6 eye-catching manmade features in New Hampshire

Peter Watson

A 19th-century Cog Railway to one of the longest zip line canopy tours in the continental US, here are some offbeat manmade features in New Hampshire.

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Mount Washington Cog Railroad in New HampshireJHPhtography/Shutterstock

Whether you’re a first-timer, a regular visitor, or a Granite State native, there are endless adventures waiting for you in New Hampshire.

From festivals and fairs that celebrate the state’s culinary flair to classic New England traditions and adventure experiences – the Granite State knows how to do summer right.

If the sun gets a bit too much then here are some alternative ways to spend your time in New Hampshire.

Manmade features in New Hampshire

While New Hampshire is most often recognized for its natural beauty, such as its majestic White Mountains, 18 miles of dramatic coastline, and more than 250 lakes, the Granite State is also home to some of the country’s most distinctive, fun and quirky manmade features.

1. Mount Washington Auto Road

Where: Gorham, New Hampshire

More information: mtwashingtonautoroad.com

The famous Mount Washington Auto Road winds its way up from the base of Mount Washington on an eight-mile drive to the summit, which is the Northeast’s highest peak at 6,288 feet above sea level.

Opened in 1861, the Auto Road is the oldest manmade attraction in the US and features the most scenic views of New Hampshire’s mountains with an ever-changing show of light, clouds and colors.

Starting the month of December, the Mount Washington SnowCoach – a specially constructed vehicle featuring four tracks in place of wheels – will offer 90-minute tours to the 4,200-foot-high tree line of Mount Washington.

2. Mount Washington Cog Railway

Where: Mount Washington, New Hampshire

More information: thecog.com

First proposed in 1858 by Sylvester Marsh, this mountain-climbing cog railway was mocked with a suggestion that a provision to build a ‘railroad to the moon’ should be included.

Despite being the highest peak in the Northeastern United States, the Mount Washington Cog Railway was built by hand in this rough and rural region of New Hampshire and remains the only railroad to have an average climbing ascent of 25 degrees with a peak vertical climb of 37.4 degrees.

Located on the western slopes of Mount Washington, the railway operates three-hour scenic tours from the end of April to early January each year with 2-15 trips to the summit per day.

3. New Hampshire Covered Bridges

More information: nh.gov

At the height of the covered-bridge craze, there were more than 10,000 of these graceful, functional structures in the United States.

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The Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge in New HampshireVisit NH

Now that covered bridges have grown scarce – only about 750 remain in the United States, each one has a distinct story to tell.

Because of their meticulous construction and connection to New Hampshire's past, covered bridges were the first type of historic structure specifically protected by state law in New Hampshire.

Many of our bridges have now earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

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The Flume Covered Bridge in New HampshireKenneth Keifer/Shutterstock

There are 54 remaining in New Hampshire from Swanzey (which has four) to Ossipee to Pittsburg (which has three).

They are hugely popular, with visitors planning scenic drives to see as many as they can.

4. Waterville Valley’s Stone Tower

Where: Waterville Valley, New Hampshire

More information: visitwatervillevalley.com

Waterville Valley’s Stone Tower was built in 1880 thanks to Reverend J.M. Buckley, who felt that town had everything but a ruin.

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Waterville Valley’s Stone Tower in New HampshireSteve/city-data.com

To this day, it is a unique find in a charming valley. Waterville Valley, New Hampshire, is a four-season resort set in the White Mountain National Forest, just two hours north of Boston.

In addition to winter snow sports like skiing and snowboarding, the property offers award-winning tennis courts, golf, biking, cultural activities and summer theater, an indoor ice rink, boating, and a skate and bike park.

Lodging choices include traditional inns and all-suite hotels, and dining options range from traditional favorites to elegant eateries.

5. The LEGO Millyard Project See Science Center

Where: Manchester, New Hampshire

More information: see-sciencecenter.org

The LEGO Millyard Project is the largest permanent LEGO installation at minifigure scale in the world and represents Manchester's historic Amoskeag Millyard.

Between the 1830s and 1930s, The Amoskeag Manufacturing Company constructed nearly two miles of mill buildings for textile manufacturing, and by 1915 was commonly recognized as the largest textile manufacturer in the world.

In 2004, the SEE Science Center undertook building a model representing this industrious time in Manchester with the help of the LEGO Company and community partners FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), CLD Consulting Engineers, NELUG (the New England LEGO Users Group), The City of Manchester and The Manchester Historic Association.

The project marked the first time the LEGO Company worked on a creative display of this scale with outside partners.

The project took an estimated 10,000 hours to construct over the course of two and a half years.

Over 200 individuals helped to build the model with an estimated three million LEGO pieces, and 8,000 mini-figures.

6. Gunstock Mountain Resort’s Thrill-seeker Adventures

Where: Gilford, New Hampshire

More information: gunstock.com

ZipTour Zip Line: Soar above the trees from peak to peak, and peak to base, traveling over 1.6 miles on one of the longest zip line canopy tours in the Continental United States. It is fast, fun and exhilarating.

This 1.5+ hour experience is for thrill-seekers and nature lovers alike, where adventurers can reach speeds up to 70 mph as they make their way from the summit of Gunstock towards the top of Pistol.

Aerial Treetop Adventure: Built within the trees along Gunstock's pond using lumber from the forest in which it sits, the Aerial Treetop Adventure (ATA) is New England's Largest Aerial Obstacle Course.

Explore Gunstock from a bird's eye view wheere 91 different challenges are securely suspended within the trees in eight courses (including an Explorer Course just for kids), with features such as zip lines, log ladders, bridges, swings, seesaws, and footbridges.

Mountain Coaster: This roller coaster / alpine slide hybrid set on the mountainside features two-person carts on twin, stainless steel rails and is open for year-round fun.

The coaster takes riders uphill through the forest before the cart disengages, and gravity takes over, taking riders down swooping turns, banked corners, rolling drops, and 360° turns.

Each cart is equipped with its own braking system, allowing you to slow speeds to a comfortable pace or accelerate to G-Force inducing levels.

Nearly 4100 feet long, rides last about 6 minutes with speeds up to 25 mph.

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Peter Watson is a writer, photographer and adventurer. A keen trekker and climber he can usually be found on the trails of the Greater Ranges. He’s visited over 80 countries and is currently focused on climbing the seven summits – the highest mountain on every continent. Four down, three to go... He has also travelled extensively around the US developing a penchant for American backcountry, abandoned buildings and natural wonders en route.

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