May 18, 1999: A Visit With Jack Fontaine in NH
May 8, 1999: Ron and Lowery Leave for Florida
Return to the Index for 1999

May 15-16, 1999
A Weekend in New Hampshire


Working with DRT, Inc., I had a business trip to Concord, New Hampshire for the two weeks from May 10 through May 21. As part of our consulting agreements with clients, I was allowed the funds to go home to Dallas over the intervening weekend, May 15-16. Since I had the funds, though, instead of using them to return to Dallas, I instead used them to bring Fred to New Hampshire for the weekend. He had never been to New England before, so this would be something different for him.

He flew into Boston's Logan International Airport on Friday evening, May 14th, and I picked him up there. Sadly, Sol Azteca, the Mexican restaurant that I am sure I have mentioned before, was already closed when he got in late, so we stopped at a 24-hour diner on the way north to Concord, where I was staying.

I was at the Red Roof Inn just a block south of the Paymentech building and just east of I-93. We had been talking about things to do and see in the weeks before Fred came up, so we got to sleep right away, intending to do as much as we could on Saturday and Sunday.

We had some breakfast at the hotel before heading north on I-93 to our first stop- the Flume at Franconia Notch State Park.


The Flume Gorge Hike

The Flume Gorge is part of Franconia Notch State Park which is, in turn, part of the White Mountains. This huge are of forest, trail and stream is located about a hundred miles north of Concord, but by mid-morning we had found the entrance to the parking area for the Flume Gorge Visitor Center with no problem.

There was a rather large parking area, for this is the starting point for not only the Flume Gorge Hike but also a number of other trails in the area. It is also a popular day-use spot for picnickers and families. The Visitor Center, which looked quite new, was interesting inside, but we did not want to occupy ourselves walking around it- we were eager to get to the hiking.

Before we head off on the hike, though, let's take a look at the area we will be hiking through. In this photo album, I am fond of using aerial views to give you a sense of what a place was like, and I wanted to do so here, as well. (Aerial views were not available in 1999, but I am doing this particular page in 2014, when they are.) When I looked at the aerial view of the area, though, it was very hard to pick out any of the details of the hike. Actually, the area is so forested, that I really didn't expect to even see the trail, but I thought that one of the covered bridges, and the flume itself, which are open to the sky and not hidden underneath the tree canopy would be visible.

But they really weren's all that visible. It's not that you can't see them from orbit, but I have found that once you get very far outside urban areas, the resolution of the aerial views that are available is nothing like what you can get in major urban areas. I guess it is just not cost-effective for anyone to survey the wide open spaces with the detail that they do the places most people go.

Still, I thought the aerial view would be interesting, so I have included it below, marked to show the route we followed and the places we stopped (even if we didn't take any pictures of them). Just for your information, I have put beside the aerial view a copy of the trail diagram that we got in the trail guide that we picked up in the visitor center:

The Flume is a natural gorge extending 800 feet at the base of Mount Liberty. The walls of Conway granite rise to a height of 70 to 90 feet and are 12 to 20 feet apart. A trip into the Flume begins and ends at the Flume Visitor's Center. Guests can choose to walk through just the Gorge or do a two mile loop. The walk includes uphill walking and lots of stairs. The boardwalk allows one to look closely at the growth of flowers, ferns and mosses found here.

We walked through the Visitor Center to the trailhead. The first part of the hike took us from the Visitor Center to a covered bridge;. This picturesque covered bridge is one of the oldest in the state. It was built in the 1886 and has been restored several times. Such bridges were often called “kissing bridges” because of the darkness and privacy they provided. This bridge was built across the scenic Pemigewasset River. Pemigewasset means “swift or rapid current” in the Abenaki Indian language.

The river was very scenic at this point; the Flume is actually a half-mile upriver. But you can see in the pictures at left what a nice mountain stream it is at this point, near to where it goes under the covered bridge.

From the covered bridge we continued up the trail through the shady woods that bordered Flume Brook. Fred, of course, was interested in some of the forest flora that we passed. (He even snapped a picture of some of the forest fauna that we encountered.) Along the trail, we also passed some little rivulets that brought more water into Flume Brook, and one of them had a particularly nice little waterfall.

Click on the thumbnail images below to see some other views of Flume Brook as it looks below the gorge:

Soon, we came to the beginning of the boardwalk and stairway system that led into the actual Flume gorge. At the lower end of the Flume Gorge was perhaps the nicest waterfall we would see all day. It was particularly neat in that it was easy to climb around next to it, and of course, I did so. crossing a little footbridge over to the far side of the brook, scrambling up beside the waterfall. From here, I could see back down to the boardwalk that leads into the flume gorge. I thought it was nice that this pretty waterfall was so accessible; even people who weren't going to do the whole circular walk that we were could get to this spot to view it. Fred also crossed the bridge, although he didn't come up as high as I was. He did, however, take a picture of me beside the waterfall.

Coming back down from the side of the waterfall, we headed up the boardwalk into the flume gorge. The first thing that happened was that we ascended a stairway that brought us about to the level of the top of the falls we had just been at, while the walls of the gorge were rising above us. From that point, we were in a long, narrow canyon, with Flume Brook running through it.

The pictures at right will show you exactly what we saw. It was really quite amazing- not just the natural wonder of the Flume Gorge, but also the effort that those who constructed the walkways and stairs. I suppose that the canyon was about a quarter mile long, and the stairs and walkway ascended continually all the way to the end of the canyon, which narrowed and got more shallow as we proceeded.

As we got to the end of the canyon, we could see Avalanche Falls ahead of us. At this point, the stairway climbed up to a footbridge that took us over the brook to the west (the boardwalk had switched to the other side of the canyon towards the head of it).

At the top of the Flume, the trail continued a bit northeast towards Bear Cave (which turned out to be not much of a cave, but interesting in that when you go back into it (about fifteen feet), there is a hole in the ceiling where you can go up to meet the trail again. I did that, and I was fun. Along this short segment northeast, we were still beside Flume Brook.

At Bear Cave, the trail turned northwest, and we got our last view of Flume Brook coming down from the hillside above us, and forming a very nice waterfall. From that point, the trail became a forest walk as it wandered northwest and sloped downward to the point where we would cross another of one of the many streams that flow through the White Mountains.

The forest walk had its own attractions, although it is always nice to be walking along flowing water. After about a half mile, we came to an overlook where we could see the Sentinel Pine covered bridge that crosses a second stream. The trail came down to the east end of the covered bridge, and we crossed it to get to the west side of the stream that it crossed.

On the high cliff above the Pool, the Sentinel Pine stood for centuries. It was one of the largest in the state, nearly 175 feet high, with a circumference of 16 feet. The hurricane of September, 1938 uprooted the giant pine whose trunk now bridges the river above the Pool and forms the base for the covered bridge.Midway across the bridge, I got a picture of Fred with the upstream portion of the creek in the background. Sadly, I should have used a flash, but you can see that picture here. Fred asked me to stay where I was when I took his picture, and he continued to the end of the bridge to turn and take a nice photo of me on the covered bridge. Just below and downstream from the Sentinel Pine covered bridge is The Pool.

The Pool is a deep basin in the Pemigewasset River. It was formed at the end of the Ice Age, 14,000 years ago, by a silt-laden stream flowing from the glacier. The Pool is 40 feet deep and 150 feet in diameter, and is surrounded by cliffs 130 feet high. A cascade rushes into itover fragments of granite that have fallen from the cliffs above. Once again, the path descended through the woods and along the low cliff beside the stream (from which the previous picture was taken. There were also great views of the White Mountains. In case you are curious, here is a closeup of the portion of the sign I am leaning on that will identify the mountains in the picture:

We followed the trail back to the Visitor Center, passing a number of large glacial boulders that littered the forest. At the Center, we stopped to have some lunch before leaving the Flume and heading off to see something else.


The Basin

We got back on Interstate 93 and continued north a mile or so to exit 34A, the marked exit for a geologic wonder called The Basin.

The Basin

At the base of a beautiful waterfall is a granite pothole 20 feet in diameter. It is believed to have been eroded 15,000 years ago while the North American ice sheet was melting. The Basin has been smoothed by small stones and sand, whirled around by the Pemigewasset River. Along with the Flume Gorge and the Man in the Mountain, it is one of the major attractions in Franconia Notch State Park.

Franconia Notch State Park is located in the White Mountains and straddles 8 miles of Interstate 93 as it passes through Franconia Notch, a mountain pass between the Kinsman Range and Franconia Range. In addition to the attractions listed above, there is fishing in Echo Lake and Profile Lake, and miles of hiking, biking and ski trails.

When we parked and walked through the tunnel underneath the Interstate to The Basin, we found ourselves beside the Pemigewasset River again. The Basin, which is about four feet deep and 20 feet across, was scrubbed out by stones dragged (and eventually deposited) by the retreating North American ice sheet, and since made smooth by 15 millennia of rapidly whirling pebbles and grit.

Below the Basin is "Old Man's Foot", a distinctively shaped rock formation, also the natural result of Pemigewasset's erosive energy.

Water Swirling Into the Basin

The area around the Basin was broad and there were plenty of places to walk around (and in) the river as it flowed through the area. I liked it because there weren't lots of signs and barriers trying to keep you "safe."

Click on the thumbnail images below to see some other pictures taken here at The Basin:

As a matter of fact, I recall that there was only one sign cautioning that rocks can be wet and slippery, but I suppose that because there was no high fall or other sharp drop-off, Park officials have left it to parents to watch their kids and adults to watch themselves. We did not see anyone in The Basin, but I have read that it can be a popular, if somewhat turbulent, place for the young and reckless to swim. For our part, we enjoyed walking around here immensely.


The Cascades and Kinsman Falls

As it turned out, we didn't have to drive to the next water feature, for near The Basin was a sign directing us to a one-mile trail to some other water features.

The Cascades

The sign at The Basin directed us to a trail that led north along the Pemigewasset River to some other features. The first we arrived at was an area called simply The Cascades. You can click on the thumbnail images below, left, for a couple of additional pictures we took here at The Cascades.

One of the neat features here at The Cascades was the huge tree that had falled conveniently across the riverbed, providing a natural bridge from one side to the other. I walked out on the log to have my picture taken, and would have crossed to the other side to the inviting forest I could see there, but the middle of the tree was just narrow enough, and the distance to the rocks below just great enough as to trigger a bit of nervousness, so I rethought things. I did take a picture of the forest ahead of me, but I was unsteady on the log, and the forest ended up looking crazily tilted, as you can see here.

From The Cascades we continued further along the trail to Kinsman Falls; it was an easy hike along the river. There was a sign when we arrived at Kinsman Falls, we found ourselves at a large pool with the waterfall on the far side.

We spent, I suppose, more than an hour on this hike along the river, and it was very, very pleasant. Eventually, we headed back to the car to continue north through Franconia Notch.


The Old Man in the Mountain

Franconia Notch State Park is home to Cannon Mountain, named for a rock formation in the shape of a cannon found on the summit. Cannon is also famous for being one of the most challenging hills in New England. It boasts an aerial tram, which runs year-round, ferrying sightseers to the summit in the summer time and skiers in the winter. At the base of the tramway is the New England Ski Museum, with exhibits on the history of alpine skiing in New England and America. But the mountain is most famous for a different geologic formation- the "Old Man in the Mountain."

The Old Man of the Mountain, also known as the Great Stone Face or the Profile, was a series of five granite cliff ledges on Cannon Mountain in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, that, when viewed from the north, appeared to be the jagged profile of a face. The rock formation was 1,200 feet above Profile Lake, and measured 40 feet tall and 25 feet wide. The site is located in the town of Franconia.

The formation was carved by glaciers and was first recorded as being discovered by a surveying team around 1805. The official state history says several groups of surveyors were working in the Franconia Notch area at the time and claimed credit for the discovery.

The Old Man was famous largely because of statesman Daniel Webster, a New Hampshire native, who once wrote: "Men hang out their signs indicative of their respective trades; shoe makers hang out a gigantic shoe; jewelers a monster watch, and the dentist hangs out a gold tooth; but up in the Mountains of New Hampshire, God Almighty has hung out a sign to show that there He makes men."

The writer Nathaniel Hawthorne used the Old Man as inspiration for his short story "The Great Stone Face", published in 1850, in which he described the formation as "a work of Nature in her mood of majestic playfulness".

I first became aware of the image when I was a kid collecting stamps. The profile has been New Hampshire's state emblem since 1945. It was put on the state's license plate and its route signs. On June 21, 1955 in Franconia, NH, the USPS issued the stamp shown at right depicting this rock formation, and when my Dad bought a sheet of them we also bought a few extra for my budding collection.

Over the years, freezing and thawing opened fissures in the Old Man's forehead. By the 1920s, the crack was wide enough to be mended with chains, and in 1957 the state legislature passed a $25,000 appropriation for a more elaborate weatherproofing, using 20 tons of fast-drying cement, plastic covering, and steel rods and turnbuckles, plus a concrete gutter to divert runoff from above. A team from the state highway and park divisions maintained the patchwork each summer.

Nevertheless, the formation collapsed to the ground between midnight and 2 a.m., May 3, 2003. Dismay over the collapse was so great that people left flowers at the base of the cliffs in tribute. In 2004, the state legislature considered a proposal to change New Hampshire's state flag to include the profile, an idea that was eventually shelved.

So, the Old Man of the Mountain exists now only in the memories of the people who have actually seen it, as well as the innumerable pictures that have been taken of it- pictures like the two we took today.


Crawford Notch State Park

From Cannon Mountain, we plotted a drive around the north side of Franconia Notch State Park and over towards Mt. Washington. Going to the top of that mountain is something I definitely wanted to do with Fred, but it didn't look as if there would be time today. But we wanted to go find out anyway.

Just before exiting Franconia Notch State Park, we took a New Hampshire highway off to the northeast to connect up with US 302 east. This is the road that takes us to Mt. Washington. When we got to the road that goes up to the cog rail station that takes you to the top of the mountain, there were hours posted, and we could see that we would rushed through our trip if we tried to make it today. So, since we weren't really that far from our motel, we decided to return here tomorrow.

We went on past the entrance to the town of Crawford. We had been seeing signs along this highway for one of New Hampshire's scenic trains- the Crawford Notch Railway. And when we came out into the small valley where the town of Crawford was located, we could plainly see the Crawford Station for this scenic railway.

It was really picturesque, so we got out of the car to go have a look at it up close. Here is another view:

It was getting late, so we thought we'd wend our way back down to the hotel, passing through Crowford Notch State Park as we went.

Heading south on US 302, we were about two miles south of Crawford, and into Crawford Notch State Park when we came across an added bonus, right beside the highway. It was Arethusa Falls.

The falls, which are a very short hike east of the highway, are about 200 feet high. As it turned out, the short trail to Arethusa falls also took us along Bemis Brook and past Coliseum Falls. We passed Coliseum Falls about a half mile into the hike, and about three-quarters of a mile after that came to Arethusa falls. These falls are best viewed from below, when you can look up at the long stretch of cascades. We did a fair amount of rock scrambling here in the late afternoon; since the falls were on the west side of a mountain, they were in sunlight until quite late.

Click on the thumbnail images below to see some of the other pictures we took here at Arethusa Falls:

Our light was fading as we left the falls, and so we just drove down through the very scenic state park with the windows down, passing picturesque little towns and hotels and inns until we came back to a highway that would take us back to the interstate. We had dinner when we got back close to the hotel. (Actually, the Red Roof Inn had been full for Saturday night, and so I'd moved us to a Holiday Inn Express right nearby.


Sunday on Mount Washington

You have already seen maps of how we got from the hotel up into Franconia Notch, but you might be interested in seeing exactly where Mt. Washington is located.

As you can see, Mt. Washington (the peak, at least) is located about five miles off of US 302, the road we were on yesterday that brought us south through the town of Crawford. Just north of Crawford, as I indicated yesterday, there was a turnoff for the Cog Railway up to the top of the mountain, and today we drove back up there and took that turnoff.

There is actually an auto road up to the top of Mt. Washington, but it begins on the east slope, and would have been quite a drive for us to get to. And it would not have been nearly so interesting as taking the cog railway that we'd heard so much about. That's why we decided to do it this way.

Let's take a look at an aerial view of the area between and including the Marshfield Station (the base station for the cog railway) and the peak of Mt. Washington:

The two-mile entrance road from Highway 302 is entering the view from the left, arriving in the parking area for the base station. (We'll look at the base station in more detail in a moment.) You can see the cog railway track leaving and ascending from the base station going northeast out of the view. It is hard to see it as it comes back into view on the peak, as it blends in to the barrenness of the peak (which we will also see in more detail in a little while).

This was our first visit to Mt. Washington, but it wouldn't be our last. About twelve years from now, we'll be taking a trip to New England with some friends we'll make in 2009, and one of the things we will want to show them is Mt. Washington. You may already have viewed that page in this album but if you haven't, you might want to after looking at this one. At that time, I'll have a movie camera with me, and you'll be able to watch some movies of the base station, the cog railway in action, and the things to do at the peak.

We spent quite a bit of time here today- staying until mid-afternoon. (We would have stayed later, but Fred had to make a 9PM flight back to Dallas from Boston, which meant we'd have to leave Mt. Washington about 4PM or so.) We took a fair number of pictures, too. First, we'll arrive at Marsfield Station, get our tickets and board the train. Then, we'll take the train ride to the top of the mountain and spend some time there, taking pictures of the expansive views and touring the museum and other facilities. Along about 3:30PM, we'll have to think about leaving and heading back down to Boston.


At Marshfield Station

From Highway 302, we drove up the access road to Marshfield Station.

At left you can see an aerial view of the cog railway base station- Marshfield Station. The resolution of this aerial view is surprising for such a rural area. Most of the area is parking, but you can easily see the station/museum building, and I have pointed out the loading platform and an outdoor exhibit area. (This area did not exist when we were here, but it was on our second visit in 2011, so if you want, you can see some pictures of it on that page.)

We parked the car went over to the ticket office to buy our railway tickets. (Later, we were to make a mental note that if we ever visited here again, even in mid-summer, we would bring jackets or sweaters with us. It wasn't cool here at the base station, but we were distinctly chilly as we were wandering around on top of the mountain.) We walked around to the northwest side of the station building and went downstairs to the ticket office to buy our tickets for the ride to the top.

We were able to get tickets on the very next train; today was not a particularly busy one at Mt. Washington. There was a museum inside the station, but we did not take the time to wander through it. We did get some history of the railway from our ticket brochures, though. That history began in 1852 after a hiker, Sylvester Marsh, became lost near the summit of the mountain. Once he'd found his way back down, he decided that there had to be a better way for people to reach the highest mountain peak in the Northeast. Upon his return home, he immediately started working on a plan to build the world's first mountain-climbing cog railway.

Marsh, a native of Campton, New Hampshire, had made his fortune in Chicago's meat-packing industry and was considered by his contemporaries to be a creative and innovative thinker. However, upon first presenting his idea to members of the New Hampshire Legislature, they laughed at him and said that he "might as well build a railway to the Moon." Undaunted, Marsh began the task of building his mountain climbing railway, working with inventors Herrick and Walter Aiken, a father-and-son team from Franklin, New Hampshire. The task was not an easy one, as equipment and materials had to be hauled by oxen for 25 miles to Bretton Woods, and then another six miles through thick forest to the base of Mount Washington. But on July 3, 1869, 'Old Peppersass' became the first cog-driven train to climb 6,288-foot Mount Washington. It was also the first such mountain-climbing cog railway in the world, beating the introduction of Europe's first such railway (at Mt. Rigi in Switzerland) by two years.

Fred and Our Cog Train

140 years later, The Mount Washington Cog Railway is a National Historic Engineering Landmark. With its vintage steam engines and replica coaches, as well as biodiesel locomotives, the Mount Washington Cog Railway is an attraction that anyone visiting the White Mountains of New Hampshire simply must visit. This was our second time here, and the experience, although not cheap, was just as enjoyable the second time around. In 1983, the Presby and Bedor families together purchased the cog railway and, since then, they, and their staff, have restored all six coal-fired locomotives, built a new base station (improving the grounds and maintenance facilities in the process), replaced the tracks, improved the switching system and established the museum.

There are multiple trains in use on the cog railway; I think I saw at least four. About halfway up the mountain, the track splits for a quarter mile or so to allow two trains to pass. This switching system was one of the improvements made to speed up the process of getting folks up and down the mountain. It allowed multiple trains to be used effectively- reducing wait times significantly.

As I said, when we got our tickets, they were for the very next train, which was outside with passengers already bording. Fred took a picture of me and our train. I might mention that after spending a good deal of time on the peak, when we came down, it was on a different train. We went up on train Number 6, but came back down on train Number 9. One thing you can see in both those pictures is that when a train starts out from the station, it is faced immediately with a 40% incline; only a cog train could possibly do that. The maximum grade for regular trains already at full speed is about five percent, and a ten percent highway grade is considered steep. Our trains consisted of basically a single car and an engine, but in the summer months, additional cars are brought out. One engine can push three cars up the mountain.

Finally, it was time to board our train. As I am wont to do, I like to sit at the front, but when we boarded, the coach was almost full, and most of the seats at the front were already taken. We got a pair of seats towards the back, but it turned out that this didn't really matter, for when the train started up the mountain, you were allowed to move around, and I could get up to the front and out on the open platform to get good views. Just before we departed, I went to the back of the coach to get a picture of the inside of our car. On our return trip, we were in a different coach with a different group of people, of course, and as it turned out, that coach was almost empty. You can see the inside of our coach coming down here.


Going Up and Down Mt. Washington

As I said, even though our upbound coach was pretty full, there was plenty of opportunity to move around. And coming down, we had even more, so there was no dearth of opportunities for picture-taking.

From our vantage point at the front of the passenger car, Fred and I had great views of the trip up Mt. Washington. The weather was almost perfect, and we enjoyed the trip immensely.

At the front of our car, there was an open door that led out to the small platform at the front of the car. Remember, we are being pushed up the mountain or supported on our way back down- the engine is always behind us. I spent most of my time on that platform, both going up and coming down. Fred didn't move much out of his seat going up; he thought the car too crowded. But coming down, with the car mostly empty, he spent some time with me out there. He got a nice picture of me with the White Mountains in the background.

When Fred was out on the front platform, I returned the favor and took a couple of pictures of him, and you can click on the thumbnail images below to see a couple of those pictures:

I liked being up here on the platform; it is always nice, on tramways, railways, subways- almost any kind of conveyance- to be able to see where you are going. At least I think so. Most people, however, seem content to stay in one place and look out side windows, and I will admit that the views out the windows on the trips up and down were good, too. Here is one view out our side windows at the snowy summit of Mt. Washington.

As you can see in the picture at right, the views ahead- and up- were pretty interesting; the mountain scenery and the nice weather made most of our pictures today really good. On a whim, I went to the back of the car to see what the view might be like, even knowing that the engine was back there. What I found was that I could get nice views to the rear looking back alongside the engine itself. You can see one of those views here.

The final portion of the trip up to the top of Mt. Washington took us over a section known as "Jacob's Ladder," perhaps because the grade exceeds 37%- the steepest on this railway and indeed on any cog railway in the country. We had left all the trees behind, and the area we traversed was barren, rocky upland. And, even as late as May, there was still snow on the ground as we approached the peak. Click on the thumbnail images below to see some pictures we took on our way up (or down) Mt. Washington:

At one point, we passed a memorial to Lizzie Bourne of Kennebunk Maine, who died here on 14 September 1885. On that day, Lizzie, along with two relatives, tried to climb Mount Washington without a guide. They left the Glen House at the bottom of the mountain at about 2 PM and walked up the then-existing carriage road. They had started out too late, and were still not at the top when night fell. Lizzie was wearing the usual apparel for women of her time, which hindered her movement during a violent gale that came up. Quickly becoming cold and confused, Lizzie died from exposure about 10 PM. When the sun rose, her companions sadly realized they were only a few hundred yards from the summit house. Her family built this monument near the spot where Lizzie perished. And so Lizzie Bourne's spirit continues to survey a view with a circumference of nearly 1,000 miles, including parts of five states and the province of Quebec, although her body is actually buried at Hope Cemetery in Kennebunk, Maine.

As we came around the last part of Jacob's Ladder, we could see the buildings at the top of Mt. Washington off in the distance, and we started getting ready to disembark.


At the Top of Mt. Washington

When we disembarked from the train, we found ourselves in an open area that had views to the north. It was here that we found the official sign for Mt. Washington State Park.

From the area between the train platform and the buildings, we had beautiful views to the north and east. As you can see, the views from here were quite spectacular.

Click on the thumbnails below to see some of the interesting buildings and views here at the top of Mt. Washington:

Now we headed off to see what else we could find up here on the mountaintop.

At right is an aerial view of the top of Mt. Washington. I have labeled some of the buildings and other points of interest that we visited. When we walked into the building housing the museum and cafe, we found an informative sign from which we found we were now at an altitude of over six thousand feet high, having come up about about half that height from Marshfield Station.

Inside, we wandered through the building for a few minutes. I stopped at the weather station and read about the sixty or so people who have died on Mt. Washington through the years. The museum was on a lower level, with the upper level given over to the cafe and gift shop in a large room with numerous large windows offering views of the panorama outside.

Next, we left the cozy building and headed up onto the observation deck to take in the panorama around us. From the observation deck, and indeed from just about everywhere on the peak, the views were indeed really great. Click on the thumbnail images below to see a few of them:

We walked around the rest of the area here at the peak and had a look at all the communications and scientific gear scattered about- presumably taking advantage of being at the highest point in this part of New England. Then we walked a bit south to a pile or rocks about fifteen feet high. It was on top of this pile that we found the actual summit of the mountain (see one of the pictures above).

We also stopped at Tip Top House- once a hotel here at the peak. (By the mid-1800s lots of tourists were utilizing the new train service into the White Mountains, and a bridle path was opened to the summit to made it accessible to them. The first hotel, the Summit House, was built in 1852, just feet from the highest crag of Mount Washington. The rugged stone hotel was so successful its first year of operation that a competing hotel, the Tip Top House, was built the following year.) Eventually, it became the offices for a newspaper - Among the Clouds- that was printed on the summit, but when the paper moved to a different building, it fell into disuse and disrepair. The Great Fire of 1908 destroyed the “City Among the Clouds,” sparing only the Tip Top House. The sturdy building was renovated to once again serve as a hotel until a new one was built. Its long history as a hotel ended when it was abandoned in 1968. It is now a State Historic Site and museum.

We spent quite a while here at the summit, and might have stayed longer, but Fred's 9PM flight home from Boston was a limiting factor. We walked back over to the train platform to get on the next train heading down, and that's where we took the picture at left. There was time to walk around before the train's departure, so I walked to a different spot to photograph the same train from a different angle.

Our trip down was just as enjoyable as the trip up, although because our car was fairly lightly filled, it was easier to move around and get good pictures. By 4PM we were back down at Marshfield Station.

Before we got in the car to head out, Fred noticed some wildflowers some wildflowers growing near the parking area. He went over to photograph them and you can see a couple more pictures here and here.


Fred Leaves for Dallas

As we left Mt. Washington on Highway 302, we passed what looked like the hotel in The Shining, or something. It turned out to be The Mount Washington Hotel.

The Mt. Washington Hotel was constructed by Joseph Stickney, a native of Waltham, Massachusetts, who had made a fortune before the age of 30 as a coal broker in Pennsylvania. In 1900 Stickney and his partner, John N. Conyngham, began work on his Mount Washington Hotel. He brought in 250 Italian artisans to build it, particularly the granite and stucco masonry. The hotel opened on July 28, 1902. At the opening ceremony, Stickney told the audience: "Look at me, gentlemen ... for I am the poor fool who built all this!" (At a cost of some $50 million in today's dollars.) Within a year he was dead at the age of 64.

His wife, Carolyn Stickney, summered at the hotel for the next decade, adding the Sun Dining Room with guest rooms above, the fourth floor between the towers, and the chapel honoring her late husband. Under its capable first manager, John Anderson, the hotel was a success. But the advent of income tax, Prohibition, and the Great Depression curtailed the hospitality business. In 1936, Mrs. Stickney's nephew, Foster Reynolds, inherited the hotel, which closed in 1942 because of World War II. A Boston syndicate bought the extensive property for about $450,000 In 1944. The Bretton Woods monetary conference took place there that year, establishing the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The owners were paid $300,000 for the loss of business and promised a daily room charge of $18 per person for the 19-day conference.

The Mount Washington Hotel and Resort is one of the last surviving grand hotels in the White Mountains, and includes an 18-hole Donald Ross-designed golf course, as well as a 9-hole course on its facilities. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986. The hotel will have its first winter season this very year; up until now it has closed to guests late in the fall and reopened in the spring.

Our drive down to Boston was very pleasant. We stopped twice- once at the Holiday Inn so Fred could collect his stuff, and another time at a diner north of Boston for supper. (I wanted to take Fred to Sol Azteca, the Mexican restaurant I had eaten at so frequently when I worked with Cullinane and IST, but I didn't think there would be time to negotiate downtown Boston. I had Fred at the airport in plenty of time, though, and he was off for Dallas right on schedule.

You can use the links below to continue to another photo album page.

May 18, 1999: A Visit With Jack Fontaine in NH
May 8, 1999: Ron and Lowery Leave for Florida
Return to the Index for 1999