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‘River Dave,’ banned from New Hampshire site, moves to Maine

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(AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
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FILE - David Lidstone, 81, known to locals as "River Dave," stands for a photograph near the Merrimack River on Aug. 10, 2021, in Boscawen, N.H. Lidstone, a former hermit who a year ago was forced to leave his New Hampshire compound after two decades, has found a new home in Maine.

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A hermit known as River Dave — whose cabin in the New Hampshire woods burned down after he had spent nearly three decades on the property and was ordered to leave — has found a new home in Maine.

David Lidstone, 82, has put in windows and is working on installing a chimney on his rustic three-room cabin, which he said is on land he bought.

“The foundation needs repair work,” Lidstone, who received more than $200,000 in donations following the fire, said in a phone interview on Monday. “It’s just an old camp, but I enjoy working (on it).”

Lidstone, who grew up in Maine, declined to say where he was living or provide a contact for the landowner. A search of Maine county registers of deeds did not show any recent transactions involving Lidstone, but a cousin confirmed that he had moved to Maine, and a Facebook post had photos of Lidstone with a family member in his new home.

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(AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
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FILE — David Lidstone, 81, sits near the Merrimack River on Aug. 10, 2021, in Boscawen, N.H. Lidstone, a former hermit who a year ago was forced to leave his New Hampshire compound after two decades, has found a new home in Maine.

“He’s working on putting it together, and clearing land, and planting gardens, and he’s got some chickens. He’s moving on,” said Horace Clark, of Vermont, Lidstone’s cousin.

Lidstone said he had to leave Canterbury, New Hampshire, over his dispute with a different landowner since 2016 over a patch of forest near the Merrimack River that Lidstone called home for 27 years. A judge issued an injunction in 2017 for him to leave after the landowner, Leonard Giles, sued him, and another judge recently ruled Lidstone would receive a $500-a-day fine if he didn’t move.

There have been many delays in the case. Besides the pandemic, Lidstone didn’t always show up for court, and he was in and out of jail as he resisted the injunction.

It also was difficult to serve Lidstone with a notice to appear in court. There’s no road access to the property, which is about a mile and a half (2.4 kilometers) into the woods. In January, one process server slipped, fell down an embankment and injured his leg in his attempt to reach Lidstone, according to a motion filed by Giles’ attorney.

In March, a judge said Lidstone would face the daily fine if he didn’t leave the area by April 11. The judge ruled Lidstone also has to pay some of Giles’ legal fees. Separately, Lidstone faces trespassing charges in connection with the property.

“Sometimes, you have to stand up for what is right,” he said in January.

Court records said the undeveloped property has been in the Giles family since 1963 and is used for timber harvests.

Lidstone, who represented himself in court, had claimed that years ago, the current owner’s father gave his word — but nothing in writing — allowing him to live there. He also disputed whether he was on the property in the first place.

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