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Telling the story of 200 years  of White Mountain History

Pike New Hampshire

 An unusual type of stone abounds in a limited area around Haverhill, NH.  It’s the raw material for making whetstones and several quarries were opened over the years. An industry was created. 

The Pike Company, founded by Isaac Pike, in the 1840s eventually became the world’s largest producer of sharpening stones.  They made a variety of stones for various industries, beginning with the local farmers and including nearly all tool makers and users of cutting tools.  As business expanded, they bought the factories and quarries of their competitors. As business conditions changed, the company name changed (but always included the name “Pike”). By the 1890s, the company virtually monopolized the domestic market for sharpening stones and the company survives today as the Norton-Pike Co.

The whetstone industry in this section of East Haverhill can be traced back to the 1820s.[1]  The first mill to quarry and grind whetstones was probably that of Hezekiah Huntington.  Henry Noyes was also in the whetstone grinding business in the 1820s.  Noyes had a lease on a whetstone quarry and in 1828 was given the right to access the quarry and transport stone from it for a period of 999 years. [2]



           Bird's Eye View of Pike and the Factory

Isaac Pike, founder of the business and town we’re concerned with, arrived in the Haverhill area in 1818 and was in the lumber business.  By 1842 Pike was quarrying  and producing whetstones in his own mill and shipping them to Burlington, Vt. and Hartford, Ct.  Pike’s sons, Alonzo and Edward joined the company and it expanded rapidly. Isaac died in 1860 and Alonzo assumed control of the company.    The quarries for the stone were in the area of Lily Pond. The coming of the railroad in 1853 brought changes.  A railroad station was built near the mills in the 1860s.   Freight cars were picking up at the mill and the 1860 Walling map of Grafton County shows several buildings in vicinity of the Pike Mill including a store and by 1880 it had a post office. There were two schools and a stable for the horses.  There were large farms and sawmills.  In addition to the whetstone business, the company was also in the lumber business.    Alonzo Pike built a mansion for his family. In 1882, Pike built a boarding house, a dormitory for the women workers, and tenements for mill workers. An 1897 newspaper article indicates that the company employed over 100 in Pike and over 250 in total.    A 1901 article[3] , states, “There is a little village of more than 500 inhabitants.  There is a fine department store, whetstone mill, sawmill, box factory wheelwright and blacksmith shop, grist mill, hotel, livery stable, a good hall and schoolhouse.  It is a temperance place. The village has a library, long distance telephone, telegraph and six mails a day.”  The development of artificial abrasives by the Norton Company in 1897 forever changed the business and would eventually lead to the 1932 consolidation of the two companies-but that’s another story.

All that remains today is a smoke stack and a small brick building. 

 


[1] Robert Fillion, Early Pike and Whetstone Works, 1994, Woodsville, NH

[2] Robert Fillion, Early Pike and Whetstone Works, 1994, Woodsville, NH

[3] White Mountain Republic Journal, Sept. 6, 1901 Littleton, NH

 

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