It's located in the White Mountains, that grand bumpy patch of state that pulls vacationers from across New England and beyond, especially in the Fall. It’s a great place to be a ghost, a town, or a ghost town.
Livermore was established in 1876 to support a logging industry. At its most populated, there were between 150-200 sawdust-covered residents. Plus itinerant lumberjacks. The business was owned by a family of Harvard-educated Boston lawyers named Saunders, and the town itself was named for Samuel Livermore, a New Hampshire senator related to the Saunders by marriage.
I’m not going to wax romantic. It seems like there's not too much in the tale. But now, as a 65-year-old ghost town, it’s an exciting place. Even if it is just some overgrown masonry by a river.
The place is almost unsatisfyingly easy to get to. Route 302 cuts through the middle of White Mountain National Forest, and about halfway along that (before Frankenstein Cliff if you’re coming from the south) is a well-maintained dirt road called Sawyer River Road, which parallels its namesake. About two miles in, the road splits the ghost town in half.
But then we crossed the road and clambered down the embankment toward the river. Here, in a much more open patch of forest, is where every kid in Grafton County should be taking his or her senior pictures.
We climbed up and down the ruins until we were satisfied that we’d explored every crevice, and then headed in the direction the aforementioned map told us to go to see more ruins. But we ran into something unexpected.
Here’s the weirdest thing about this ghost town. In the middle of these forested ruins is an actual modern residential property. A house, I believe is the term. The lawn was verdant and well-maintained. A truck was parked in the driveway. Kids were playing in the backyard. And here I was jumping around looking for snakes and traces of long-dead men and women, feeling exhilarated and maudlin at the same time. Some of the ghost town even seems to be on their property, including the foundation for the town store, which you can tell by the rusting hulk of a large safe overturned in its center and which I only approached through a zoom lens so as not to trespass.
I know I'm doing a bad job of establishing the humanity behind these ivied hunks of worked stone. So I’m going to send you elsewhere for that, to the backstory of the place as laid out in a 1969 issue of Yankee Magazine, when the corpse of the town was still relatively fresh.
Once we were done exploring the ghost town, we hopped back into our car and drove away. Finding the place so easily might have been slightly unsatisfying, but being able to throw our sweaty, bug-bitten carcasses back into air conditioning and Procol Harum tunes was a great relief, and the way every ghost town trek should end.