Heritage New Hampshire

A different type of Museum

Glen, NH

September 3rd, 1999


On a bright sunny day we drove down from Maine into New Hampshire looking for what we were told was a different kind of museum. "Heritage New Hampshire" is a Morrell Family Attraction, located next to their "Story Land" theme park. Built some 25 years ago, this 19,200 sq. foot area is the creation of Ruth and Robert Morrell with some real hands on inspiration from Peter Stone. Opened in 1976, this very large building, with its over three tenths of a mile trail criss-crossing through it, houses an experience, as much as a museum. The adventure we were about to embark upon, would be a walk through New Hampshire's history from its early beginnings to present day, presented by 12 docents, costumed to perfection for the parts they played. As a colonial doorman swung open the large front door, we stepped into the spacious lobby designed as the dockside of an English town. A matronly colonial woman caught our attention as we entered and, after asking if we would be taking the boat to the New World, offered us a sample of the food we would be eating for the next 60 days. Hardtack, a type of unleavened bread designed to last for long periods of time without rotting. and a drink concoction made of vinegar, molasses, and other ingredients to keep us from getting scurvy. It was palatable, but I wouldn't want to have to drink much of it. From there we proceeded to the ticket counter and purchased two seats on the "Reliance" sailing for New Hampshire on the next tide. We were to be the guests of Robert E. Owen, the operations coordinator for Heritage New Hampshire. We met him just outside the ship which was ready to sail. He explained many of the intriguing facts about the equipment and staff requirements which kept this smoothly operating organization running. "There are usually 12 presenters working throughout the museum. They range from teenagers to an 80 year old man. They play the parts of various characters that passed though New Hampshire history. He introduced us to Captain Lester Campbell of the Reliance. As we stood outside the ship discussing the trip, I got a real sensation of a ship. The creaks and groans coming from the ship as it rocked back in forth in its make believe sea. We entered and sat around on the benches as the Captain explained that we would be at sea for some 60 days and that there was no water for bathing, plus we would only be allowed on deck, for a short time, once a week. The room rocked gently from side to side and sea sickness was a definite possibility if we had stayed there very long. The Captain then took us to the next room with was made up as the bow of the ship, complete with mast and wheel. A storm came up, and the bow pitched and rolled. Imitation waves rose and fell, and a sea gull flew over head. Even the presence of salt spry was felt against our faces. The Captain was busy getting several of the kids in the group, to man(kid?) the bilge pump in center stage as the ship approached New Hampshire. We left the Captain as we arrived around 1670 in New Hampshire. A wooded land filled with Indians. A sound track talks about what the Indian society was like. All along the way are information disks, which present a question. The viewer can rotate the disk to view the answer underneath. We wandered along a path that took us through the woods and through history as time passed. There is a live trout book which we followed to an area representing the Amoskeag Falls near the Potomac river.


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