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I UNITED STATES OF AMElflCA f



VIEWS



WHITE MOUNTAINS



WITH DESCRIPTIONS



BY



M. F. SWEETSER.

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K J^o ILUJU



PORTLAND :
CHISHOLM BROTHERS.

1879.



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1S79,

By HUGH J. CHISHOLM,
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.



Franklin Press:

Electrotyped and Printed ly

Rand, ATcry, &" CV.,

Boiton.



PREFACE.




fHE object of this volume is to afford to visitors among the
White Mountains a souvenir of their grand scenery, as well as
to enable those who have not yet seen them to obtain an idea of
their exceeding majesty and beauty. In the snug houses on the
slopes of Beacon Hill and Murray Hill, when the blasts of win-
ter are sweeping the darkened streets, and the family gathers 'around the
evening fireside, these views may serve to bring back the memories of past
days of summer gladness, and renew a thousand fading impressions of beauty
and delight.

In one respect at least, and that an important one, the pictures herein
contained are superior to any other collection of illustrations of the White
Mountains. They are in no way idealized or exaggerated, as is customary in
such works, but present faithful transcripts of the actual scenes as painted by
the sun. They were printed by the heliotype process from photographs taken
from the objects themselves, and hence are as nearly accurate as it is possible
to have them. The impressions were made with printers' ink, and are as per-
manent as the letter-press ; so that the fidelity of a photograph is secured, with-
out its perishability.

It is also hoped that the descriptions appended to the pictures may be of
some value, as showing the localities of the various scenes, and their relations
to other points among the highlands. If ability and enthusiasm always went
together with equal step and parallel course (which they do not), these notes
would be not altogether unworthy of the objects that they commemorate, since
the writer has been for years an ardent lover of the mountains, and has explored
their highest and remotest peaks, and their deepest and most terrible ravines.




CONTENTS.

■^ The White Mountains, — an Introductory Sketch.

The Franconia Notch, Echo Lake, and the Profile House, "^

The Profile, or Old Man of the Mountain.
^ The Profile House.

Echo Lake, Franconia Notch.

The Flume.

View in Bethlehem.

The Maplewood Hotel, y

The Fabyan House.

The Old Willey House. .

Jacob's Ladder, Mount-Washington Railway.

Lizzie Bourne's Monument. •

The Frankenstein Trestle.




THE WHITE MOUNTAINS.




^NTHONY TROLLOPE, the charming English novelist and
delineator of life in the old cathedral-towns, once frankly con-
fessed that he had a vague idea that the White Mountains were
a sort of link between the Rocky Mountains and the Allegha-
nies, inhabited by Mormons, Indians, or black bears ; and then
goes on to say, "That there was a district in New England
containing mountain-scenery superior to much that is yearly crowded by tour-
ists in Europe, that this is to be reached with ease by railways and stage-
coaches, and that it is dotted with huge hotels almost as thickly as they lie
in Switzerland, I had no idea."

This region, which already enjoys a transatlantic fame, covers an area of
over twelve hundred square miles, bounded in a large way by the lake-country
of New Hampshire on the south, and the Connecticut Valley on the west and
north. The eastern limits are less easily determined, since the mountain sys-
tem of Maine is interlocked with the northern White Mountains, and stretches
away to the north-east for over a hundred miles. The Edinburgh encyclo-
pedist, indeed, calls Mount Katahdin the eastern outpost of the range ; but the
peaks in Maine are in semi-detached groups, separated by wide valleys, and so
remote in the wilderness that they are seldom visited by tourists. The White
Mountains, as regarded by unscientific persons (and map-makers as well), stop
at the border of Maine.

Although actually nearer the equator than Mont Blanc is, and on the
same parallel as Bordeaux, Bologna, Genoa, and Belgrade, the climate of this
region is much more severe than that of Switzerland at the same altitudes,
and the alpine region is encountered at lower levels. If the summit of Mount
Washington were two thousand feet higher, it would be covered with perpetual
snow, even in the face of the summer sun of America. As it is, the snow-
banks remain about the head of Tuckerman's Ravine throughout June and



The White Mountains.

July, hundreds of feet long;, and in their lower parts hardened into glacial ice.
The sudden changes of temperature thus induced between points but a few
miles apart give rise to astonishing varieties in the fauna and flora of the
region, which have deeply interested the botanists and entomologists of adja-
cent States, and called forth their careful study. The sumptuous volumes
recently published by the State of New Hampshire, under the direction of Pro-
fessor Hitchcock, contain minute descriptions of the plants and insects found
upon the highlands, with the fullest details of the geology and climatology
thereof. The flora is that of the Canadian division, as distinguished from the
Alleghanian division, which stops at Lake Winnepesaukee and North Conway ;
and its chief members are the pines and cedars, darkening the mountain-
slopes ; the maples, birches, and oaks, enriching the autumnal landscape with
most glorious color; and the elms, which so adorn the meadows of Conway
and Lancaster. Ferns and flowers of great variety ornament the glens, and
infinite quantities of delicious berries are found on the ridges. There are fifty
species of alpine plants, which are found nowhere in New England save on
these highlands: and a careful writer on the subject has said, "The wind-
swept summits of our White Mountains are to the botanist the most interesting
locality east of the Mississippi ; for there are found the lingering remnants of
a flora once common, probably, to all New England, but which, since the close
of the glacial epoch, has, with few exceptions, retreated to Arctic America."

The geological history of the district is very interesting, and has been
recorded by some of the foremost scientific men in America and England.
Floods of molten rock have poured over the country, level as a lake, hotter
than Phlegethon, and hardening into vast areas of granite. Centuries, or it
may have been hundreds of centuries, later, the ocean swept its blue tides
around the bases and far up into the passes of the mountains, leaving there its
sedimentary rocks and marine fossils to bear testimony to the great invasion.
The White Mountains were a group of islands, on whose rocky shores the
ancient sea broke, carving the record of its victory as legibly as Trajan in-
scribed his triumphs on the Iron Gates of the Danube. Next came the glacial
age, when New Hampshire suffered the climate and possessed the appearance
of Greenland, buried under thousands of feet of ice, a huge pall of death,
enduring for centuries, and slowly moving toward the south with irresistible
force.

Out of all these convulsions Nature at last wrought her perfect work, and
prepared the land for the dwelling of man. He, in turn, began a career of
improving and changing the face of the hills, and governing their life. The



The White Moiuitains.

wolf and the mountain-lynx, once so common here, are now as extinct as the
dodo, or as the luckless Indians whose wigwams arose by the corn-fields on
the intervales. The echoes of the rangers' rifles have been taken up by the
roar of blasting-powder, opening pathways for commerce and travel through
the dark defiles ; and this, in turn, is replaced by the long screech of locomo-
tives storming up the slopes.

Every surveying-party which returns to Washington from the Far West
brings tidings of some new region of natural wonders, stupendous mountains,
dizzy gorges, thunderous waterfalls, until at last we have surpassed the Alps,
and emulate the Caucasus. Some one once called the White Mountains
" the Switzerland of America," and the foolish phrase has since been on
every lip. It is not quite clear why we should have a "Switzerland of
America" (at least until the Revue des Deux Mondes finds a "Yo-Semite
of Europe ") ; but, if the phrase must be used, it belongs to the Sierra Nevada,
or the Snowy Range of Colorado.

The chief mountain-resort of America, however, will remain in New
Hampshire for many decades, whatever superior attractions the Western
lands may develop, because the largest cities of the continent are within a
day's ride, and hundreds of populous towns are almost within sight. Several
first-class railroads reach the edge of the district, and one of them penetrates
it from side to side, affording the best opportunities for reaching the sweet
pastoral villages of the plains or the dark glens beyond. From these grand
routes stage-roads and turnpikes stretch away in other directions, and logging-
roads enter the deep woods. These, in turn, interlace with scores of paths cut
through the forests and upon the mountains by the hotel-keepers and villagers,
for the sole object of making easy the ways to scenes of grandeur and beauty.
The A.ppalachian Mountain Club has had several important paths constructed
of late years, devising their routes with great skill, and directing them upon
noble view-points. Within the region thus developed there are nine hotels
of the first class, accommodating from three hundred to five hundred guests
each ; a score or more of second-class houses ; and hundreds of boarding-
houses, varying in pretensions, from the well-supplied pensions of North Con-
way and Bethlehem to the old-fashioned farm-houses of the hill-people. The
villages just mentioned can accommodate more than twelve hundred guests
each at one time ; and the hamlets of Gorham, Campton, Lancaster, Fran-
conia, Conway, Jefferson Hill, and Jackson, have quarters for many hundreds
more. All tastes and purses may now be suited in the wide variety which
ranges from the palatial luxuries of the great hotels at five dollars a day



The White Mountains.

to the antique simplicity of the sequestered farm-houses at five dollars a week.
There is also every variety of scenery here, amid which the summer loiterer
may find the charms most congenial to his spirit, or combine their varying
beauties in a rich contrast of effects. Does he seek the sweet and reposeful
contiguity of emerald meadows, dotted with most exquisitely shaped trees,
and overlooked by distant blue peaks.? — then let him find out Fryeburg on
the east, nestling by the fair and fruitful intervales of the Saco ; or Lancaster
on the west, the queen of the upper Connecticut Valley. Must he have blue
waters of highland lakes to mirror the mountain-forms while he floats over
the liquid crystal in some dainty little boat, deriding Fahrenheit.? — let him
seek Centre Harbor, on many-islanded Winnepesaukee ; or the lonely inn
which looks down upon the reflection of the proud purple peak of Chocorua,
in the lake below ; or the beautiful tarns higher up in the hill-country, at
the bases of the main ranges. Does he crave the most poetic and fasci-
nating view of the great group of peaks, seen en faini/lc, and at such a dis-
tance, that all their ruggedness and savagery are replaced by soft veiling tints
and rare atmospheric effects.? — such grace he shall find at North Conway
and Bethlehem, Shelburne and Jefferson Hill, and, better than all others, at
Sugar Hill. Nor should he forget Bethel, the ancient hamlet by the Andros-
coggin ; and Campton, viewing the grand Sandwich peaks up the Mad-River
Valley, and Littleton, commanding such glorious vistas from her inwalling
hills. But the majority of travellers prefer to come into the immediate pres-
ence of tlie highest mountains, to face their frowning cliffs, be overshadowed
by their immense ridges, and hear the music of their white cascades. For
these there is Jackson, lifting its little church-spire in a wild and solitary
glen ; Waterville, hemmed in by lofty and noble peaks and solemn ridges ;
the Glen House, in face of the Presidential Range ; the Profile House,
surrounded by the rarest curiosities of nature ; and the Crawford and Fabyan
Houses, overlooked by the supreme summits of the highlands. In such a
delightful region, who can go amiss .?




FRANCONIA NOTCH, ECHO LAKE, AND PROFILE HOUSE.




THE FRANCONIA NOTCH, ECHO LAKE, AND
THE PROFILE HOUSE.

HEN Freclrika Bremer contrasted the Franconia region with
the Swedish districts of Dalecarlia and Norsland, she gave
great praise to these latter by the simple fact of the comparison.
The ruling charms of this delightful wilderness, according to
the gifted Scandinavian traveller, are not its rocks and moun-
tains, its chasms and ravines, but the affluence of foliage, and
the brightness of the mountain-waters. And from our artist's standpoint, on
the top of Bald Mountain, less than two miles distant from the Profile House,
these two excellent traits of the Franconia region arc visible as from no other
place. In comparison with the stupendous mass of Mount Lafayette, rising
far into the heavens, close at hand, the craggy knoll of Bald Mountain appears
almost insignificant ; and yet it rises very picturesquely above the blue lake
below, and looks far out over the Green Mountains of Vermont and the deli-
cious valleys which extend towards Lancaster. On the south is the fair bosom
of Echo Lake, that brightest gem of the mountains, whose waters are of the
most exquisite purity and clearness, and are furrowed throughout the summer
by a flotilla of pretty pleasure-boats. Although Starr King ranked this moun-
tain-tarn above even the Profile itself, as the chief attraction of Franconia, it is
evident that he could not have rowed out upon its waters, since he describes it
with much detail as emptying into the Pemigewasset ; thence to pass into the
Mcrrimac, and move the wheels of Nashua and Lowell. In point of fact, the
stream seeks the beach-levels through the Ammonoosuc and Connecticut Rivers.
Beyond the lake is an expanse of dense green forest, amid which the high
white sides of the Profile House rise like a palace of Aladdin, and, to the minds
of the initiated, radiating a certain warmth of human life and luxury throughout
the cold and silent wilderness. Beyond is the Franconia Notch, stretching
away under line after line of gray-topped ridges, and glorified at evening by the
level rays of the setting sun, which surge magnificently up the defile, while
the shadows of the western peaks rise higher and higher on the opposite walls.

More than any other pass in the White Mountains this has called forth
the loving praises of our authors, and the brilliant chapters of Mr. Prime still
form its best description. Even Harriet Martincau, who was so chary of
eulogy for all things, natural, human, or superhuman, found the word "noble"
the only one to apply here, and uttered it with a right good heart. Looking
over the bright expanse of Echo Lake, the pictured cliffs, the rich-hued forests,
we find a more appropriate adjective, and call the scene, in all its aspects and
suggestions, simply beautiful.




THE PROFILE.




THE PROFILE, FRANCONIA NOTCH.

HERE the road passes Profile Lake, near the Profile House, a
guide-board directs the attention upward, and one of the most
impressive sights of all this region of wonders bursts upon the
vision. There, on the side of the opposing mountain, more than
a thousand feet above the road, and vividly outlined against the
sky, is the semblance of a colossal human profile, with an
expression of intense weariness and melancholy, as if some heaven-defying
Prometheus of the West had been chained to the red rocks of Mount Cannon
until the hardness of his heart was reflected by the petrifaction of his head.
This is the great Profile, which for over seventy years has been gazed upon,
with varying emotions, by many myriads of travellers. For the slaves of the
guide-book, who feel it their solemn duty to "do" every thing therein spoken
of, any hour will suffice ; but the reverent pilgrim of Nature approaches this
point of view only at late afternoon, when the great face is vividly outlined
against the crimson glories of the western sky, and its pathetic and expectant
expression aptly combines with the sadness of declining day. For thousands
of years that grim simulacrum has faced the driving sleet of winter and the
quivering lightnings of summer wdth silent patience and monumental faith;
and has looked down upon the red Indians, countless as the leaves of the for-
est, as they poured down from the remote West upon the rolling plains of the
New-England wilderness before the dawn of American history. There are,
indeed, traditions that the aborigines used to offer a rude form of worship here
as to a symbol of Manitou himself, kindling their sacrificial fires on the shores
of the crystalline lake below. But these Druid rites could not avail to save
the doomed race; for during Queen Anne's W'ar the pale rangers of Massachu-
setts destroyed their last hamlet of wigwams on the banks of the Pemige-
wasset, and the crash of the Puritan volleys re-echoed from the rocky brow of
the mountain-visage. Then came the measured and resistless advance of the
Anglo-American race, following the same order of battle which has conquered
Caffraria, New Zealand, and America, — first the hunters and trappers, then
the pioneers and farmers, then the tourists, and at last the railway-builders.
Shattering the primeval silence of the Gale-River Valley, and filling the ravines
of Mount Lafayette with smoke and roaring, the iron steeds now pause within
a mile of the Great Stone Face, and ere long will descend the Pemigewasset
Valley on their levelled bands of steel.




THE PROFILE HOUSE.



THE PROFILE HOUSE.




HE Franconia Mountains, though less lofty and majestic than
their neighbors on the east, are in many respects more beauti-
ful and rich in restful and tranquillizing influences. The woods
have not suffered from fire to the extent that the White-Moun-
tain forests have ; and now stand in all their primeval strength
and richness, sweeping down from the crests of the ridges,
and overarching the narrow road below with their abundant frondage. The
sweet and tranquil lakelets nestling under the rugged cliffs, the wonderful and
unique natural phenomena of the rocks, and the positive affluence of the sylvan
scenery, give a peculiar charm to the whole Franconian region. Though the
heights press upon the glen more closely than do the walls of the White-
Mountain Notch, there is less of oppression and constraint in their effects, so
fresh and attractive are the adornments which Nature has placed upon them.
There are no memories of tragedy here, no sombre mementoes of disaster, no
prolonged slopes of sand and rock, but bright color and wavy grace, mirror-
like blue waters, gayly-tinted ledges, and unnumbered legions of hardy trees,
scaling the steep inclines, and fearlessly facing the batteries of the elements.
Among these verdant glens rises the Pemigewasset River, which ripples away
down the Notch, and along that fair valley below, until, joining its crystal flood
with the outflow of Lake Winnepesaukee, it forms the Merrimac, and hurries
by many a busy city to meet the sea at gray old Newburyport.

The human centre of all this family of woody peaks and sunlit tarns is the
Profile House, with its group of villas and out-buildings, occupying the highest
place in the Franconia Notch, 1,974 feet above the sea, and lifting a mass of
white light against the dark verdure which rises on every hand. On one side
towers the long and elephantine ridge of Cannon Mountain, crested with a
siege-gun of stone ; and on the other are the foot-hills of the lofty and crag-
crowned Mount Lafayette, from whose summit one can look into Mame, Ver-
mont, and Canada. None of the pleasure-resorts of Northern New England
have such charms for New-Yorkers and Philadelphians as this secluded glen
enjoys ; and here scores of those graceful beauties of the Empire City, who are
at once the prides of America and the idols of young Europe, fill the August
days with more than vernal joys.



ECHO LAKE, FRANCONIA NOTCH.



ECHO LAKE, FRAN'CONIA NOTCH.




iMID the noble brotherhood of green peaks called the Fran-
conia Mountains, the spirit of awful myster}^ is petrified in the
Profile, grandeur is exemplified in the vast masses of Mount
Lafayette and Cannon Mountain, and weirdness, singularity,
the grotesque phases of Nature's pla}-ful moods, are manifested
in the Flume and the Pool. But the culmination of pure and
simple beauty, the crown of grace, and the mirror of brightness, appears in
Echo Lake, the limpid tarn which lies in the northern end of the Notch, high
above the Franconian plains. The highway from the Profile House to Littleton
skirts one side of it, and the ambitious little railway from Bethlehem station is
on the opposite shore ; but both are hidden by the luxuriant forests which
sweep down on all sides, save where the boat-houses rise to shelter Franconia's
mimic navy. On the east are bold and picturesque cliffs, rising from the
shores, and bracing the lower terraces of Mount Lafayette with stupendous
buttresses of rugged rock, draped with climbing green vines, and hanging out
the banners of the hardy trees, whose roots are fixed in the clefts of the preci-
pice. Glorious tints of sunset fall upon these high walls and mounting pillars
when the lake below has been shrouded in twilight, and the night is approach-
ing from the eastern sea. At that hour the environs of Echo Lake are endowed
with a profound fascination, and fairly glow with poetic splendor, while scores
of glad-hearted visitors float upon the glassy waters in the pretty little boats of
the Profile-House squadron. Then, too, the deep-toned shouts and the silver}-
laughter of the evening voyagers are thrown back by the cliffs as if in badinage ;
and the cannon on the western shore is fired from time to time to arouse sterner
reverberations, rattling back from Artist's Bluff and Bald Mountain, and swell-
ing away through the distant ravines in a sinking surge of sound. You may
close your eyes, and let this ominous echo bring to mind the iron hail of Peters-
burg or Plevna ; but to the quick vision the scene suggests some sweet and
sylvan lakelet in an Arcadia of the Knickerbockers.




THE FLUME.



THE FLUME.




"HE Flume House occupies a very beautiful situation on a
terrace at the southern end of the Franconia Notch, and over-
looks the extensive vistas of the Pemigewasset Valley, whose
scenery is so widely famous for its pastoral beauty and idyllic
grace. During the long, bright days of summer, the Campton
lowlands are drenched with sunshine, and glorious in color; and
the bright stream liows downward thereby, offering its crystal refreshment to
the dreamy-eyed cattle, as it had given it to the mountain-bears above.

It is less than a mile from the hotel to the great natural curiosity from
which it derives its name, and the road stops at the long ledges which rise like
a glacis to the castle-gate above. There the wonderful chasm begins, and
extends along the flank of the mountain for seven hundred feet, with a width
of from ten to twenty feet, and a depth of nearly sixty feet. On either side
are perpendicular walls of granite, prolonged by the tall shafts of the forest-
trees above, and overarched by a green canopy of foliage ; while the floor of
the gorge is littered by fragments of rock, amongst which purls and babbles
the rill from the icy reservoirs above. Rich mosses, freshened by the exhala-
tions from below, form a graceful cornice to the walls, and adorn their sides
with bits of vivid tapestry ; and summer-day visitors, sauntering along the
plank-walk which lies by the brookside, enjoy the comforting dampness and
coolness of the sunless depths, no matter what the heat in the valley outside.

Here I have met Emerson, the sphynx of Concord, rambling solitary
among the trees, and doubtless spiritually attended by a kindred group of
ancient sages, as old as Hesiod, or at least as Plato, while he mused upon what
he has so mystically called "the good rocks, those patient waiters." Starr
King, one of the most enthusiastic of the earlier visitors to the Flume, insisted
that every one who wished to see it properly should go alone, " quietly, and


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Online LibraryMoses Foster SweetserViews in the White Mountains → online text (page 1 of 2)