, Derry, New Hampshire


August 15, 2013


Scattered through out the backwoods of Old Nutfield are a number of discontinued roads. At some point-in-time somebody saw the need for a road from point A to point B. A petition was submitted to the selectman and the town meeting would vote on spending money to build it. Most country roads were built either two rods (33 feet) or three rods (50 feet) wide and lined with a stone wall on each side. And years later a taxpayer might decide that because few locals were using the road, there was little need to spend money to maintain it. Petitioners would then have to put the question to the town meeting where the citizens would vote to either close the road or keep it open. If it was voted closed, then the ownership to the road would usually revert back to the adjacent property owners.

Such a road is Green Lane in East Derry. This two-rod road was built in the 1700s to connect Old Chester Road with Pond Road. There doesn’t seem to have ever been a house built along its half-mile course. It was named after the family of David Green who farmed the area. Green Lane was closed around the time of the Civil War. By the 1880s much of it was covered with scrub brush and rains had eroded much of its path. It became nearly impassable because of ruts, gullies and jagged rocky outcroppings. For many generations the only ones who used Green Lane were young lovers in search of a private place to spark. In the 1990s Bill Dearth blocked off the road to prevent it being used by “young bucks” as a place to get into mischief.

That’s about all I know about Green Lane — except for a story I heard years ago. It may be true — probably it is, but I guarantee nothing. The story is set in East Derry about 200 years ago. There are only two principle actors in our little play: Douglas, a bachelor who loved playing practical jokes on any one and every one; and Malcolm, a young man who was forever being the butt of Douglas’ jokes and was sick and tired of being made to look like a fool. Malcolm had been plotting for years how to turn the tables on his tormentor.

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