Sunapee’s Hames Park, a gem along the Sugar River, tells of times past

HamesParksign2013_CCSunapee, N.H. — A small park, a gem along the Sugar River in Sunapee Harbor village tells of times past.

The park’s pathway, off Main Street near the High Street Bridge, leads down into a garden and granite lined sanctuary that speaks to the power of its townspeople and the river.

In the late 1800s, many New Hampshire’s riverfront villages and towns bustled with industry and business. At the turn of the century, the Granite State was a leading producer of textiles, machinery, wood products, and paper.

In Sunapee, factories harnessed the river for power and employed a variety of workers in its shops, mills and foundries along upper and lower Main Street.

Hames Park, dedicated in 1990, details the history of hame production in Sunapee.

HamesParkwalk2013_CCA hame, made of wood or metal, is the curved part of a harness that fits around the neck of a draft animal and to which the traces (or lines) are attached.

The Sunapee Historical Society Museum at Sunapee Harbor displays wooden and metal hames and other locally manufactured items from more than a century ago.

A sign at Hames Park talks about industry along the river.

From Lake Sunapee for a distance of nearly two miles, the Sugar River has a rapid descent and this furnished some of the finest water power in the state. On this particular section of the river, there were many factories. Along with hames (which were made on this site) many other goods were manufactured: fork & hoe handles, clothes pins, paper, lumber, tanned leather, meal & flour, sashes & blinds, shoe pegs, starch, inner soles, shingles, splits and excelsior.

Hames manufacturing was big business 

The hame business in Sunapee started in 1860. Ownership changed over time as did its factory buildings that burned and were rebuilt and expanded.

Sunapee’s hame production was big business. In 1893, it turned out about 600 pair of hames per day. In 1899, the U.S. Hame Company of Buffalo, N.Y., took over the Sunapee plant.

However, with the development of the automobile and internal combustion engine that transformed transportation across the country, the demand for hames dropped and the plant closed in 1914.

More than a century ago, industry and businesses lined the river. The hame company, as did other businesses, had buildings that spanned the river.

The center of Sunapee was in the harbor village around the Hames Park area, where Central, Main and High streets came together, and where one found the essentials: post office, livery, library and shops.

The Sunapee Riverwalk, a scenic half-mile walk from the harbor to the town office building and information booth on Route 11, passes the falls at Hames Park and other historic sites along the Sugar River. Visit the park via the RIverwalk by crossing the High Street Bridge.

HamesParkbench2013_CB

Garden and granite lined Hames Park in Sunapee Harbor Village tells the history of local manufacturing along the Sugar River, where the power of the townspeople and the river came together. (Photos of Hames Park sign and walkway by Charlotte Carlson, Sunapee.)

4 Responses

  1. […] barrels at the two town beaches. Flowers also bloom in the old horse trough on Main Street and in Hames Park, a garden gem tucked into the hillside overlooking the Sugar […]

  2. The park is also a memorial to Burton and Esther Bartlett Cady, previous owners of the community store on the site. Another plaque at the park is in memory of former Sunapee teacher and my friend, Lib Pratt.

  3. Who tends the gardens at Hames Park? The volunteer Sunapee Gardeners plant and maintain gardens and container beds around town, including at Hames Park.

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