Sandwich Notch Road, New Hampshire

Sandwich Notch Road in Sandwich, New Hampshire USA during the summer months. This historic route was established in 1801.
Established in 1801 – Sandwich Notch Road, New Hampshire
 

Sandwich Notch Road, New Hampshire – This blog article is written in two parts and focuses on Sandwich Notch in New Hampshire. Today, I will show you the scenic Sandwich Notch Road (Notch Road). And part 2 will be a visual journey of the nineteenth century hill farming community that once was along the Notch Road.

During the early nineteenth century, thirty to forty families lived in the Notch. By 1860 only eight families lived in the Notch and by the turn of the twentieth century only one person, Moses Hall, lived in the Notch year around. Now a private residence the Hall Place is the only house left on the Notch Road.

The Sandwich Notch Road in Sandwich, New Hampshire during the autumn months. This historic road was established in 1801.
Autumn Foliage – Sandwich Notch Road, New Hampshire
 

The Notch Road is an 9 mile east–west one lane dirt road in Thornton and Sandwich that was established over two hundred years ago in 1801. During the early nineteenth century, Sandwich Notch Road was what Interstate 93 is to us today.

Nineteenth century farmers who lived in northwestern New Hampshire and Vermont used the Notch Road to bring their products and livestock to coastal towns where they would sell them and purchase needed homestead supplies. At the time, the road through the Notch was a shortcut to the coast that saved farmers time and money. Can you imagine droves of livestock coming down this road? It must have been a sight to see!

Cow Cave along the Bearcamp River Trail in Sandwich, New Hampshire USA during the summer months. Legend has it that a cow wandered away from a farm and spent a winter in this cave.
Cow Cave – Sandwich Notch Park, New Hampshire
 

Most who travel the Notch Road today are destined for Sandwich Notch Park to visit Beede Falls and Cow Cave (above). Legend has it that a cow wandered away from a farm and spent a winter in this cave.

While researching the area, I noticed there is some confusion as to where Cow Cave is located. A few history books refer to Cow Cave as being a ledge overhang along Bearcamp River Trail, near Beede Falls, while others state Beede Falls is Cow Cave. A sign at Beede Falls, next to the bridge, indicates the cave is along the trail. And after viewing a historical image of the cave, I believe the above cave is Cow Cave.

Beede Falls on Bearcamp River in Sandwich Notch in Sandwich, New Hampshire USA during the summer months.
Beede Falls – Sandwich Notch Park , New Hampshire
 

If you plan to visit only Beede Falls and Cow Cave drive in from the Sandwich side. The Sandwich side of the Notch Road is a much easier ride than traveling across the entire length of the Notch Road from Thornton. Sandwich Notch Road is a very rough dirt road, and I recommend that only high clearance vehicles travel it.

Reflection of autumn foliage in Upper Hall Pond in Sandwich, New Hampshire USA during the autumn months.
Upper Hall Pond – Sandwich Notch, New Hampshire
 

A handful of picturesque ponds are along the Notch Road, but Upper Hall Pond (above) and Kiah Pond (below) are the standouts. Early in the morning, the reflection in both of these ponds is excellent. And Kiah Pond is breathtaking during the autumn foliage season. If interested in remote ponds, you can hike to the secluded Black Mountain Pond and Guinea Pond.

Sandwich Notch - Kiah Pond during the autumn months in Sandwich, New Hampshire.
Kiah Pond – Sandwich Notch, New Hampshire
 

From 1917-1942, the Beebe River Railroad logged in the area and today evidence of the railroad can still be found along the Beebe River and in the Sandwich Wilderness. After the logging era, there was great concern Sandwich Notch would be developed (vacation homes, etc.) because the Notch land was not protected under National Forest policies. And conservationists started creating awareness for the Notch.

Softwood forest along Bearcamp River Trail in Sandwich, New Hampshire USA during the summer months.
Forest – Sandwich Notch, New Hampshire
 

In the early 1970s, Elizabeth Yates, author of “The Road Through Sandwich Notch”, with her dog walked the entire length of the Notch Road to discover for herself why the Notch should be protected. Her book was influential in protecting the Notch for its cultural history. And in the 1970s / 1980s a campaign "Save the Notch" was successful and today the entire length of the Notch Road lies within some form of protected property.

“The Road Through Sandwich Notch” is one of the most inspirational books I have ever read on protecting our cultural history. It is out of print, but if you search the internet, you should be able to find a used copy.

Sandwich Notch Road in Sandwich, New Hampshire USA during the autumn months. This historic route was established in 1801.
Foggy Morning – Sandwich Notch Road, New Hampshire
 

Sandwich Notch Road is a perfect example as to why activism is so important in land conservation. If people didn’t speak up and fight to protect the Notch years ago, more than likely the Notch Road would be paved and lined with condominiums today, and the history of the road would be forever gone.

Cellar hole from a nineteenth century hill farm community along Sandwich Notch Road in Sandwich, New Hampshire USA during the autumn months. Sandwich Notch Road is a historic route established in 1801, and during the early 1800’s thirty to forty families lived in the Notch. By the first decade of the twentieth century only one resident, Moses Hall, lived in the Notch.
Ira Dustin Place Home Site – Sandwich Notch, New Hampshire
 

When Elizabeth Yates journeyed through Sandwich Notch, the abandoned homesteads from the nineteenth century hill farming community along the Notch Road intrigued her. Today these homesteads are long gone, but if you allow the Notch Road to talk, it will tell the story of them. Part 2 of this blog article will be a visual journey showcasing the current state of this early nineteenth century hill farming community.

All of the above images can be licensed for publications by clicking on the image. And keep in mind only high clearance vehicles should attempt to drive this road. You can view more images of Sandwich Notch Road here.

Continue on to part 2; Sandwich Notch Hill Farming Community

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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14 Responses to “Sandwich Notch Road, New Hampshire”

  1. Jenn

    Can you park near the falls for pictures and by the ponds as well thinking of a day trip with my sis?

    Reply
    • Erin Paul Donovan

      Hi Jenn,

      Yes, there is a parking lot for the waterfall. And it is a short 10 minute +/- walk to the falls. And yes can also drive right to the ponds. Both ponds are located on dirt roads off of Sandwich Notch Road. Take a look at a map of the area so you can find them. Also, make sure you have a high clearance vehicle (these roads are rough).

      Have fun, its a great area to explore

      Reply
  2. Marycatherine Cunningham

    Well I can say I “survived” going over this road Columbus Weekend in a Nissan Murano. Mind you, this was not my intent really as I had never heard of this road before but after going on a joy ride, followed Rte 4 into Waterville Valley. When I hit my “home” button & this is the way it took me! Thank God I didn’t go off the road as the ditches were huge. But I too can now say I’m a member of an “elite” group of people that went on the Notch Road! ??

    Reply
  3. Paul Clark

    Like many, my wife and I found this amazing road accidentally.  But maybe a bit intentionally also. We are always on the lookout for these long dirt roads, so please share more with me if you can. I have been hearing Triploi rd is similar, just not as long. Any other great notches or roads like this y'all can share? Thank you for the amazing pictures and historical update. Heading up there in a few hrs actually 

    Reply
  4. David LaValley

    Erin

    I Have to say that I have spent 40 years in NH and I absolutly love the Notch Road. I think it is the best Jem we have in NH. My wife and I went out for a ride this weekend and found it by mistake. Best car ride ever.

    Found your artical on the road when I got home., I loved it!  Thank you

     

    PS : If you know of other jems like this please let me know.

    Reply
    • Erin Paul Donovan

      Hi David,

      Sandwich Notch Road is awesome! If you enjoy reading, consider purchasing a copy of “The Road Through Sandwich Notch” by Elizabeth Yates. Its out of print, but you should be able to find a used copy online.

      Reply
  5. Vicki Van Camp

    Hi Sean, My grandparents Les and Bea Smith owned a 150 acre farm at the Thornton side of the notch. A mile up the road to the panoramic view which was theirs from about 1920 to 1993. They ran a summer camp for kids for about 30 years. They would venture to Mad River for daily swims. My grandfather spent many a day on Halls Pond fishing for perch and trout. I grew up there half my life!! Love it there. Haven't been back for awhile as I live in Florida now. Loved your pictures and spent a lot of time as a kid around cow caves. A trip down memory lane. Thank you!!! Vicki

    Reply
    • Erin Paul Donovan

      Hi Vicki,

      I am glad you enjoyed it.  I love the Sandwich Notch area, and it is an awesome area to explore! If you ever come back to New Hampshire, you should visit the Sandwich Notch area again 🙂 .

      Reply
  6. sean byrnes

    hi erin paul im a 20 year resident of thorton/ upper mad river rd. – ive spent a lot of time over the years hunting- fishing- hiking-snowmobiling – i came across som e remote apple orchards between sandwi8ch notch rd. & chickenboro rd.- i have looked for infomation line & asked around a little with no real answers of the history of these remote orchards or when land was cleared & orchard was planted – thought it might be part of the old orchards at top of sandwich notch rd. where they stop plowing snow  planted- the one off chickenboro rd, was severley overgrown & ravaged by hungry bears for years- the other one on the other side of mountain got cleaned up couple years back- not sure who did work i was under impression forest service was in charge of land as its all in forest service land – looking for any info you might have on these remote orchards- the one on chickenboro side has the old chickenboro rd. going thru middle of it so that leads me to believe that it might date back to time when chickenboro was a thriving farm community back in early 1800's – also do you have any info on chickenbor community ? there are numerous abandoned cellar holes along chickenboro rd as an old granite bridge abbutment where rd. crossed over chickenboro brook & continued up thru the eremote orchard- i would like to find some old photos of chickenboro settlement and/or orchards along with early photos of sandwich notch community- i havent dug to deep yet for pics thought id ask while on apple orchards subject – any infomation you can provide would be helpful- thanks sean byrnes

    Reply
    • Erin Paul Donovan

      Hi Sean,

      I do not know anything about the Chickenboro farming community. It sounds interesting, and I will have to look into one of these days. But I do kinda of know the area you are talking about that is in between Chickenboro Road and Sandwich Notch Road. And I would guess (only a guess) that the old apple orchards you found are from the old farming settlements that were in the area. If you can find some of the old maps of that area it may be possible to determine who once owned the farm the orchards are on.

      For old photos of Sandwich Notch – Contact the Sandwich Historical Society.

      For the old photos of the Chickenboro farming community – I have never seen any, but if I do come across any I will let you know.

      Hope this helps

      Reply
  7. Doc Glick

    Just returned from a ride thru the notch.  Live in Ossipee 40+ years. Drove the Kanc to 93 then the Tripoli Rd.  Hiked 4 hours in the Waterville Valley area then the Notch Rd in a 2014 Toyota Camry.  Tight going in THAT car.  Only passed one SUV and they had a place to pull off. Nice to have access from the road, but it is in rough shape.  Not recommended for cars like ours. regard, Doc

    Reply
    • Erin Paul Donovan

      WOW! I can’t believe you made it across the Notch Road in a Toyota Camry. I always recommend that only high clearance vehicles travel the Notch Road. The road does seem to be geting rougher and rougher every year.

      Reply

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