Mount Agamenticus Conservation Region

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The History of The Mount Agamenticus Region

The natural and cultural history on Mt. Agamenticus extends well beyond our archeological imaginations. The current landscape of Mt. A, which is inextricably tied to the Mountain’s geological and cultural history, is recognized for its rich bio-diversity and unique ecological features. Among the most noticeable and historically relevant ecological features at Mount Agamenticus are its thin topsoil and shallow bedrock, both of which have and continue to influence the appearance and management of the area.

Last Updated on Monday, 11 February 2013 14:08

Timeline of Mt. Agamenticus

The ecological and cultural history of Mt. Agamenticus (and of New England)- --A Timeline

  • 18,000-13,000 BCE--Laurentide Ice Sheet covers all of New England * 
  • 12,000 BCE--Arctic tundra covers central New England. Evidence of first human presence in New England; start of mass extinction of Pleistocene Megafauna * 
  • 9000 BCE--Dramatic warming ushers in forests dominated by pines, oaks and birches *
  • 1000 BCE--Forests of present composition dominate central New England * 
  • 1497--John Cabot may have spotted Mt. Agamenticus. This would make Mt. A the first land of North America to have been spotted by western explorers.

    Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 February 2013 15:06

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The Geology of Mt. Agamenticus

The Geology of Mt. Agamenticus by Wilfred B Byran

Mount Agamenticus is located within the exposed upper part of the "plumbing system” that supplied lava to a very large volcano that was active about 220 million years ago. The complete structure is nearly circular, with a diameter of about 7 miles, the center being just south of Agamenticus Village in Bracey Swamp. The sharp summit is not "the volcano" as some may speculate; it is, along with Second and Third hills, an erosion-resistant part of one of the circular dikes that once supplied lava to the eruptions. The original volcano may have reached an elevation of as much as 20,000 feet, similar to Mt Kilimanjaro in eastern Africa.

Last Updated on Monday, 11 February 2013 14:11

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Discovery

Sasona MapIn 1497, John Cabot, on an expedition to North America, may have been the first European to spot Mt. Agamenticus. It was not until 1602, however, that Europeans first visited this region; Captain Bartholomew Gosnold, an English navigator, is said to have explored the Mt. Agamenticus Region. Three years later, the French made the first distinct reference to Mt. A, and placed the region on the map. Finally, in 1614 Captain John Smith published the now famous “Map of New England,” and represented Mt. A as “Snadoun Hill.” The cultural history at Mt. Agamenticus, following Native American inhabitance, parallels closely, the general history of rural New England. Old growth forests, mostly of White Pine were cut and gave way to farmland and pastures.

from The People, the Industry, and the Many Uses of Mt. A by Greg Boulbol

Last Updated on Monday, 11 February 2013 13:38

The Early Years

Norman FarmIn 1620 Europeans began to displace the natives and use the abundant resources of the area for sustenance. Between 1631 and 1634 many of the small creeks in the region were dammed to power both saw and grist mills. As demand for cut wood increased, the demand to power mills followed suit. Remnants of these dams and mills can still be found in the Mt. A region.

A great deal of the old growth White Pine (“Mast Pine” or “King’s Pine”) was ordered by the King of England (who “owned” the land) to be cut for ship masts in order to expand the British Navy.

Last Updated on Monday, 11 February 2013 14:14

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Many Uses: Mt. A’s days as a Lookout

With wartime concerns of the early 1940’s, the US army set up the country’s first radar tower on the summit of Mt. Agamenticus. Because of the mountain’s unique height and proximity to the ocean, it also served as a strategic area to spot foreign warships and submarines. An auto road was built to the summit, which was cleared of its forests, in order to supply the 25 men that were stationed here. Barracks were also constructed on the summit to house the 551st Signal Battalion. A viewing deck on the summit now covers the four footings that once supported the radar tower.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 February 2013 18:58

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Many Uses: The Days of Skiing and Modern Recreation

Ski the Big AIn 1960 planning and construction for a ski area on Mt. A began. “The Big A” opened in December of 1964 and stayed in business for 9 years. Warm, saltwater winds from the Atlantic coupled with two low snow fall winters, hampered business and forced “The Big A” to shut down. Though the ski area had a short life, its impacts on the local landscape will be apparent for many years. Current trails, Goosefoot, Sweet Fern, Vulture’s view and parts of Witch Hazel, were all former ski trails.

A great deal of equipment was left behind including remnants of the “T bar” at both the top and bottom of Witch Hazel and various lift equipment and foundations at the base of the mountain, where Goosefoot, Cedar and Chick’s Brook intersect.

Last Updated on Monday, 11 February 2013 14:17

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Management Today

In April of 1975, in the early stages of this nation’s latest environmental movement, the “Save Agamenticus” committee was formed in response to a development proposal (3000 residential units). The committee was hoping to establish the area as a wilderness area or a wildlife preserve. The Mt. Agamenticus Steering Committee was also established in order to develop planning guidelines. Private land was purchased with an emphasis on preserving the natural resources, water quality and maintaining the recreational resources of the area.

Today Mount Agamenticus provides a rare opportunity to both outdoor enthusiasts and wildlife in the midst of rapidly growing York County. An attraction to tourists and locals alike, the mountain draws crowds of day-trippers to enjoy breathtaking panoramic views from the Atlantic Ocean to New Hampshire’s White Mountains and to explore its 40+ miles of trails. According to a recent visitor’s survey, repeat visitors are increasing in number and travel to the area from neighboring towns in Maine and New Hampshire several times monthly to enjoy activities such as hawk and bird watching, hiking, biking, snow-shoeing, cross country skiing, hunting, and horseback riding.

Last Updated on Monday, 11 February 2013 14:02

Spellings and meanings of "Agamenticus"

Accominta--Named by the natives of the York River.
Akukumigak--Chippewa, an expression referring to the place where land and water meet--the
shoreline
Agamenticus or Accominticus--a small tribe of the Pennacook confederacy that occupied a village at or near present day York.