Origin of Kehonka Hill

Written by A. Cooper “Bally” Ballentine

 Four of us had become New Hampshire citizens by 1925, to concentrate on Camp Kehonka and the American Camping Association. A big anticipation as by-product was enjoyment throughout the entire year of the woodland environment of Kehonka. The four: Miss Mattoon, retired from teaching, and now the first salaried executive of ACA; Alice Crane, loyal housekeeper; Allen Evans, Harvard PhD; and I.

After renting for three winters, we bought a lot in Wolfeboro with a view of Winnipesaukee. An architect’s plans for a sizable house were submitted to a contractor in the early fall of 1929. While negotiating, there came to our attention the 200+ acres of Jungalow Camps with two houses combined as one, seven summertime cottages, and a recreation building. Jungalow had been a financial problem to two successive owners. The spread of lodge and cabins made a sale for family use unlikely. Consequently, it was up for a quick sale at half the cost of our proposed new home.

Naturally, I asked to see the boundaries. The agent said, “What you can see is enough, ain’t it?” Every year since then has confirmed the fact that it was indeed enough to be a rare bargain.

An immediate advantage, Kehonka Hill is 2 ½ miles from Kehonka, whereas the contemplated new house was 5 ½ miles.

Much negotiating was done in a short time. The town fathers were eager to cooperate, to get the property back on the tax books. Carpenters swarmed in to make the main dwelling more comfortable against wintry winds. The earthen floor of the large basement of the double house and covered with concrete. Nearly everything pertaining to water supply and heating had to be brought within reasonable repair. After years of pioneering outdoors at Kehonka, the changes in the new abode soon ranged from better to delightful from our point of view.

At first, establishing residence at Jungalow, now Kehonka Hill, seemed slow and tentative. Kehonka had conditioned us to bigness so that the tentativeness was not a question of our succeeding in the new setting. It was simply a fact of life that a place is not home until you have evolved memorable associations there. Roots have to grow with strengths of durable meanings.

The property extends half a mile to Knight’s Pond, the source then of the summer time water supply. Someone had to go the half mile to start by cranking the gasoline pump. It was stopped by floats in two water tower tanks on the hill. Flow of water to the buildings was by gravity. Pressure tanks had not yet entered plumbing conveniences.

A steam operated pump brought water from a spring close to Route 28. When the handy little steam engine was abandoned, it was dismantled. Today, like many outmoded essentials, it would be a valuable antique. A silicon chip may be the next form of water pump.

In front of our Kehonka Hill in 1984 is a huge lilac bush much older than 100 years. It spreads across a hole in a stone wall exceeding the lilac’s age. The opening leads to a cellar hole of the home of the earliest settlers. We used their excellent stoned-up dug well until a drilled well gave a more adequate supply.

In 1929, before the advent of snowplows, getting to town and back by horse-drawn sleds for wintertime shopping take half a day or longer. Easy access to a road in the snow and mud seasons accounts for so many barns being close to an original dirt road in Northern England.

Near the spring at the edge of Route 28 was a stable with loft for storage of hay. This building was moved and remodeled to form the two-story Bali Hi at the end of Kehonka’s Cove tentline.

In the Jungalow era, automobiles were assembled with wooden wheels, fabric tops if any, and other materials vulnerable to rain and hot sun. A shelter was essential, preferably in a barn or garage. Jungalow provided during the summer a large tent which was carried away by an extra strong wind. Restoration of automobiles improved the garage business for several weeks.

The proximity of Kehonka Hill to Camp Kehonka facilitates the transportation of Point and Cove campers for special occasions celebrated in the recreation building or in the fields. Mt. Chocorua and Mt. Washington appear in the background of a sixty mile view across valleys, and the lesser mountains.

While contemplating the historic significance of the Camp and Hill properties, I am reminded of an article written by a woman from the U.S.A. living within the normally compact lifestyle of Japan. She emphasizes how much we in the U.S.A. take for granted the benefits of space. How true! At Camp Kehonka and Kehonka Hill such benefits every year become more of a rarity. The Ballentines with their progeny are determined to maintain and to advance in the long-time traditional spacious activities and s enjoyed by the steadily expanding Kehonka family. Long may CK and KH endure!

Kehonka Hill Sign - still visible from Rte 28

Kehonka Hill Sign - still visible from Rte 28


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