Trailside History, White Mountains

Trailside history, a lone hiker traveling south along the Appalachian Trail (Franconia Ridge Trail) in the New Hampshire White Mountains during the winter months. Mount Lincoln is in the background.
Franconia Ridge Trail (2008) – White Mountains, New Hampshire
 

Trailside History, White Mountains – The history of the trail system in the New Hampshire White Mountains is amazing; early 19th-century trail builders are true legends of the White Mountains, and they are forever implanted into the history books. Trails built in the 1800s, such as Crawford Path, Davis Path, and Lowe’s Path, are still in use today. And while the building of hiking trails is a great topic, there are also many interesting features along the trails.

Trailside features such as Cow Cave, Gibbs Brook dam, Walton’s Cascade, and the many abandoned cellar holes along the trail system have some intriguing history attached to them, but they are often unnoticed by today’s hikers. So this blog article focuses on a few trailside features.

An old dam on Gibbs Brook is trailside near Crawford Path in the New Hampshire White Mountains
Gibbs Brook Dam – Crawford Path, New Hampshire
 

Named for J.L Gibbs, an earlier proprietor of the 19th-century Crawford House, Gibbs Brook supplied water to the Crawford House. Near where the Crawford Connector crosses Gibbs Brook, at its junction with Crawford Path, the abandoned dam can still be seen in the brook. When the Crawford House management rebuilt the dam in the 1960s (possibly late 1950s), 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.

Trailside are along the Ethan Pond trail are remnants of a Geological Survey Gage from the 1911-1912 study along the North Fork of the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River in the New Hampshire White Mountains.
Geological Survey Gage – Ethan Pond Trail, New Hampshire
 

Along the Ethan Pond Trail (Appalachian Trail) at the North Fork of the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River crossing are remnants of a Geological Survey Gage from a 1911-1912 study. During the early 1900s, the United States Geological Survey built a number of water gaging stations in the White Mountains to determine the effects of deforestation on stream flow.

Built 1923-1924, Memorial Bridge crosses Cold Brook along “The Link” trail in Randolph, New Hampshire.
Memorial Bridge – The Link Trail, New Hampshire
 

Built 1923-1924, Memorial Bridge crosses Cold Brook along “The Link” trail in Randolph. The bridge was dedicated as a memorial to Randolph's early pathmakers (19th-century trail builders) on August 23, 1924. These early pathmakers are responsible for cutting many of the trails in the Northern Presidential Range.

Trailside along the Lincoln Brook Trail are possibly the hoisting system of an old steam-powered crane or steam shovel near the end of the Camp 9 spur line of the East Branch & Lincoln Railroad (1893-1948) in the Pemigewasset Wilderness of the New Hampshire White Mountains.
Steam Powered Crane – Lincoln Brook Trail, New Hampshire
 

Just off the Lincoln Brook Trail at the Franconia Brook crossing in the Pemigewasset Wilderness is an interesting artifact from the East Branch & Lincoln Railroad era (1893-1948). A spur line of the railroad crossed Franconia Brook at today's Lincoln Brook Trail crossing, and it ended just beyond the brook. This artifact is possibly the hoisting system of an old steam-powered crane or steam shovel; steam-powered cranes were used to load logs on to railroad log trucks.

Site of Merrill’s Mountain House in Warren, New Hampshire during the summer months. In 1834 Nathaniel Merrill built a farmhouse at this site, and in 1860 the Merrill family converted the farmhouse to an inn known as Merrill’s Mountain Home or Merrill’s Mountain House. The inn burned down in 1915.
Merrill's Mountain House Site – Mousilauke Carriage Road, New Hampshire
 

In the area known as Breezy Point in Warren, along the Mousilauke Carriage Road, is the abandoned site of Merrill’s Mountain House. In 1834 Nathaniel Merrill built a farmhouse at this site, and in 1860 the Merrill family converted the farmhouse to an inn known as Merrill’s Mountain Home (or House). The inn burned down in 1915. Breezy Point was also the site of two 19th-century resort hotels, the Breezy Point House and the Moosilauke Inn.

The Fabyan Guard Station during the autumn months. It was built in 1923 by Clifford Graham along the old Jefferson Turnpike (now Old Cherry Mountain Road) in the Carroll, New Hampshire.
Fabyan Guard Station – Old Cherry Mountain Road, New Hampshire
 

Along old Cherry Mountain Road (old Jefferson Turnpike), which the Cohos Trail utilizes, is the picturesque Fabyan Guard Station. Built in 1923 by Clifford L. Graham (Graham would eventually become Supervisor of the White Mountain National Forest), and restored in 2014, it is the last remaining guard station in the White Mountain National Forest. Spruce logs from the surrounding area were used to build the cabin. And it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in May 2018.

Cascade Brook in Lincoln, New Hampshire on a spring day. This brook is located along the Basin-Cascades Trail. An 1800s stereoview photograph published by E. & H. T. Anthony & Company refers to this cascade as Walton's Cascade.
Walton's Cascade – Basin-Cascades Trail, New Hampshire
 

The Basin-Cascades Trail travels in the area of Cascade Brook. This brook has numerous cascades on it, but the one above is of interest. Dating back to the 1800s, photographers have referred to this cascade by different names; Walton’s Cascade: E. & H. T. Anthony & Company, Moss Cascades: John P Soule, Walker’s Cascade: Clough & Kimball, and we know it as Cascade Brook Falls today. This trailside waterfall is a great example of how 19th-century writers and photographers unofficially named landmarks in the White Mountains.

Looking down on Gray Knob Cabin from an overlook along Lowe's Path in the Northern Presidential Range in the White Mountain National Forest of New Hampshire.
Gray Knob Cabin – Lowe's Path, New Hampshire
 

Along Lowe’s Path in the Presidential Range is an overlook where hikers can look down on the Gray Knob Cabin site. Originally built as a private cabin by Dr. E.Y. Hincks family in 1905, it was renovated a number of times, and in 1989 it was torn down, and a new cabin was built.

Robertson bridge, which crosses the Saco River, along the Webster Cliff Trail (Appalachian Trail) in the New Hampshire White Mountains. This bridge, built in 2008, is dedicated to the memory of Albert Robertson and his wife, Priscilla. Both volunteered their time to the AMC Four Thousand Footer Club, and Albert was one of the founding members.
Saco River – Webster Cliff Trail, New Hampshire
 

The Robertson bridge crosses the Saco River along the Webster Cliff Trail (Appalachian Trail) in Hart’s Location. This bridge, built in 2008, is dedicated to the memory of Albert Robertson and his wife, Priscilla. Both volunteered their time to the AMC Four Thousand Footer Club, and Albert was one of the founding members.

To license any of the trailside photos in this blog article for publications, click on the photo. And you can view photos and read more about the history of the White Mountains 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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4 Responses to “Trailside History, White Mountains”

  1. Slow Gin Lizz

    This is so interesting! I actually do often see these kinds of random old things when hiking and always wonder how they got there, so thank you for this post and these explanations. Next time I see something in the Whites that I want to know about, I'll know who to ask! (But that'll be awhile, given that I'm in MA and not traveling to NH right now for obviously reasons.)

    Reply
  2. Steve Alden

    Nice article Erin.  Your photos and wealth of knowledge are exceptional.  I know I've mentioned it before, but you might really want to consider speaking around the state, presumably through the NH Humanities programs (when the pandemic is over).  They're paid (although not a lot) and it might be a good way of selling more photography as well.  I know our historical society would welcome a speaker like you.  Fortunately even with social distancing, we can still get out into the Whites!  Thanks for your work.

    Steve

    Reply
    • Erin Paul Donovan

      Hi Steve,

      Thank you for your kind words. I am glad you still enjoy my work after all this time (you have been following my work for a while now). I know you have mentioned speaking before, and one of these days you may get me to do it. 🙂

      Stay safe.

      Reply

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