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.
Memorial Bridge, The Link – Randolph, New Hampshire
Memorial Bridge, Randolph – Built 1923-1924, Memorial Bridge crosses Cold Brook along “The Link” trail in Randolph, New Hampshire. 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.
Louis F. Cutter and Eldredge H. Blood designed and built the bridge. Work began on it in the fall of 1923 and was completed in time for the August 1924 dedication. The span of the bridge is about 26 feet, and it's built of concrete, logs, stone, and supported by a copper-clad log that is said to be over 5 feet in circumference. And the entrances were intentionally kept narrow to prevent horses and cattle from using it.
Presidential Range – White Mountains, New Hampshire
Presidential Range, Random History – The Presidential Range in the New Hampshire White Mountains is known worldwide for having some of the worst weather in the world. And the main attraction of the range is the mighty Mount Washington. At 6,288 feet, Mount Washington is the highest peak in the Northeastern United States. And with the famed Appalachian Trail traveling through this scenic mountain range, it is a busy area.
The first recorded ascent, Darby Field in 1642, and fatality, Frederick Strickland in 1849, on Mount Washington has been well-publicized and is known among outdoor enthusiasts who play in the White Mountains. And because of the significance of these events, some of the history surrounding the Presidential Range is overlooked. So included here are a few tidbits of history about this fascinating mountain range.
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.
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.
Crawford Path Sign – White Mountains, New Hampshire
Crawford Path, White Mountains – Crawford Path, located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, is the oldest continuously-used mountain trail in America. And for a period of time, it was used as a horse trail to Mt Washington. This eight and half mile historic path came to be in 1819 when Abel Crawford and his son, Ethan Allen, began building a trail to the summit of Mt Pierce, formerly Mt Clinton. Once north of Mt Pierce, the Crawford Path follows the famed Appalachian Trail corridor to the summit of Mt Washington.
The entire eight and a half miles of Crawford Path is a photographer's delight. Landscape photographers will love the bold mountain scenes, while macro photographers will enjoy the variety of alpine flowers along the trail. If a photographer plans accordingly, he or she can spend a full day shooting along this historic path.