Mt Willard Section House, Crawford Notch

Crawford Notch State Park - Location of the Mt Willard Section house, which was at the end of the Willey Brook Trestle along the old Maine Central Railroad in the White Mountains, New Hampshire. This section house was built by the Maine Central Railroad in 1887 to house the section foreman and crew who maintained the track. From 1903-1942 the Hattie Evans family lived at the house, it was destroyed by fire in 1972.
Mt Willard Section House c. 1900 – From The New York Public Library
 

Mt Willard Section House, Crawford Notch – Above is the historic Mt Willard Section House and the Willey Brook Bridge (c. 1900) along the old Maine Central Railroad in Crawford Notch, New Hampshire. Completed to Fabyan's in August 1875 by the Portland & Ogdensburg Railroad, the building of this railroad was an amazing accomplishment, but to also build a house on the edge of it makes this an incredible story.

The railroad would eventuality be leased to the Maine Central Railroad. And the Mt Willard Section House was built in 1887 to house section foreman James E. Mitchell, his family, and crew who maintained Section 139 of the railroad. James and his family lived a short distance up the tracks before moving into the Mt Willard Section House. 

Willey Brook Trestle along the old Maine Central Railroad in Hart's Location, New Hampshire. This trestle is within Crawford Notch State Park. And since 1995 the Conway Scenic Railroad, which provides passenger excursion trains, has been using the track.
Mt Willard Section House – Maine Central Railroad
 

In 1903 Loring Evans took over as foreman of Section 139 and with his wife, Hattie, moved into the Mt Willard Section House. Loring was killed ten years later in a railroading accident at Crawford's yard, but Hattie remained living in the Section House until 1942. She would raise their four children at the Section House, and continue to house the men who worked Section 139. Unfortunately, endless vandalism to the Section House would force Maine Central Railroad to burn it down in December 1972. Above is how the site looks today.

The site of the Mt. Willard Section House along the old Maine Central Railroad, next to the Willey Brook Trestle, in Crawford Notch State Park of New Hampshire. This section house, built by the Maine Central Railroad in 1887, housed the section foreman and crew who maintained the track. From 1903-1942, the Hattie Evans family lived at the house. It was destroyed by fire in 1972.
Mt Willard Section House Site – Maine Central Railroad
 

Because of the activities surrounding the Mt Willard Section House when the Evans family occupied it, the legacy of Hattie Evans is forever implanted into White Mountains history. And even though the Section House was burned down in 1972, the foundation, a memorial, and small garden keep this important historical site front and center. The Conway Scenic Railroad’s Notch Train also passes by here on its way to Crawford Depot.

Crawford Notch State Park - Location of the Mt. Willard Section House is located at the end of the Willey Brook Trestle along the old Maine Central Railroad in the White Mountains, New Hampshire USA. The section house was built by the Maine Central Railroad in 1887 to house the section foreman and crew who maintained the track along the face of Crawford Notch. It was destroyed by fire in 1972.
Mt Willard Section House – Evans Family Monument
 

A few books have been written about railroading in Crawford Notch. And history enthusiasts will enjoy “Life by the tracks” by Virginia C. Downs. As the title suggests, its about the lifestyle of the Evans family living within feet of the Maine Central Railroad for almost forty years during an era when railroading was a way of life.

Crawford Notch State Park - 1875 carved into ledge at the Mt Willard Section House site along the Maine Central Railroad in the White Mountains, New Hampshire. Chartered in 1867 as the Portland & Ogdensburg Railroad, reorganized as the Portland & Ogdensburg Railway in 1886 and then leased to the Maine Central Railroad in 1888 and later abandoned in 1983. Since 1995 the Conway Scenic Railroad, which provides passenger excursion trains has been using the track.
Mt Willard Section House – Carvings in Ledge
 

This blog article is only an introduction to a unique historical site here in the White Mountains. At some point, I plan to update it with more interesting information. So for now, if you do visit the site be sure to admire all the old carvings (above) in the ledge. And you can read the fascinating story of Private L. Dudley Leavitt guarding the Willey Brook Trestle in 1917, one month after the United States entered into World War 1.

Happy image making..


 

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Erin Paul is a professional photographer who specializes in environmental conservation and historic preservation photography in the New Hampshire White Mountains. His work is published worldwide, and credits include; Backpacker Magazine, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the Appalachian Mountain Club, and The Wilderness Society.

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