May History, White Mountains

May history, East Branch of the Pemigewasset River in Lincoln, New Hampshire USA during the spring months.
East Branch of the Pemigewasset River – White Mountains, New Hampshire

May History, White Mountains – Throughout the years, a number of historical events in the White Mountains happened in May. One event that took place over one hundred years ago still benefits us today, and New Hampshire lost an icon during this month in 2003. Included here are a few interesting May events.

The most significant event took place on May 16, 1918. On this day, President Woodrow Wilson signed Executive Order 1449 creating the White Mountain National Forest in Maine and New Hampshire. Consisting of nearly 800,000 acres, the White Mountain National Forest attracts millions of visitors every year.

Crawford Notch from Mount Willard in the White Mountains, New Hampshire.
Crawford Notch from Mount Willard – Hart's Location, New Hampshire

In 1771, Timothy Nash and Benjamin Sawyer brought a horse through the wild (at the time) Crawford Notch proving to Governor John Wentworth the route’s commercial value. And on May 20, 1773, Governor Wentworth rewarded the two men with a 2,184 acre parcel just north of the Gate of the Notch – Nash & Sawyer's Location. While Nash and Sawyer are credited for discovering the pass through Crawford Notch, it was known to the Indians.

Mount Washington from Davis Path in Sargent's Purchase in the New Hampshire White Mountains on a cloudy summer day;
Mount Washington – Sargent's Purchase, New Hampshire

Consisting of 33,000 acres, Land Commissioner James Willey granted Bean’s Purchase to Alpheus Bean of Bartlett on May 22, 1832. Then on May 31 of the same year, Willey granted Sargent’s Purchase, consisting of 25,000 acres, to Jacob Sargent of Thornton and others.

Aftermath of the May 13, 1907 fire in Lincoln, New Hampshire. The fire destroyed a number of buildings on both sides of Main Street in Lincoln village.
After May 1907 Fire, Lincoln Village – Courtesy of the Upper Pemigewasset Historical Society

On May 13, 1907, a devastating fire destroyed a number of dwellings along Main Street in Lincoln. Buildings on both sides of Main Street burned to the ground. Then on May 7, 1950, Hotel Franconia, built in 1929, burned down. It was located in the area of Woodwards's Inn and Whale's Tale Waterpark in North Lincoln.

Willey Brook Trestle along the old Maine Central Railroad in Hart's Location, New Hampshire during. This trestle is within Crawford Notch State Park.
Willey Brook Trestle – Crawford Notch, New Hampshire

When the United States entered into World War 1 in April 1917, there was great concern that important sites along transportation routes, such as railroad bridges, would be blown up. And in May, one month after the United States entered into the war, Private L. Dudley Leavitt and seven other National Guardsmen of the First Vermont Infantry were assigned six weeks guard duty of the Willey Brook Trestle (along the old Maine Central Railroad in Crawford Notch).

Artifacts from the Beebe River Railroad in Sandwich, New Hampshire.
Artifacts – Beebe River Railroad, New Hampshire

In 1924, the Draper Corporation purchased the Beebe River land tract, the Beebe mill and company buildings, and the Beebe River Railroad. Under the agreement, the Woodstock Lumber Company would harvest the remaining spruce and operate the mill until May 1925. Once the property was transferred over to Draper Corporation, they converted the mill over to a bobbin mill. However, they did not use the railroad for logging purposes until 1934. By 1942 the railroad track was removed and donated to the war effort (World War 2).

Silhouette of the Old Man of the Mountain profile. Discovered in 1805 the Old Man profile was the main attraction of Franconia Notch until it collapsed on May 3, 2003. This profile was on the side of Cannon Mountain in Franconia Notch, New Hampshire.
Old Man of the Mountain – Franconia Notch, New Hampshire

On May 3, 2003, New Hampshire's Old Man of the Mountain, also known as "The Great Stone Face" and "The Profile" collapsed. Discovered and first recorded in 1805 by a survey party, the Old Man of the Mountain profile was a natural rock feature on the side of Cannon Mountain in Franconia Notch; it was the main attraction of Franconia Notch for 198 years.

To license any of the photos in this blog article for publications, click on the photo. Read more about the White Mountains here.

Happy image making..


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Donovan, Erin Paul. “Willey Brook Trestle, World War 1 Guard Duty.” ScenicNH Photography LLC, 05 Sept 2012,

Donovan, Erin Paul. “Beebe River Railroad, New Hampshire.” ScenicNH Photography LLC, 19 Apr 2018,

Donovan, Erin Paul. “Old Man of the Mountain, Franconia Notch.” ScenicNH Photography LLC, 03 May 2013,

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