Posts Tagged: pemigewasset wilderness



Random History, White Mountains

Mount Monroe with Mount Washington in the background from the Appalachian Trail (Crawford Path) in Sargent's Purchase, New Hampshire during the last days of summer.
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.

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The 2017 Autumn Foliage Season

Autumn foliage on Little Coolidge Mountain in Lincoln, New Hampshire on an autumn morning. This mountainside was logged during the East Branch & Lincoln Railroad era.
Little Coolidge Mountain – Lincoln, New Hampshire
 

The 2017 Autumn Foliage Season – What a strange autumn foliage season we have had here in the New Hampshire White Mountains! The foliage was hit or miss in most areas. And even though we are past peak, there are still some nice pockets of colorful foliage. As for the weather, the temperatures have been above average for the month of October. Boy, I hope we get snow this winter season.

I usually spend two weeks a year photographing autumn foliage. But because of tight deadlines, I didn’t focus much on the foliage this year. It has been an extremely busy year, and today I am going to share a few scenes from my travels around the White Mountains. Almost all of my field time over the last few months has been spent in the Pemigewasset Wilderness verifying work for a book project that is due out in the summer of 2018.

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1907 Owl’s Head Mountain Fire

Storm (rain) clouds engulf Owls Head Mountain from the summit of Bondlcliff Mountain in the Pemigewasset Wilderness of New Hampshire during the summer months. Hellgate Ravine is in the foreground.
Storm Clouds over Owl's Mountain Head from Bondcliff, New Hampshire
 

Owl's Head Mountain Fire August 17, 1907 – During the late 1800s and early 1900s, logging activities from railroad logging contributed to a number of forest fires in the New Hampshire White Mountains. Sparks from locomotives were responsible for starting fires along the railroads. And the logging slash (unwanted part of the tree left behind after an area is logged) left on the mountainsides fueled the forest fires.

The infamous August 1907 Owl’s Head Mountain fire in the Pemigewasset Wilderness was started by a lightning strike on the eastern side of Owl’s Head Mountain in an area that had been previously logged by J.E. Henry and Sons. The included color photographs show the general area of where the forest fire took place.

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Definition of Wilderness, White Mountains

Definition of Wilderness, Owls Head from the Franconia Ridge Trail (Appalachian Trail), near Little Haystack Mountain, in the White Mountains of New Hampshire during the last days of summer.
Owls Head – Pemigewasset Wilderness, New Hampshire
 

Definition of Wilderness, White Mountains – I am currently working on a project that has brought me back into the Pemigewasset Wilderness. This wilderness is governed under the National Wilderness Preservation System and the Wilderness Act of 1964. And because it is designated wilderness, it has the highest level of protection for federal lands. The recreational opportunities, historical value, and educational platform the Pemigewasset Wilderness offers will educate outdoor enthusiasts for many years to come. It is important that visitors to the region know that the six designated wilderness areas in the White Mountain National Forest are managed differently than the rest of the National Forest. This is where the Wilderness Act comes into play.

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Pemigewasset Wilderness, Conservation Success

A hiker takes in the view of the Pemigewasset Wilderness from the summit of Zeacliff during the summer months. This viewpoint offers an excellent view of the wilderness area.
Pemigewasset Wilderness from Zeacliff, New Hampshire
 

Pemigewasset Wilderness, Conservation Success – The 45,000-acre Pemigewasset Wilderness is the result of one the greatest conservation laws ever passed; The Wilderness Act. Unlike in today’s world where everyone wants to gut the Wilderness Act for selfish reasons, the creators of the Wilderness Act were truly concerned about the well being of our wild places. The Wilderness Act has protected over 109 million acres across the United States.

Some of you may recognize the above image from Zeacliff Mountain because a similar image is on the cover of the 29th edition of the AMC White Mountain Guide. I look at this image from time to time and think about the solitude I have found in the Pemigewasset Wilderness over the years. I also try to imagine how the Pemigewasset Wilderness would look if it was a 45,000-acre condo development.

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A Wilderness Bridge vs. an Alpine Zone Hotel

Mount Washington from the Appalachian Trail in the White Mountains, New Hampshire.
Mount Washington Cog Railway – General Area of the Skyline Switch
 

A Wilderness Bridge vs. an Alpine Zone Hotel – Talk throughout the White Mountains and New England has been about a proposal made by the Cog Railway to “possibly” build a hotel and restaurant on the side of Mount Washington. The proposal itself has created disbelief among many. And I have to admit that I am still shocked that a group would even consider damaging the fragile alpine environment to expand a business venture.

But the reality is this scenario has been playing out throughout the White Mountains in different ways. There are many examples, but the best one is the proposed removal of the footbridge along the Thoreau Falls Trail in the Pemigewasset Wilderness. The Thoreau Falls Trail bridge has become a safety concern, and Forest Service has proposed to remove it. Much like the proposed hotel it has become a heated issue.

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Preserve History, Don’t Remove Artifacts

An abandoned cellar hole along an old road off Tunnel Brook Road in Benton, New Hampshire. This area was once known as Coventry-Benton, and based on an 1860 historical map of Grafton County this was the Charles B. Keyser homestead.
Heritage Sign – Benton, New Hampshire
 

Preserve History, Don't Remove Artifacts – Here in New Hampshire, outdoor recreation is growing at an alarming rate. And there has been a surge of people exploring historical sites in the White Mountains. As a conservation photographer, I am obligated to create awareness for the laws that protect our American heritage. For historic preservation to be successful, it is imperative that we promote the protection of historic sites.

As you explore the abandoned cellar holes, farming communities, logging camps and other historic sites in the White Mountain National Forest, please keep in mind that the removal of historical or archaeological artifacts from federal lands without a permit is a violation of federal law. The destruction of artifacts and historic sites is also a crime. And please remember you can’t dig at historical sites. So metal detecting anywhere in the White Mountain National Forest where there could be artifacts is risky business. See the links at the end of this article for the laws that protect these special places.

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