The Gilford Islands
In the early settlement of Gilford, the Gilford islands were generally ignored except for the logging of mast pines that were used in the shipbuilding industry. Later farmers would clear some of the land on the islands to pasture their sheep, cows, and pigs during the summer months. In the 1850’s the railroad arrived in Gilford and with it came the tourists who were looking for fresh air, and peace and tranquility. By the early 1900’s camps were appearing on the islands as people happily enjoyed the beauty of their natural surroundings.* Today, many families enjoy island living and a whole cottage industry exists to support island life.
Governor’s Island is in Gilford, but it is bridged and has more in common with the mainland. It is not part of the Gilford Islands Association.
Although there are five larger islands in Lake Winnipesaukee, Welch Island is the largest Gilford Island with 187 acres. It is followed by Timber with 136 acres, Mark with 102 acres, Jolly with 50 acres, Round with 43 acres, and Lockes with 42. The remaining Gilford Islands have lower acreage and include Diamond, Camp, Mink, Birch, Crescent (Duds), Eagle, Fish, Kinneho, Little Camp, Pig, Pop, Breezy, and Rock.
Most of the Gilford Islands now have electricity but not all of them. Diamond and Camp do not. The US mailboat, the M/V Sophie C, the only floating US Post Office in the US, still makes mail stops to many islands in Lake Winnipesaukee. Gilford Islands residents on Birch and Jolly can still have their US mail delivered by mailboat.
*The Gunstock Parish, A History of Gilford New Hampshire, by Adair D. Mulligan, Phoenix Publishing, 1995