Tilton Memorial Arch.

Tilton Arch: An Unoccupied Tomb

Field review by the editors.

Northfield, New Hampshire

Charles Tilton was the richest man in Tilton, New Hampshire, the wealthy son of a wealthy son of a wealthy father. He reportedly took a holiday to Rome in 1881, and came back with a brilliant idea. He was going to build a colossal Roman arch, and it would honor not some pagan dynasty, but the wonderful Tilton family.

It went up in 1882, 50 feet tall and 40 feet wide. Tilton wanted everyone to see his arch, and since his town lacked any good promontories, he had it built on a hilltop in the adjacent town of Northfield. Old postcard views show that when the arch was new the hill was treeless, so its existence was inescapable.

No one is interred here.

By the following year, Tilton's concept of his arch had evolved. Beneath the arch he placed a giant red granite sarcophagus, topped with a sleeping lion. He evidently intended to be buried in it, but somehow those plans got derailed. When Tilton died, he was instead buried in a comparatively obscure cemetery mausoleum back in his home town.

Today, the Tilton Arch is as lonely as it's always been on its hilltop perch, and it's actually difficult to see from the town below because of all the tall trees. It's a good thing Charles Tilton can't come back from the dead as an angry mummy.

Tilton Arch: An Unoccupied Tomb

Tilton Arch Park

9 Summer St., Northfield, NH
The entrance to Tilton Arch Park is just south of The Arches Assisted Living home,which is on the west side of Summer St. just south of its intersection with Elm St./Bay St.
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