The 55-foot-tall, 40-foot-wide granite Memorial Arch of Tilton in Northfield was supposed to be a giant tombstone for millionaire Charles Tilton. Alas, things did not work out that way, and now it’s just a monument, with Tilton being buried nearby in a humble plot in a normal cemetery.
Charles Tilton got rich during the California Gold Rush. When he returned to his hometown of Sanbornton Bridge, NH, he invested heavily in it. So much so in fact, that the residents named the town after him when they officially incorporated.
Inspired by the Arch of Titus in Rome, Tilton had his own arch built in the early 1880s on a large hill with one of the best views in the area. He planned on being interred in the large, lion-topped, pink-granite sarcophagus between the two columns at its base. He also planned on Northfield, the adjoining town where the hill was actually located, being incorporated into Tilton. However, when Northfield eventually refused, Tilton forsook his finished monument and was buried in Park Cemetery off West Main Street in his beloved Tilton.
The arch is located on the hill right off Summer Street, close to where it intersects both Bay and Elm Streets. The driveway has a small faded white and blue sign that reads: Tilton Memorial Arch. The keystone of the arch contains a time capsule with newspapers, a book, and silver and gold coins.