By Staff Sgt. Matthew Coleman-Foster | Peterson-Schriever Garrison Public Affairs
NEW BOSTON AIR FORCE STATION, N.H.— New Boston Air Force Station hosted a Heritage Hike with the local community to recognize the installation’s role as one of the last stops on the Underground Railroad, Feb. 20.
Members from New Boston AFS and the local community attended the day-long hike toward the remnants of the Melendy home, which consisted of some granite stones forming a cellar and the barn’s foundation. Once the group reached the Melendy Farmstead, Steve Najjar, 23rd SOPS natural resources planner, told of the site’s significance as one of the final stops on the Underground Railroad, an organized network to assist enslaved people escape to freedom in the North, as well as the history of Amherst, New Hampshire.
“Luther and Lucinda Melendy were heavily involved with the abolitionist movement,” said Najjar. “They really put themselves out there. For their stance on slavery, they were excommunicated from their church. I think it’s just significant to show how New Hampshire really played in the eventual demise of slavery.”
On the 2,849 square mile densely-wooded station, there are more than 30 historic archeological sites, one of which is the Melendy Farmstead. Najjar explained that as the stewards of the many archaeological sites on New Boston AFS, the installation works to learn about its history and share it with others.
“Through the years, we’ve made efforts to celebrate the history surrounding this site and its association with the abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad,” said Najjar. “So, as part of our overall land management and cultural resources stewardship, we’re sharing access [with the community] to those historically significant sites.”
Lt. Col. Daniel Highlander, Space Delta 6, 23rd SOPS commander, said he has a vision to increase local partnership opportunities with the local community.
“The base has been around since the early 1940s as a practice area for bombers and fighter planes before it turned into a satellite tracking station in 1959,” Highlander said. “The local community has very limited insight into what occurs on the installation. This event is an opportunity to educate community members about the squadron, installation and U.S. Space Force missions. It also allows service members to become more connected to their local community.”
The on-base hike was made possible due to a partnership of the Amherst Historical Commission and Space Delta 6’s 23rd Space Operations Squadron