Milne Nature Sanctuary – Durham, New Hampshire - Atlas Obscura

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Milne Nature Sanctuary

A quiet spot commemorating two naturalists who had to choose between love and the university at which they both taught. 


Tucked away in the woods of Durham, New Hampshire, there is a peaceful spot that was once a quiet sanctuary for two college professors.

In 1948, Lorus and Margery Milne came to Durham to teach zoology at the University of New Hampshire. Margery hailed from New York and Lorus was a native of Toronto, Ontario. The Milnes were an extraordinary couple. Both traveled the world, sometimes on expeditions for the National Geographic Society. They published more than 50 books between them, and many more articles. Both Lorus and Margery taught at the University of New Hampshire in the 1940s, until the university passed a rule stating that married couples could not work in the same department. Subsequently Margery was forced to choose between the man she loved and her career at UNH. In the end, she chose love.

Margery started teaching at other colleges in the area, however, none of them offered a tenure track, especially for a woman. She began working for National Geographic again and continued exploring and writing. The Milnes bought a plot of land near the Mill Pond and Margery became known about town for wearing a giant red hat and calling herself the “keeper of the swans.”

Lorus died in 1987, and Margery in 2006. They left their land to the town to serve as a quiet, hidden away nature retreat for locals to come and enjoy the solitude of nature. In 2009, a commemorative stone and bench were put in place, to honor Margery’s wish.

The park itself is isolated. There is no parking, no facilities, and a single garbage can. The views of the pond are quite lovely and you can climb up over rocks to get closer to the pond. 

Know Before You Go

The park is on Mill Pond Rd across from the intersection of Chelsea drive. There is no parking, no lighting, and no facilities.

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March 3, 2021

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