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Info - Rattlesnake Island, Lake Winnipesaukee, Alton, NH

Rattlesnake Island is about 2 miles long at its longest point, and approximately 5 miles around its shore. The topography varies greatly. Some sections of the island are quite steep, with the land rising dramatically from the shore (and affording spectacular views), while other sections, particularly on the "peninsula", which protrudes from the southerly side of the island, rise gradually. Topographical map showing Rattlesnake Island

Rattlesnake Island is the highest (in elevation) island on Lake Winnipesaukee. The top of so-called "Mount Rattlesnake" is around 900 feet high - rising just about 400 feet above the mean lake level.

Due to its great height, the island affords some of the best views on the lake. There are hiking trails interconnecting all parts of the island, and these are used frequently by island residents.

Island property owners are required to join the Rattlesnake Island Association, and the yearly association dues are quite modest. In addition to owning land on the island itself, the Rattlesnake Island Association owns a mainland area to the east of Smith Point which includes short term docking and two large parking areas for residents and guests. There is also an area for the parking of boat trailers.

Electric power and wired telephone service is available to all parts of the island, however as of this writing, no other land based services such as cable TV are available.

Were there really rattlesnakes on the island and is that how it came to be named?

Well, from many sources, I can tell you that there were in fact rattlesnakes. A number of people (including some who are still with us!) have reported seeing rattlesnakes, however it has been at least 50 years since any such snakes have been seen on the island!

"I can honestly say, however that the name came from the fact that there were 'rattlers' on the island. I can recall a Weirs Reunion Week exhibition of 'rattlers' caught on the island by experts. A few years ago it was possible to follow down the east shore of the island in a small boat on a bright, clear day, and see one or more snakes on the ledges in the sun. During lumbering operations on the island workmen have been bitten by them. On as least one occasion the island was burned over in an effort to exterminate them, once and for all. But the ledges that are their natural habitat were their natural protection against the fire, and, crawling deep into the rock clefts, they escaped the flames. I have not heard or seen any definite proof of the presence of snakes on the island in recent years."

From "Three Centuries on Winnipesaukee", 1975 - Paul H. Blaisdell. [thanks to "Rattlesnake Gal" for this excerpt]