Date Visited: February 27, 2016
Location: North River Rd, Manchester, NH
Hours: Open daily sunrise to sunset
Parking: There was not a designated parking area per se but there are many places to park on the side of the paved road leading from the entrance.
New Hampshire isn’t known as the “Live Free Or Die” state for no reason. The quote, which is said to have French origins and adorns license plates and other kitschy souvenirs, is directly attributed to General, and former New Hampshire resident, John Stark. It was at John Stark Park in Manchester, NH, that I found this historical tribute to the revolutionary warrior.
The remaining of the “live free or die…”quote is lesser known, yet just as poignant.
For someone who is so heroic and brave, General Stark is not someone who many of us are familiar with. But, heroic he is. As the plaque in front of his statue explains, after being kidnapped by a Native American tribe and eventually ransomed, Stark joined the American Revolution and became a general. His most notable achievement was in 1777 when he commanded his troops to prevent British troops and supplies from connecting with the main army in Saratoga, New York, which was considered a key point which led to the American victory in the war.
Crisp blue skies awaited me at the park. It almost felt fall-like. What struck me most about the park was how peaceful it was. The gazebo is a nice touch also. The statue of General Stark was sculpted by Richard Recchia in 1948. The park is one of the older parks in New Hampshire, dating back to 1893 (it is the second oldest park in Manchester).
General Stark his, wife and a few of their children are buried at the bottom of the hill from the entrance.
One of the interesting things about Stark Park is the loop behind the park. It’s only about a quarter of mile and it is a great place to take your dog for a walk. But, there is a trail that branches off to a bridge and some other trails which eventually lead to the Heritage Trail. But, apart from some interesting trees and some wildlife, there isn’t much on the trails. Most of them lead to residential areas. I walked most of the narrow trails as far as I could go before they ended, rather disappointingly, at roadways and residential areas.
The big payoff to walking the loop behind the park was meeting Bennie. Bennie is a Chinook which is the state dog of New Hampshire.