Dartmouth Acquired the Second College Grant

The land is characterized by a remote wilderness aesthetic, a diversity of habitat, and pristine waters. In 2007, the College celebrated the 200th anniversary of “The Grant.”

About 140 miles northeast of Hanover, in the north country of New Hampshire, lies Dartmouth’s massive Second College Grant. While the Grant clearly offers fewer cultural events than Hanover, the rugged wilderness provides many unique research and recreational opportunities for Dartmouth students.

Matt Ayres, professor of biology, says the Grant is a “jewel of Dartmouth” that “provides a natural ecological laboratory that inspires and challenges our biology students.” Ayres says students use the almost 42 square miles of wilderness to do research. One ongoing dissertation project measures the effects of atmospheric climate change on stream temperature and ecology.

The land was presented to Dartmouth by the State of New Hampshire in 1807. Dartmouth oversees logging on the land to offset maintenance costs of the Grant. Dartmouth tries to make timber production sustainable and maintain a healthy ecosystem on the land—overseers make efforts to protect soil, limit pesticide use, monitor wildlife habitats, and ensure that the trees are healthy. Kevin Evans, director of Woodland Operations, says, “We cut no more wood than we grow.”

The terrain of the Grant, which is north of the White Mountains, features densely forested rolling hills, rock overhangs, and rushing streams. Wildlife that inhabits Grant land includes moose, bears, owls, woodcocks, martens, and possibly lynx.

Students use the Grant for a variety of recreational activities, too, such as canoeing, cross-country skiing, mountain biking, hunting, and fishing. First-year trips often travel to the Grant, staying in some of the 11 cabins operated by Dartmouth.

The Grant is private property; the entrance is gated and only Dartmouth students, alumni, or employees have vehicular access to the land and can use the cabins. Non-Dartmouth visitors are allowed to stay in the cabins if a Dartmouth community member accompanies them.

One non-Dartmouth visitor in the 1950s happened to be the President of the United States. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who spoke at Dartmouth’s 1953 Commencement, was making a tour of New England in 1955. Arrangements had been made to have Eisenhower visit the Grant for lunch. Knowing there needed to be lots of food for the President’s entourage—which included congressmen, secret service agents, and reporters—Dartmouth President John Sloan Dickey ’29 directed members of the Dartmouth Outing Club (DOC) to fish the Grant’s streams all day to catch the meal. When Eisenhower arrived, he was greeted by Dickey and DOC members, who presented him with membership in the club—and fish for lunch. The gathering was speculated to be the largest ever on the Grant. From recreation to research—and even a bit of presidential history—the Grant provides tremendous resources to students.

Read more from Dartmouth News

Learn about points of interest within the Grant from Dartmouth Outdoors