The Mink Brook Nature Preserve, along with nearby smaller parcels owned by the Town of Hanover and the Upper Valley Land Trust, share a common history with roots reaching back to the earliest days of Hanover and Dartmouth College. Royal Governor Benning Wentworth reserved 500 acres for himself when he chartered the Town of Hanover on July 4, 1761, including these lands. The offer of these lands (along with nearby acreage in both Hanover and Lebanon) later persuaded Rev. Dr. Eleazar Wheelock to choose Hanover as the site for Dartmouth College.
In the next century, the Benton family (1840 brick homestead still standing nearby) farmed the land, and it later became part of the Stone family dairy farm until 1949, when the Barrett, Ransmeier, and Granger families purchased the land. MORE
At left: Fullington’s prized Guernsey cows grazing along Mink Brook (Photo by Frank J. Barrett)
The Fullingtons – owners of the Dartmouth Dairy – pastured about 40 heifers each summer on the Barretts’ pastures along Mink Brook during the 1950s.
Hanover’s largest watershed
Mink Brook drains Hanover’s largest watershed, where the brook gathers the flow from 18 1/2 square miles. Rain and snow falling on the west slopes of Moose Mountain, the Etna valley, and Greensboro area flow through Mink Brook through the preserve to the Connecticut River. Today, much of the watershed is forested, including the preserve, but it was not always so.
Aerial photograph of Hanover. Jim Stone’s barn and fields (on the land that is now Mink Brook Nature Preserve) can be seen at the bottom of the photograph and Baker Tower appears at upper left. Blue dots trace the path of Mink Brook.
Image on file in Dartmouth College Special Collections at Rauner Library, circa 1938 by the US Army Air Corps.
And in 2009…
Aerial photograph of Hanover. Mink Brook Nature Preserve is in the lower portion of the photograph and Baker Tower appears at upper left.
Image retrieved from Google Earth, May 2009.
The Ice Age
Thousands of years earlier, the lower reaches of Mink Brook, including the area now protected as the Mink Brook Nature Preserve, were inundated by the glacial meltwaters of Lake Hitchcock.
In this portrayal of the glacial lake in the Hanover area, created by Mathew Bigl, Dartmouth Department of Earth Sciences (using data from Koteff and Larsen, 1989), we see that the entire Mink Brook valley was inundated, with Gile Hill remaining above water as a small island.