December History, White Mountains

December history, Flume Covered Bridge in Franconia Notch State Park in Lincoln, New Hampshire during the night.
Flume Covered Bridge at Night – Lincoln, New Hampshire

December History, White Mountains – Here in the White Mountains, December is an exciting month. The ski mountains open for business, hikers are preparing for the official kickoff of the winter hiking season, and snowmobiles are being tuned up. If you enjoy the outdoors, winter is a great time to explore the region.

When it comes to White Mountains history, a handful of events happened in December. J.E. Henry’s mill burns down, a section house was razed, turnpikes were incorporated, and the Underhills became the first people to complete the White Mountain Four 4000 footers during the winter. Included here are a few interesting events.

December history, J.E Henry's first mill in Lincoln, New Hampshire. Courtesy of the Upper Pemigewasset Historical Society.
J.E. Henry's First Mill at Lincoln – Courtesy of the Upper Pemigewasset Historical Society

Built in 1893-1894, J.E. Henry's first sawmill in Lincoln was one of the largest in New England. Identified by the five smokestacks, it operated from 1894 until it was destroyed by fire on Christmas Eve in 1898. Henry rebuilt the sawmill in 1899, and mill operations continued. Remnants of Henry’s logging empire can still be found throughout Lincoln.

November history, Route 302 in Crawford Notch State Park of the White Mountains, New Hampshire USA during the spring months.
Route 302 – Crawford Notch, New Hampshire

The Tenth New Hampshire Turnpike was incorporated in December 1803. It began in the area of the Bartlett / Hart’s Location town line and ran for 20 miles west through Crawford Notch, ending in the area of Fabyans in Bretton Woods. The road would later be known as the Old Portland Road. Today’s Route 302 follows the general route of this old turnpike.

December history, reflection of Mount Deception in a small pond along Old Cherry Mountain Road in Carroll, New Hampshire USA during the spring months.
Old Cherry Mountain Road – Carroll, New Hampshire

The Jefferson Turnpike was incorporated by the state of New Hampshire in December 1804 and started being used in 1811. This toll road traveled from the 10th New Hampshire Turnpike (today’s Route 302) to Jefferson and Lancaster. Today, this route is known as Cherry Mountain Road, a seasonal road with roadside dispersed campsites.

Looking across the Great Gulf Wilderness at Mount Jefferson from Mount Washington in the White Mountains, New Hampshire on a cloudy day. Named after Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, Mount Jefferson is the third highest peak in New Hampshire.
Mount Jefferson – White Mountains, New Hampshire

On December 23, 1960, Miriam and Robert Underhill became the first people to complete the White Mountain Four 4000 footers during the winter (final peak was Mount Jefferson). The official White Mountain 4000 footers hiking list, published in Appalachia in June 1958, originally consisted of 46 mountains. Galehead Mountain was added in 1975, and Bondcliff was added in 1980. When this hiking list was created, Franconia Ridge and the Presidential Range were seeing heavy use, and the intent of it was to disperse hikers across the White Mountains. This list may have helped with the overuse then, but because of the surge in peakbagging in the 21st-century, the original vision of this list isn’t working.

The site of the Mt. Willard Section House along the old Maine Central Railroad, next to the Willey Brook Trestle, in Crawford Notch State Park of New Hampshire. This section house, built in 1887, housed the section foreman and crew who maintained Section 139 of the railroad. From 1903-1942, the Hattie Evans family lived in the house. It was destroyed by fire in 1972.
Mt. Willard Section House – Maine Central Railroad, New Hampshire

The Mt. Willard Section House in Crawford Notch was built in 1887 to house the section foreman James E. Mitchell, his family, and crew who maintained Section 139 of the railroad. In 1903 Loring Evans took over as foreman, and with his wife, Hattie, moved into the Section House. Loring was killed ten years later in a railroading accident at Crawford's yard. However, Hattie remained living in the house until 1942. Unfortunately, because of endless vandalism, the Maine Central Railroad burned the legendary Mt. Willard Section House to the ground on December 13, 1972.

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

Happy image making..


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

Donovan, Erin Paul. “Tenth New Hampshire Turnpike.” ScenicNH Photography LLC,

Donovan, Erin Paul. “Scenic Backroads, White Mountains.” ScenicNH Photography LLC, 01 Sept 2016,

Donovan, Erin Paul. “New Hampshire 4000 Footers.” ScenicNH Photography LLC,

Donovan, Erin Paul. “Mt Willard Section House, Crawford Notch.” ScenicNH Photography LLC, 15 Dec 2011,

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