Hidden deep in the forests of Hanover’s northeast corner, on the shoulder of Moose Mountain, is the site of a late 18th/early 19th century sawmill on tiny Tunis Brook. The brook flows north to join Pressey Brook and eventually feeds Goose Pond. These waters are protected and purified by the healthy, mature forest sheltering Tunis Brook.
The Hanover Conservancy acquired the 1.5 acre parcel in 1994 following a town tax sale. Close to the Town of Hanover’s Goodwin Forest, Town Forest, and also its McKinley Tract and Marshall Brook Wetlands (which the Conservancy helped acquire in 1993 and 1977, respectively), the Tunis Brook Mill lot is another piece of the conservation puzzle in this wild corner of town. A dramatic glacial erratic (a huge boulder deposited by the glacier) rests just a few yards south of the property line.
We are currently researching the history of this remarkable spot, whose owner was unknown at the time the town acquired it. We have discovered that the sawmill was functioning as late as 1860. What was its role in the settlement and prosperity of the Tunis district of town?
And why the name Tunis? We suspect a link to the Tunis Sheep, an ancient and sturdy breed with connections to George Washington and origins in North Africa. The breed became a mainstay in New England, after the Spanish Merino, in the years following the Civil War. Was this breed raised in this part of Hanover? More on Tunis Sheep
The mill itself was gone by 1903, but its moss-covered, drylaid fieldstone foundation remains along the brook. Why was it abandoned? Did the clearing of the surrounding hills for farming and sheep pasturage result in unpredictable stream flow, disrupting mill operations, as happened for so many mills on upland brooks in those years?
How to get there
From Route 10, take Goose Pond Road 5.4 miles (1.6 miles from where the pavement ends for the second time). Find the entrance to the property on the south side of Goose Pond Road nearly opposite a gate bearing a yellow sign that reads, “Private Road. Bear Hill Reservation.” A green Conservancy trailhead sign is posted just left of the trail. Please park as far off Goose Pond Road as possible, and do not block the private road.
The rough, half-mile trail to the Tunis Brook Mill Lot is marked with flagging and continues across a right-of-way to Conservancy property and the brook. Please respect the private land over which the trail passes.
Find the geocache!