By Muriel Bristol | June 5, 2018
The NH State Legislature authorized construction of a northern extension of the Eastern Turnpike in 1953. The Eastern Turnpike would consist of the just completed (1950) Blue Star Turnpike or NH Turnpike (now also Interstate 95), which ran from the Massachusetts border to the Portsmouth traffic circle, as well as a northern extension, which would run from the Portsmouth traffic circle to the Dover-Rochester area.
The first five miles of the Eastern Turnpike’s northern extension, ran from the Portsmouth traffic circle, through Newington, to Exit 6 (US Route 4) at Dover Point. Construction began in May 1954 and opened in September 1956.
Huntley N. Spaulding (1869-1955) and his brother, Rolland H. Spaulding (1873-1942), both of north Rochester, were manufacturers of leatherboard and fiberboard at their family’s mills in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and New York. They both served as NH Governors: Rolland in 1915-17, and Huntley in 1927-29. Both they and other members of their family were philanthropists. The northern extension of the Eastern Turnpike was renamed to the Spaulding Turnpike by March 1954, presumably in their honor. (Huntley N. Spaulding died in November 1955).
The second seventeen-mile section of the now Spaulding Turnpike ran between Exit 6 (US Route 4) at Dover Point to Exit 12 (US Route 202 | NH Route 11 | NH Route 125) in Gonic, in Rochester. This second section bypassed the Dover Point Road, downtown Dover, and NH Route 108 between Dover and Rochester. It opened in August 1957.
The Portsmouth Herald observed that by “Connecting with the New Hampshire Turnpike, the Spaulding Turnpike will give motorists a superhighway from the Massachusetts line to Rochester and easier access to the mountain region of the state.”
The Spaulding Turnpike and NH Route 16 ran concurrently from Portsmouth Circle towards Rochester, where the Spaulding Turnpike ended at Exit 12. (NH Route 125 ran from the Massachusetts border at Haverhill, MA, through Plaistow towards Rochester). NH Routes 16 and 125 then ran concurrently from there through downtown Rochester, north along Milton Road in Rochester towards Milton, and through Milton along the White Mountain Highway to Union (Wakefield).
Milton enjoyed a tourist boom in the 1960s and 1970s. It had lost its train station by 1960. But it was now the first town (as opposed to Rochester) through which the increased traffic of the Spaulding Turnpike passed after Exit 12. (Some estimates were triple the traffic). Many travelers considered Milton to be a halfway point to the White Mountains. It was a good place to break one’s journey.
Older residents and through-travelers recall that Milton had more mercantile activity, such as general stores, hardware, antiques, garages, etc., during this period. Other venues catered to lunches, ice cream treats, and summer activities. Its public beach had been open since about 1948. Mi-Te-Jo Campground has been here from at least the 1960s. Ray’s Marina replaced the train station in 1962. There were even water-ski jumps in the Depot Pond.
Then the NH Department of Public Works and Highways (now the NH Department of Transportation (NHDOT)) announced plans for a third section of the Spaulding Turnpike in 1973. The NH legislature authorized it in 1977. It would continue twelve miles from Exit 12 in Rochester to the current Exit 18, just short of the Milton-Union (Wakefield) border. This third section opened in 1981 after three years of construction.
Milton had been by-passed and its stretch of the White Mountain Highway is now a by-way, rather than a highway.
The NH Route 16 designation had shifted successively from its original path through Dover Point, downtown Dover, and NH Route 108 as Spaulding Turnpike construction advanced. Somewhat belatedly, that designation shifted away also from downtown Rochester and Milton to the Spaulding Turnpike in the mid-1990s.
NH Route 16 continues north from Exit 18 of the Spaulding Turnpike. Its alternate name of White Mountain Highway is still used in those stretches of the “old” NH Route 16 that have been bypassed or re-aligned. It is also used in stretches that continue to align with the modern NH Route 16. It is so called in Milton, Sanbornville (Wakefield), West Ossipee, Tamworth, Conway, and North Conway.
Carroll County Independent. (1926, September 3). Record of Public Service Best Campaign Argument. Center Ossipee, NH.
Eastern Roads. (n.d.). Spaulding Turnpike. Retrieved from http://www.bostonroads.com/roads/spaulding/
NH Department of Transportation. (2015). Spaulding Turnpike. Retrieved from https://www.nh.gov/dot/org/operations/turnpikes/system/spaulding.htm
Portsmouth Herald. (30 August 1957). Spaulding Turnpike Now Open to Traffic. Published Portsmouth, NH
Portsmouth Herald. (1977, June 24). News Briefs. Published Portsmouth, NH
Wikipedia. (2018, February 17). New Hampshire Route 16. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Hampshire_Route_16
Wikipedia. (2017, September 25). Spaulding Turnpike. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spaulding_Turnpike