A 19th Century Winter Wonderland Adventure

Friends and I have been talking about going away for a historical winter outing for years to a particular establishment remembered from childhood outings. Nestlenook Farm, in Jackson, New Hampshire, boasts a variety of winter activities all in one place! There are sleigh rides (with real horses and actual runners, if there is enough snow!), a three acre skating pond, and snowshoeing trails.

I grew up in a different part of the country, so I hadn’t ever been Nestlenook Farm, but I have fond memories of going into the mountains with my family and best childhood friend to have winter adventures. My memories are of a man called Happy Jack who ran a small business driving draft horses pulling real sleighs through the woods to a hill that was perfect for snow tubing. He’d drop you off for the day, allow the kids to tire themselves out tubing, sledding, and hanging out by the fire pits, and then he’d return to take you back through the woods. It was very exciting!

This past winter I was able to experience all of this fun, but in 19th century clothes! We were worried there wouldn’t be snow. But not only was there snow on the ground, we also had a magical day of snow lightly falling while we took part in the various activities! We could not have asked for more picturesque weather!

We bundled up in our various 19th century (and hidden modern) warm layers, outerwear, accessories, and blankets for our sleigh ride. The sleigh trail circles the ice skating pond and there’s a lovely lookout where the sleigh drivers will pause to take a photo. Ours kindly took many photos, anticipating that we might accidentally make silly faces in some of them.

Now that’s a real smile! It was difficult not to smile, with good company, an obliging sleigh driver, the sound of the horses’ bells jingling, and snow lightly falling!

I opted to wear my American Duchess carriage boots. How could I not? A sleigh is just a carriage with runners, right? Photo documentation of both the boots and the sleigh on actual runners was essential.

In addition to shoes, the rest of my outfit for the day consisted of modern ski base layers, my 1880s yellow corset and 1903 super silk petticoat, 1895 ice skating ensemble, matching faux fur hat and muff set (made for 1917 but with the ability to be used for lots of periods), and my 1855 wool cape because the other layers weren’t quite enough to be warm in the sleigh.

Following the sleigh ride, we went ice skating!

I’ve done a middling amount of outdoor ice skating since moving to the Northeast, but I can say with certainty that I’ve never been ice skating with accumulated snow on the ice. I wasn’t sure if it would be difficult to skate through, so I had to try it! It’s not bad, actually, if it’s only a few inches deep. (When I tried to skate through drifts that were more than about 6″ high I found the dramatic decrease in my momentum to be startling as it threw off my balance. But it was still fun to go flying through drifts!)

A few inches of snow on the ice sort of helps stabilize you (unless it obscures obstacles and trips you up!). That’s what happened to me here. There was uneven ice that caused me to do a super plop as my feet went right out from underneath me. This was the aftermath, as I caught my breath before getting up again.

There weren’t all that many people skating, so it was easy to find areas for nice photos. Skating made me warm enough that I didn’t mind taking off the cape for some ice-skating-outfit-only photos. How could I not, when this outfit was made just for this?

It may not be winter anymore (yay, spring is here!), but it’s fun to revisit this exciting adventure by including it here on the blog. Thanks for enjoying it with me!

14 thoughts on “A 19th Century Winter Wonderland Adventure

  1. Here in New York City, we are enchanted to see your ice-skating ensemble in its intended use and we rejoice for you and your party, so thanks for these pictures. Envy, however, does gnaw at us.

  2. Looks like a wonderful day out and so much fun.
    I have to say you look very cute in the photo after the ice tripped you up, lots of lace of your pretty petticoat on show 🥰

  3. Dear Quinn,

    Oh, oh, oh! New Hampshire in the winter, a real skating pond, with a trimmed bridge, no less, and forest and snow and horses and sleigh and friends? What a dream come true in striking surroundings. Your happiness, as well as that of your friends, simply glows all around you.

    And skating in that outfit, and that *hat*! Terrific.

    Yes, I am glad for spring. Last Saturday it did rain, sleet, accumulate snow, and then the sun came out and it warmed up, in the space of a few hours.

    How I would love to visit that farm someday. Just this little view is simply amazing.

    Thanks so for sharing,

    Natalie in KY

    1. Thank you so much for enjoying the outing with me and appreciating (and noticing!) so many details! It’s really special to have such magical moments. I hope that a visit to such a place is in your future someday! I wonder if anyplace like that exists closer to you than New Hampshire?

      It’s even more spring-like here now. All different colors of blossoms and blooms on trees and shrubs and ground flowers. The trees are still working on leaves, though. I hope spring is bringing warmer weather and beautiful newness to you!

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