February History, White Mountains

White Mountains, February history; a winter hiker ascending the Air Line Trail in extreme weather conditions in the White Mountains, New Hampshire
Air Line Trail – White Mountains, New Hampshire

February History, White Mountains – The history of the New Hampshire White Mountains can be looked at from many different perspectives. One of the more interesting ways to look at it is from a monthly viewpoint.

From a historical point of view, February is a deadly month in the White Mountains. Throughout the years, avalanches, climbing falls, hypothermia, and skiing accidents have taken a number of lives during this month. Most of these incidents have been well documented, so below are a few not so well known events that happened during the month of February.

White Mountains, February history, scenic view from along the Appalachian Trail (Ethan Pond Trail) in the New Hampshire White Mountains.
Ethan Pond Trail – Zealand Notch, New Hampshire

On February 18, 1886, the Zealand Valley Railroad opened. It traveled from the now gone village of Zealand (located along today’s Route 302 in Carrol) to Zealand Notch and beyond. Originally incorporated as the New Zealand River Railroad on July 18, 1878, this railroad, including sidings and spur lines, was 13-15 miles long, more or less. Today, the scenic Zealand Trail and Ethan Pond Trail utilize the old railroad bed.

The East Branch of the Pemigewasset River in the Pemigewasset Wilderness of Lincoln, New Hampshire.
East Branch of the Pemigewasset River – Pemigewasset Wilderness, New Hampshire

Livermore was incorporated by the state of New Hampshire in July 1876. It was made up of the Elkins’s Grant, Sargent & Elkins’s Grant, Hatch & Cleaves’s Grant, Two Raymonds’ Grant, and Bean & Gilman’s Purchase. On February 20, 1901, the New Hampshire legislature approved the annexation of part of Livermore to Lincoln (annexation was completed in 1909). The part of Livermore that was annexed to Lincoln is the area that is drained by the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River and its tributaries as it enters Lincoln, north of the Woodstock town line.

Elbow Pond Road at the Jackman Brook crossing in North Woodstock, New Hampshire.
Elbow Pond Road – North Woodstock, New Hampshire

The Gordon Pond Railroad was dissolved on February 27, 1917. Owned by the Johnson Lumber Company (George Johnson), this was a logging railroad in the towns of Lincoln and Woodstock. In operation from 1907-1916 and roughly 15 miles long, branches of this railroad traveled into the Elbow Pond area and into the Gordon Pond Brook drainage.

Artifact at logging Camp 23 along the abandoned East Branch & Lincoln Railroad (1893-1948) in the Pemigewasset Wilderness of Lincoln, New Hampshire.
Logging Camp 23 – East Branch & Lincoln Railroad

In February 1923, the Lynn, Massachusetts, chamber of commerce held its first annual winter outing at the Lincoln Hotel. During their stay in Lincoln, an excursion train took them into Lincoln Woods to logging Camp 23 where they were served hot coffee, doughnuts, and desserts. Located on the North Fork Branch of the East Branch & Lincoln Railroad, remnants of this camp remain today.

Memorial for Dr. Ralph E. Miller and Dr. Robert E. Quinn in the Thoreau Falls valley of the Pemigewasset Wilderness in Lincoln, New Hampshire.
Dr. Ralph E. Miller and Dr. Robert E. Quinn Memorial – Pemigewasset Wilderness

On Saturday, February 21, 1959, a Piper Comanche airplane took off from the Berlin, New Hampshire Airport destined for Lebanon, New Hampshire Airport. The pilot was Dr. Ralph E. Miller, and his passenger was Dr. Robert E. Quinn. Both were doctors affiliated with Dartmouth Medical School. Unfortunately, they ended up crashing in a remote area of the Pemigewasset Wilderness on the abandoned North Fork Branch (at the time, a section of the Thoreau Falls Trail) of the East Branch & Lincoln Railroad. The doctors successfully crash-landed and survived for four days before dying of exposure.

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Happy image making..


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Donovan, Erin Paul. “East Branch of the Pemigewasset River.” ScenicNH Photography LLC, 20 Nov 2011, https://www.scenicnh.com/blog/2011/11/east-branch-of-the-pemigewasset-river/.

Donovan, Erin Paul. “Gordon Pond Railroad, New Hampshire.” ScenicNH Photography LLC, 15 Feb 2016, https://www.scenicnh.com/blog/2016/02/gordon-pond-railroad/.

Donovan, Erin Paul. East Branch & Lincoln Railroad. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2018.

Donovan, Erin Paul. “February 1959 Plane Crash, Pemi Wilderness.” ScenicNH Photography LLC, 21 Feb 2015, https://www.scenicnh.com/blog/2015/02/february-1959-plane-crash-pemi-wilderness/.

Donovan, Erin Paul. “Forgotten Lincoln”.” ScenicNH Photography. 25, Feb 2018, https://www.scenicnh.com/blog/2018/02/forgotten-lincoln-new-hampshire/.

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