On Jan. 2, 1914, the federal government bought a 7,000-acre parcel in Benton, N.H. from E. Bertram Pike at a price of $13.25 per acre.
“We’re commemorating the first acquisition of what became the White Mountain National Forest, one of New Hampshire’s jewels,” said David Govatski, a retired Forest Service forester, who worked on the White Mountain.
Four years after the first parcel of land was purchased and the government had acquired more acreage, President Woodrow Wilson formally established the White Mountain National Forest.
Now, the forest is nearly 800,000 acres and attracts several million visitors who hike, camp, climb and ski in the forest each year. The White Mountain National Forest has become “the economic engine of New Hampshire,” according to Govatski.
The Forest Service and the Museum of the White Mountains commemorated the first acquisition of what became the White Mountain National Forest with a centennial celebration at the museum, which is on the Plymouth State University campus in Plymouth, N.H.
The event featured speeches from White Mountain National Forest staff, congressional representatives and Plymouth State University faculty.
Govatski, who is a museum advisory board member, announced that a petition would be submitted to the State of New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources, to place a state historic marker at the edge of the first land purchase in Benton.
Museum Director Catherine Amidon said the event was an important milestone for the museum, which is preparing to celebrate the centennial of the establishment of the national forest in 2018, four years after the land purchase.