Ripley Falls – Crawford Notch, New Hampshire
Ripley Falls, Crawford Notch – Located on Avalanche Brook in Crawford Notch, New Hampshire, the 100 foot Ripley Falls is one of the more picturesque waterfalls in the White Mountains. The Arethusa-Ripley Falls Trail passes by this waterfall. And while the waterfall is impressive, the history of Ripley Falls and Avalanche Brook is intriguing.
There seems to be some confusion on who first discovered Ripley Falls. Most accounts say Henry W. Ripley and a Mr. Porter first discovered the waterfall in September 1858. But other accounts say a fisherman found the waterfall before Ripley. And another account says Henry W. Ripley was a companion of the legendary Abel Crawford (1766–1851), who discovered the waterfall while out trapping sable.
Camel Trail – Mount Washington, New Hampshire
Random Trail History, White Mountains – Think about these White Mountains history facts for a moment. Crawford Path is the oldest continuously-used mountain trail in America. Trail maker Charles E. Lowe and Dr. William G. Nowell built Lowe’s Path in 1875-1876. Nathaniel Davis, son-in-law of Abel and Hannah Crawford, built Davis Path in 1845. Nathaniel L. Goodrich (1880-1957) is considered to be the founder of peakbagging in the White Mountains.
In this era of outdoor recreation (camping, fishing, hiking, etc.) the ones who explored the New Hampshire White Mountains before us are being forgotten about. So today’s blog article focuses on random tidbits of history surrounding the White Mountains trail system.
Russell-Colbath Homestead – Passaconaway, New Hampshire
Russell-Colbath House, Passaconaway – The Russell-Colbath House is a 19th-century historic house along the Kancamagus Highway in an area known as Passaconaway in Albany, New Hampshire. Albany was first chartered in 1766 under the name Burton and then renamed Albany in 1833. This old house holds the fascinating story of Ruth Priscilla Russell: the grand old lady of Passaconaway.
In the early 1800s, Austin George moved his family to Passaconaway. But tough times would force the George family to abandon the homestead and move to Bartlett in 1815. Their homestead was located just to the east of where the Russell-Colbath House now stands. What became of the George's dwellings is not completely clear. Because of its close proximity to the Russell dwelling and the George family connection, the Russell house is also referred to as the George House.
Darby Field, First Ascent – Mount Washington, New Hampshire
Random History, White Mountains – My work as a photographer has allowed me to explore and document many historical sites in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. And it really has changed the way I view the White Mountains. It amazes me that Darby Field made the first ascent of Mount Washington in 1642. And farming settlements and grand resorts were scattered throughout the region in the 1800s.
With outdoor recreation at an all-time high in the White Mountains, it is important to create awareness for the region's history. The more history we outdoor enthusiasts know about an area, the more attached we become to the area. And because of this connection, it inspires us to get involved with conservation. And yes, there will always be some that feel the history is insignificant, but that is for another day. Today’s blog article consists of a few random tidbits of history.
South-facing View, Trestle 17 – Courtesy of the Upper Pemigewasset Historical Society
East Branch & Lincoln Railroad, Trestle 17 – Built in the early 1900s, probably 1906-1908 (one source states 1908) trestle 17 was located along the Upper East Branch of the East Branch & Lincoln Railroad in New Hampshire. It spanned the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River near the site of logging Camp 17. Camp 17 was on the south side of the trestle. This trestle is within today’s 45,000-acre Pemigewasset Wilderness.
A log landing and a short siding for the landing were located on the north side of the river in the area where a hiking trail formerly accessed the 180 foot suspension bridge. The above undated photograph shows loaded log cars on the trestle with the log landing in the foreground. And the cutover slopes of a spur of Mount Hancock can be seen in the background.
c. 1906 Crawford House – Courtesy Library of Congress, LC-DIG-det-4a13669
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.
1900s EB&L Narrow Gauge Railroad – Courtesy of the Upper Pemigewasset Historical Society
EB&L Railroad, Narrow Gauge Line – In operation from 1893-1948, the East Branch & Lincoln (EB&L) was a standard gauge railroad. But in 1901 J.E. Henry and Sons attempted to use a narrow gauge railroad to harvest timber from the Whaleback Mountain (Mt Osseo) area. With the exception of a May 1902 article by Albert W. Cooper and T.S. Woolsey, Jr. in Forestry & Irrigation little is known about this short-lived railroad. There are only a few photos (above) of the railroad, and over the years the actual location has been in question.
The difference between standard gauge and narrow gauge railroads is the spacing between the rails. The spacing on standard gauge railroads is 4 feet 8 1⁄2 inches, while the spacing on narrow gauge railroads is 3 feet 6 inches (this can range some). Narrow gauge railroads usually cost less to build and operate, but the major drawback is they can't handle heavy loads. The logging railroads in the White Mountains preferred the heavy standard gauge lines for hauling timber.