Lost River Gorge

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Lost River Gorge

Lost River Gorge Then Located in the town of North Woodstock, Lost River Reservation (as it is most properly known) is set high in Kinsman Notch, one of the many mountain passes in the White Mountains region. Kinsman Notch lies between Mt. Moosilauke and Mt. Kinsman, about 2000 feet above sea level. When you explore Kinsman Notch and Lost River, you’ll discover a land of remarkable and enduring beauty—a rugged land forged over time by the most powerful forces on Earth.

Approximately 300 million years ago, far beneath the surface of an ancient sea, mud and sand were heated and shifted, forming hard igneous rocks such as Kinsman Quartz Monzonite and Pegmatite Dikes (types of granite). It was during this period that the mountains began to form. Erosion before the Ice Age carved the Kinsman Notch area to approximately its present shape. The mile thick ice sheet, which covered all of New England from about 150,000 years ago until 25,000 years ago, furthered the erosion process. Turbulent water caused the movement of massive boulders. Sand and and pebbles suspended in the rushing water smoothed the boulders and the mountain ridges.

Lost River is so-named because the brook draining from the south east part of Kinsman Notch disappears below the surface in the narrow, steep-walled glacial Gorge. The Gorge is partially filled with immense blocks of granite, through which the brook cascades along its subterranean course until it eventually emerges and joins the Pemigewasset River which flows south from Franconia Notch.

Lost River Gorge Then

The first documented exploration of Lost River took place in 1852. Similar to Alice’s tumble down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland, local historian Elmer E. Woodbury wrote about how the Jackman brothers, Royal and Lyman, were busily fishing along the stream. The boys worked their way over and around the boulders when suddenly Lyman disappeared out of sight as if the Earth had swallowed him. Lyman had slipped into a moss covered hole and fallen into a cave about 15 feet below into a pool of water about waist deep. Now known as Shadow Cave, it was the first of the many caves the boys would soon discover.

The Lyman Brothers' discovery sparked great interest in Lost River! With its rough boardwalks and lantern lit caves, thousands of people would come each year to admire the beauty of Lost River Gorge and challenge the tight ins and outs of the majestic boulder caves.


Lost River Gorge Then

In the early 1900’s, as logging increased in the area and threatened the beauty of Lost River Gorge and the surrounding area, there was a need to protect this natural wonder. A newly formed, private non-profit conservation organization – The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests recognized that need and purchased Lost River in 1912. Still owned by the Forest Society today, and now leased and operated by the White Mountains Attractions Association, the two organizations work closely together to provide guests the opportunity to experience the fun, challenge, and excitement of Lost River - just as the Jackman Brothers did over 150 years ago. Still lit by lanterns, and now guided by boardwalks and stairs for the safety of visitors, Lost River Gorge welcomes thousands of guests each year from all over the world.