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. In 1828 Abel Crawford and his son, Ethan Allen built the Notch House near Elephant’s Head. It was destroyed by fire in 1854. The first Crawford House was built in the 1850s and destroyed by fire in 1859. And the second Crawford House, seen above in 1906, was built in 1859. It burned to the ground in November 1977. The history of the Crawford House property is a little confusing because some historians refer to the Notch House as the “first Crawford House” while others do not.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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. 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.
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..