Crawford House, Gibbs Brook Dam

Crawford House c. 1906 in the New Hampshire White Mountains by the Detroit Publishing Company. Courtesy Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection,[LC-DIG-det-4a13669].
c. 1906 Crawford House – Courtesy Library of Congress, LC-DIG-det-4a13669
 

Crawford House, Gibbs Brook Dam If you are familiar with New Hampshire’s forgotten grand resorts, then you know the historic Crawford House in Carroll. Abel Crawford and his son, Ethan Allen built the first Crawford House, known as the Notch House, in 1828. Fire would destroy the Notch House in 1854. A second Crawford House was built and destroyed by fire in 1859. And the third Crawford House, seen above in 1906, was built in 1859. It burned to the ground in November 1977.

Numerous improvements were made to the Crawford House over the years. And at one point Saco Lake was enlarged and deepened (M.F. Sweetser’s 1876 White Mountains: a handbook for travellers guide). The resort was known worldwide, and notable guests include Daniel Webster, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thomas Starr King, and a few presidents.

Appalachian Mountain Club Highland Center from Elephant Head.
Appalachian Mountain Club's Highland Center, New Hampshire
 

Today, the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Highland Center occupies the site of the Crawford House. The above two photos of the Crawford House site were taken 105 years apart. Not much remains of the historic resort, but some remnants of it are in plain view.

An old dam on Gibbs Brook near Crawford Path in the New Hampshire White Mountains during the spring months. This dam and piping system (out of sight) supplied water to the old Crawford House.
Gibbs Brook Dam – Crawford Path, New Hampshire
 

Gibbs Brook, named for J.L Gibbs, an earlier proprietor of the Crawford House, supplied water to the Crawford House. And just above where the Crawford Connector crosses Gibbs Brook, at its junction with Crawford Path, the abandoned dam (above) can still be seen in the brook.

An old dam on Gibbs Brook near Crawford Path in the New Hampshire White Mountains during the spring months. This dam and piping system (out of sight) supplied water to the old Crawford House. The Crawford House was located where the AMC Highland Center is today. When the Crawford House rebuilt this dam in the 1960s, they reinforced the dam with old iron cots that were in the basement of the Crawford House. These iron cots can be seen in the dam today.
Iron Cots – Gibbs Brook Dam, New Hampshire
 

When Crawford House management rebuilt the dam in the 1960s (could have been late 1950s, the date is not clear), they reinforced the dam with old iron cots that were in the basement of the Crawford House. The iron cots can be seen in the dam today. What a great use of bed frames!

Piping along the Crawford Path, near Gibbs Brook, in the New Hampshire White Mountains. This piping system and dam (out of sight) supplied water to the old Crawford House. The Crawford House was located where the AMC Highland Center is today. The Crawford Path is the oldest continuously used mountain trail in America, passes by this dam.
Crawford House Piping – Crawford Path, New Hampshire
 

Along the lower section of Crawford Path is the old piping system that ran from the dam down to the Crawford House. Hikers hiking the Crawford Path, the oldest continuously used mountain trail in America, get to see firsthand remnants of the grand resort days. The pipe (above) is anchored down in places.

In 1911-1912, the United States Geological Survey built a number of stream gauging stations in the White Mountains to determine the effects of deforestation on stream flow. Courtesy National Archives & Records Administration.
Gibbs Brook Gauging Station, October 1911 – Courtesy National Archives & Records Administration
 

In 1911-1912, the United States Geological Survey built a number of stream gauging stations in the White Mountains. These stations where used to determine the effects of deforestation on streamflow. The results from these studies showed that cutting trees from the forest affected streamflow. And ultimately helped in the creation of the White Mountain National Forest. The Gibbs Brook dam site is likely the location of the gauging station that was on Gibbs Brook. Above is the gauging station in October 1911.

An old dam on Gibbs Brook in the New Hampshire White Mountains during the spring months. This dam, rebuilt in the 1960s, and piping system (out of sight) supplied water to the old Crawford House. The Crawford House was located where the AMC Highland Center is today. Crawford Path, the oldest continuously used mountain trail in America, passes by this dam.
Gibbs Brook Dam – Crawford Path, New Hampshire
 

After heavy rains and during the spring snowmelt the Gibbs Brook dam becomes a picturesque waterfall. It is a unique scene that showcases man’s interaction with nature during the grand resort days. If you are visiting the scenic Gibbs Falls, it is worth visiting this forgotten piece of White Mountains history.

To license any of the color photos in this blog article for publications, click on the photo. And you can view more scenes from Gibbs Brook here.

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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