Off-the-Grid Hermit Whose Cabin in the Woods Burned to Ground Speaks Out About Fundraising Efforts on His Behalf

by Jennifer Shea

Hours after New Hampshire hermit David Lidstone, known to kayakers and boaters as “River Dave,” defended himself in court over the fate of his cabin in the woods, a fire burned the cabin down, leaving Lidstone without a home.

The state fire marshal’s office is reportedly investigating the fire, the Associated Press reports. But in the meantime, the hermit needs a place to stay.

Lidstone had been living off the grid for the past 27 years. He stayed in a two-level cabin in the woods along the Merrimack River near the town of Canterbury. The owner of that tract of land contends that Lidstone was basically squatting there without permission. Lidstone claims a previous owner gave his word that Lidstone could live there. But nothing was put in writing.

Meanwhile, Lidstone told the AP that he’s staying with friends for now.

Off-The-Grid Hermit Speaks Out About Friends’ Fundraising Efforts

“I live down there in the woods because I like being alone, being away from people, so this publicity is not anything that I’m used to at all,” Lidstone told the AP on Sunday.

However, since July 15, Lidstone had been not in the woods but in jail on a civil contempt citation over his occupation of the cabin. Property owner Leonard Giles was trying to get Lidstone off the grounds. Giles had refused to go to a mediator, as a judge suggested.

On Thursday, a judge decided that Lidstone was unlikely to return to that patch of woods after his cabin had been reduced to ashes. So he released Lidstone on the spot.

“I feel about as good as I ever have in my life,” Lidstone told the AP, adding that he’s fortunate to have many friends.

One of those friends, Jodie Gedeon, a local kayaker, said people have been talking about setting up a trust for Lidstone and finding him a new home. Lidstone has received offers to stay on at least 20 tracts of land from California to Maine.

“So, it’s really up to David now,” Gedeon said. “David, pick where you want to live, and we will get you set up before winter.”

Lidstone Accepts He May Never Go Back To Woodlot

The space where the hermit built his cabin is several miles from Interstate 93, just north of Concord, New Hampshire. Trees kept the cabin hidden from view. The 73-acre property is used for timber harvests and has belonged to the same family since 1963. They have no plans to develop the land.

A new hearing on the property is set to take place Wednesday. Lidstone wants to get a surveyor to visit his cabin site, believing that will somehow help prove he had a right to stay in the cabin.

“It looks to me like now I may never set foot on that piece of land again,” he conceded.

Lidstone said he tried to go back to gather some of his belongings, but he heard he had to turn to the police for help.

“The main thing I wanted out of the whole thing was my Bible,” he said. “Hopefully, Canterbury police took it home… I had the keys to camp and the camp’s just ashes. So I have the keys to God’s heart, and that’s all I got.”