Original Weirs Beach Train Station (1859-1879)

When this webpage describes the “Original” Weirs Beach train station, we are referring to the original train station in its current location. The first train station in Weirs Beach was located just south of the railroad bridge that carries US Route 3 over the railroad tracks. According to Edgar H. Wilcomb in his 1923 booklet “Rambles About the Weirs”, “it was necessary to flag the few passing trains in order to be taken aboard, and passage money had to be paid to the conductor after being taken aboard, for there was no ticket office and no telegraph facilities connected with the first station. Likewise there was no freight station or express office…”. The first station existed for perhaps 10 years or so, until it was relocated to its current location as shown in the 1859 engraving below.

The following engraving, drawn by artist, historian and travel writer John Badger Bachelder, was first printed in the 1874, second edition of “Bachelder’s Illustrated Tourist’s Guide of The United States – Popular Resorts and How to Reach Them”. Bachelder’s color sketch of the scene is available on the New Hampshire Historical Society website here.

Bachelder’s guidebook was first published in Boston in 1873. The first edition was really two books in one, as it had extensive coverage of Gettysburg (“What to See, and How to See It”) for its first 150 pages. Only about 75 pages of the first edition were devoted to the rest of the USA. The first edition did not include an engraving of Weirs Landing. The second edition dropped the coverage of Gettysburg (for which Bachelder became famous) and devoted its nearly 200 pages to travels across the USA (primarily the Northeastern US).

The Weirs engraving and information was repeated in the third edition in 1875, and in a fourth, final edition in 1876.

The Weirs Beach boardwalk in the mid-1870s. Looking down the boardwalk from the covered waiting area, the original station is seen. From a stereoview by Tebbetts & Lindsay.

The following engraving is the oldest depiction of Weirs Beach that you will find anywhere on this website. It was printed in the July 30th, 1859 issue of Ballou’s Pictorial. The engraving depicts the Lady of the Lake leaving Weirs Beach. Clearly shown in the engraving are the original train station and a ramp leading down to the Lake. The ramp was a big improvement. According to Wilcomb, the first steamer wharf was “…a very primitive affair. Instead of the present incline for passengers, between the railroad and the boat landing, there were stairs against the side of the embankment, and ‘tackle’ to raise and lower the freight.” No other buildings appear in the engraving. Development of Weirs Beach not yet begun.

This is a very rare, circa 1870 photograph of the original Weirs Beach train station. It was part of a stereoview (#351) by the Kilburn Brothers. Circa 1870, Lakeside Avenue was a meadow! The street was probably cleared of brush shortly after,  circa 1871. On January 5, 1883, the Laconia Democrat newspaper reported, “At the Weirs, the new road from the railroad bridge to Doe’s brickyard is under good headway.” The road was initially called Railroad Avenue, and it was completed by the end of May, 1883. Another decade later, in July, 1894, the Laconia Democrat reported that “….workmen were making a big improvement to Railroad Square”, the block at the center of the Weirs. “A large amount of grade has been hauled in and the roadway is now about level with the railroad tracks, instead of from two to three feet below.” It is unknown exactly when the street was renamed Lakeside Avenue, but in the 1910’s, the new name was well established.

Kilburn stereoview #350 is the oldest photograph of Weirs Beach in existence. The “station” is just a one-story shack with no chimney, unlike the 1 1/2 – story house with chimney in Kilburn #351 and all the other photos on this page. Thus, the original “station” was actually two different buildings. A historical account by Theo S. Jewett states that the Weirs station and the attached wharf burned on March 11, 1871. If the account is accurate, the shack was replaced by the house in 1871, until a much grander replacement occurred in 1880, when the Second Weirs Beach Train Station was built.
Below, a drawing from a viewbook of the White Mountains published by the Wittemann Bros., 184 William St, New York, shows the Lady of the Lake steaming away from the original train station and wharf. The viewbook was copyrighted in 1877 by “Lindsey & French, Fabyan House, White Mountains, NH”, with “Photo-Lith” by Louise Glaser.
Identical to the drawing above, the later version below uses the alternate spelling of Lake Winnipesaukee and was published in 1882, also by the Wittemann Bros. However, the drawing was not accurately depicting the Weirs Beach of that time, as by 1882 the second train station and Railroad Avenue had already been built.
Another view of the original train station (far right edge of picture), from a distance, shows the Lady at her dock. The house in the center of the picture is unknown. A row of tents can be seen on the far left of the picture in what eventually became the Methodist Campground. From a stereoview by Tebbets and Lindsay, Laconia, N.H.
More views of the original train station.
There were three more Weirs Beach train stations to come, before the current, fifth Weirs Beach train station.
Second Weirs Beach Train Station
Third Weirs Beach Train Station
Fourth Weirs Beach Train Station