s encroachment on abandoned farms—Thornton Gore was ultimately abandoned. The New Hampshire Land Company, in particular, purchased a significant amount of the land in Thornton Gore; by 1900, it held all but two lots in the town. Although logging continued into 1912, with timber companies taking millions of board feet from the nearby slopes, this effectively put an end to the town’s existence. After being cleared of trees, the site was sold to the government and added to the White Mountain National Forest.
Today, the abandoned ghost town is easily accessible from I-93. Tripoli Road may be found after taking Exit 31. Parking along Tripoli allows visitors to walk to the former Thornton Gore Mill Ruins.
- Trail Length: 2.03 miles
- Trail Difficulty: Easy
- Elevation Gain: 167 feet
- Route Type: Out-and-back
- Dog Policy: Allowed
- Year Established: 1781
- Year Abandoned: 1912
- Original Function: Farming community