The owner of a 38-acre farm in Northumberland, New Hampshire, is looking for the next dreamer to buy his property—which comes complete with a hydroelectric plant, cider mill, pond, and orchard.
Lost Nation? You’ve never heard of it? Well, it’s a real place, consisting of the northern New Hampshire towns of Lancaster and Northumberland. Some refer to it merely as “a back road from Lancaster to Groveton,” but in the old days it had a school, a church, and a number of residents who considered themselves residents of Lost Nation.
A few months ago, we received a call from a man by the name of Chris Hawkins, who said that he was thinking of putting his 38.8-acre farm in Northumberland up for sale in the summer of 2013. He called it “Lost Nation Farm” and reminded us that it had been mentioned in Yankee back in 1977 in an article about small, private hydroelectric plants in New England. He went on to say that he’d enjoyed Jim Collins’s recent article on the same subject (March/April 2013) because his own hydroelectric plant was still generating all his power needs from one of two brooks on his property. So did we want to mosey on up there and take a look?
Well, of course, and within a week we were driving up through Franconia Notch to that gorgeous mountain country still known today as Lost Nation. Chris met us at the door of the farmhouse, and we spent the next hour or so chatting over coffee in his well-equipped and sunny kitchen, recently installed, with windows looking out through a new summer porch to Mounts Lafayette and Garfield. We were fascinated to hear about some of his adventurous hiking in these and many other mountains and his time as the construction boss of the Appalachian Mountain Club. After he and his wife took over Lost Nation Farm in 1991, they raised their three children, leased the thriving apple-cider business on the property, maintained their orchard, kept the hydroelectric plant operating year-round, and, if all that weren’t enough, took on 30 Highland cattle. “That was initially a hobby that then sorta got out of control,” he laughed.
But nothing lasts forever. Chris’s wife passed away eight years ago, their three children are on their own, and now Chris, although still a vigorous hiker and outdoorsman, but living alone, has had to, as he says, “cut back.” So, reluctantly, he has decided to put Lost Nation Farm on the market this summer. “I’m looking for the next dreamer,” he said to us with a smile.
So here’s what “the next dreamer” would get (for $395,000):
The House: It’s a two-story, four-bedroom farmhouse, built in the early 1900s, that looked to us to be in excellent condition throughout. There’s also a two-car garage with a mechanic’s pit and a lovely one-acre pond, home to some largemouth bass. And did we say that there are fabulous mountain views out any window on all sides?
The Cider Mill: This is a separate building with a 16×20-foot sales room and another room housing a turn-of-the-20th-century water-powered cider press, which can produce about 500 gallons a day. There’s also a walk-in cooler that can store as many as 250 boxes of apples at the proper temperature.
The Orchard: Since Chris hasn’t run the cider business in a few years, the apple trees need pruning. But there are a lot of them, and to us they looked beautiful.
The Property: It consists of two parcels totaling 38.8 acres, both with frontage on Lost Nation Road. About 15 acres are in open fields around the house, pond, and cider mill. The larger of the two brooks running through the property supplies the power for the hydroelectric plant.
The Hydroelectric Plant: Located in a basement area beneath the room housing the cider press, it supplies all the power needs for the farm, with an extra amount going to the Public Service of New Hampshire utility. Apparently, it requires very little attention. “Maybe an hour per month for lubrication,” Chris told us, adding that the intake screen needs cleaning every two weeks, which, he says, takes about 15 minutes. “But you need to do it more during the fall rains.” To get a bit technical, the plant, made in West Germany, is an Ossberger crossflow turbine supplied by a 10″/12″ penstock, 1,500 feet in length with a 100-foot head, supplying 1,000 gallons per minute at maximum output and producing 17 kilowatts.
If you understand the above—or would at least like to—then we’d guess you might well qualify to be “the next dreamer.” Lucky you.
Oh, is anyone wondering how Lost Nation came to be called that? Here’s one theory (of several): Years ago a minister came over from Lancaster to preach in the local church. But only one person showed up that Sunday. “This is a lost nation,” the minister was heard to say as he was leaving—and the name stuck.
Are you ready to believe that?
For details, contact Chris Hawkins, 26 Herman Savage Road, Lancaster, NH 03584;603-631-1888. nhfarmforsale.net; lostnationNH@gmail.com