Sunday, April 21, 2013

4-21-13 More On Path Building by the Appalachian Mountain Club between 1860 and 1920

The following is included because it's reliable trail history from Frank H. Burt that, in most cases or comparisons, corroborates the trail history I've compiled and recently published in several recent articles under the heading The Pemi Traverse.  I'm including these odds and ends because they're accurate, they provide a really valuable chronology, and they're brief. Some of the information will be redundant but I'm including it for the sake of reliability. Writing history can be challenging because it requires reading many sources and ferreting out discrepancies.  I want to provide readers with what is most reliable, most accurate. If reading history bores you I will not complain if you skip these sections.

Frank H. Burt was a prolific writer. He spent many years in the White Mountains and witnessed a lot of history being made. He wrote: "It was my good fortune in the early days of the Club to meet many active Appalachians, both on Mt. Washington and at field meetings in different parts of the mountains and it was an interesting part of my duties to report in Among the Clouds their path work and exploration." (Appalachia XIV, p. 47)

In 1901 Frank H. Burt became the editor of Among The Clouds, the newspaper printed on the summit of Mt. Washington since the summer of 1877 when and where it was founded by his father, Henry Burt. Frank continued printing the paper until the summer of 1908 when a massive fire destroyed most of the buildings on the summit including the Among the Clouds newspaper office.

Frank, by 1908, had become a fixture in the mountains and as a newspaper owner and editor he was a storehouse of stories and information. Many times during his life, he died in 1946, he was on hand at important Appalachian Mountain Club events to entertain guests with little known stories about the White Mountains. He had a good memory. The following narrative begins with a prepared speech he gave at an AMC meeting that he titled, "The White Mountains 40 Years Ago" meaning the period from 1870 when he made his first visit to the mountains with his father and up into the 20th century.

His 1870 visit was brief, he told the guests. He was only 10 years old and his memory contained only snapshots of things that appealed to a 10 year old boy, certainly a few of the huge, new hotels. For instance, he and his father stayed their first night at the Profile House in Franconia Notch which sprawled across several acres and was several stories high. They then traveled by a six-horse-team Concord Coach to the Crawford House, a trip, he reported, that took 5 hours, or half a day. In transit they went past the brand new Twin Mountain House, completed in 1869, and the newest version of the White Mountain House still under construction. The original White Mountain House, once owned owned by Horace Fabyan, had burned to the ground in1853. By 1870 the Cog Railway up Mt. Washington was complete and quickly gaining deserved fame. The Cog Railway was the primary reason Henry and Frank were visiting. In 1870, at the time of their first visit, a connecting rail line from Fabyans to the Cog base station didn't yet exist. By 1870 the tracks of the Boston, Concord and Montreal Rail Road (B.C.M.R.R.) reached Fabyans from Boston via Littleton, NH. The lack of a connecting line from the Cog to the main road had been a major problem in constructing the Cog Railway because all of the lumber, machinery and rolling stock for the Cog Railway had to be transported to the site of the base station on huge sleds pulled by long trains of oxen! It was also a problem for Henry Burt because he wanted to move an entire newspaper business to the summit that included the heavy presses.

In 1875 the Portland and Ogdensburg Rail Road finally completed a main line up through Crawford Notch that joined with the B.C.M. at Fabyans, and, the following year, the B.C.M. extended its tracks to just below the Cog Railway Base Station at Marshfield, and the tracks for the Cog were extended down to meet the B.C.M. tracks. It became possible to get on a train in New York, Boston, Montreal, Portland, Springfield or Worcester and, with an easy car change at Marshfield to hop on the Cog Railway and be puffing your way to the summit of Mt. Washington

Frank Burt's second visit to the White Mountains came in 1877, the year after the AMC was founded.  This time he and his father traveled royally on the White Mountain Express from their home in Springfield, MA, where they began their trip at 12 noon and arrived at Fabyans in 5 hours arriving there in time for supper! (I wish the White Mountain Express was still running.) It was quite a change from 1870! With them was all the printing equipment to set up tAmong the Clouds on the summit where it would be printed every day for 31 years, but only during the summer.

 Staff of Among the Clouds at Marshfield. Frank H. Burt is third from the left.

That first night at Fabyans the AMC was holding its fourth "Field Meeting" which were basically planning sessions for the nascent mountain club. Frank sat a table with J. Rayner Edmands and E. C. Pickering, the Club's new President. A few days later Among the Clouds was up and running on the summit and the front page story was about the AMC's field meeting at Fabyans. From that date the AMC, the entire region, had its own historian.

The caption for this photo read "Slideboarding Among the Clouds to Beat The City Dailies".The slideboards were popular but dangerous "sleds" built to descend the tracks at blinding speeds.

In his "The AMC Forty Years Ago" talk Frank reeled off everything he'd noticed in from 1870 that was of historical importance regarding trails and exploration. After briefly noting the 1870 trip he continued, "by 1877 the Glen Path, Crawford Path and Davis Path were wholly forgotten, there were no trails on the northern peaks. I never saw even traces of the Gordon Path of 1860. Lowe's Path opened in 1876-1877, and, although there were trampers using it (Lowe's Path), we went a whole week in the summer of 1880 without seeing a single tramper that came up to the summit by way of the Northern Peaks. Vestiges of the Fabyan Path could be seen low on the mountain near the Cog base station at Marshfield. Traces of it could be found in 1907and 1915, maybe 3/4 of a mile in length. (This writer, in 2010 and 2011, found traces of the Fabyan Path in the form of switchbacks located at timberline and close to the Cog tracks.)

"Fishing parties, chiefly, were exploring the Great Gulf, occasionally brought up the Gulf by Ben Osgood from the Glen House, or he would bring them over the northern peaks.

"Major Raymond blazed the Raymond Path in 1860 but it was overgrown by 1870 and impassable. Not until 1879 was it opened to the foot of the Tuckerman Headwall.

"Pathless peaks in 1877 included the following: The Carters. Moat, Wildcat, Baldface-Eastman Range, Twin Mountain Range, Kinsmans, Garfield, Jackson, Webster,  Willey, Carrigain, Lowell, Anderson, and Osceola. Permanent Camps were unknown. Hermit Lake Camp built by Dr. W. B Parker of the AMC was one of first. Hermit Lake was then called Glen Lake.

"Dr. W. G. Nowell was the first Councillor [sic] of improvements (trails) and in 1877 reported progress on a path up Mt. Lowell and the beginning of the Carter Notch Path. The same year Dr. W. B. Parker made the Moat Path assisted by William L. and Charles P. Worcester. 1878 a path up Mt. Willey by Charles Lowe who also worked on a path up "Middle Mountain" (Middle Moat?) in North Conway. The 1878 Field Meetings were held at Fabyans and in North Conway. At the meeting Charles Fay began raising money for a path (The American Institute of Instruction Path) from Livermore to Waterville and up Carrigain. Parties from both the field meetings ascended Moat, Willey, and Carrigain.

"Dr. W. B. Parker was Councillor [sic] of Improvements. He reported the completion of the Carter Dome Path by Jonathan G. Davies, the Livermore-Waterville-Carrigain Paths, and a path to Crystal Cascades and Tuckerman Ravine from Pinkham Notch. Guests staying at Greeley's Inn in Waterville Valley cut a trail up Mt. Osceola. Field meetings in 1879 were held at Crawford, Waterville and Intervale.

"A. E. Scott was Councillor of Improvements in 1880-1882 and the field meetings were held in Plymouth, Fabyans and Jackson. At the Jackson meeting in 1881 it was announced that Ben Osgood had opened a trail in the Great Gulf from the Glen House to the Summit. J. Rayner Edmands was attending the Jackson meeting and he organized a party that tramped from Jackson through Carter Notch to the Glen House and up the new Great Gulf trail to the Summit.

"At the 1882 Field Meeting in Jefferson it was announced that the Watson Path had been completed by Laban Watson to the summit of Mt. Madison. In 1882 Dr. W. B. Parker was again Councillor of Improvements and announced the opening of a path over the Twin Mountain Range in conjunction with the new Twin Mountain House (1869). The new path was dedicated at June field meeting at the Twin Mountain House after which a large party of 30-40 club members went up North Twin and camped at a "New Camp" made by Charles Lowe on the 'slope of North Twin' and they tramped the next day over the entire range, camping that night at Bear Brook at the base of Mt. Bond. The next morning a dozen members of this party including several women plunged boldly into the Wilderness,  and came out at Willey House after nearly a week in the forest." (White Mountains 40 Years Ago, by Frank H. Burt, Vol. XIV, Appalachia, p 37).

This next section covers the AMC trails in the Great Gulf that were cut during Warren Harts' tenure as Councillor of Improvements in 1908-1910. There are, in Appalachia, hundreds of accounts that are worth bringing forward to the present and it's difficult to chose which have the most value. The following are some of my favorites.

Report of the Councillors for the Autumn of 1908
by Warren W. Hart

"New Paths: May 29-30 a trail was cut about the larger Carter Lake by George N.. Whipple and the Councillor.

"June 24-27 a path was constructed from Star Lake to the summit of Mt. Adams. [Ed: The Star Lake Trail on your maps]. This trail will enable visitors at the Madison Hut who ascend Mt. Adams via head-wall of King's Ravine to return on the easterly side of J. Q. Adams via Star Lake. The advantages of the Gulfside Trail for commencing the ascent are obvious, while the return by the new trail will be more sheltered from northerly and westerly winds. The view of Madiosn Ravine are wild and the midsummer cloud shadows on Osgood Ridge are very interesting during the descent by this route. The path was the result of a Club party (consisting of Dr. and Mrs. Ralph Larrabee, Miss Gertrude Newhall, Elbridge K. Newhall, and Horation Newhall, Jr.) with who the Councillors spent several very pleasant days at the Madison Hut. We were aided also, by Willis O. Evans, and Chester and Herbert Heath.

"September 13-18 a trail was constructed through the Great Gulf, the most important work of the year. The party consisted of George N. Whipple, Ralph C. Larrabee, Lawrence Strong, and the Councillor, spent the night of September 12 at the edge of the Gulf, on the north bank of the West Branch. On the morning of the 13th, disregarding superstition, we commenced work at the Osgood Path, nearly two miles from the Glen, and by nightfall had blazed a way to the crest of a bluff, ear the junction of the Madison Brook and the West Branch [Ed: West Branch refers to the West Branch of the Peabody River on your maps] which affords a remarkable view of Mt. Washington and the Northern Peaks. We named it the 'Proscenium', because the semicircular wall of mountains from this point at evening , seem but a few hundred yards distant. This view is destined to become famous. That evening we were joined by Chester and Leon Heath, two of the most efficient men employed by this department.

"On the following day we blazed our way across Madison Brook and entered a wide logging road on the north bank of the West Branch. We utilized this through all its diminishing stages until we reached its very beginning, a point where logging in the Great Gulf ceased many years since. At nightfall we left our path and tramped on to an excellent camping-place, a short distance below the junction of the Jeffferson Brook with the West Branch. Here we spent our third night in the open.

"On the 15th Dr. Strong was summoned by telegram to leave for Boston, thus reducing our party to five. We returned to the point where we had left our work of the day before, and blazed a trail through a delightful forest of virgin spruce and for the first time since leaving the Osgood Path cross the West Branch. At the point of crossing we discovered the old blazes marking the trail cut by B. F. Osgood in 1881, and now completely overgrown. We succeded in following these blazes, and druing the day completed our path as far as Jefferson Brook.

"On the following day Dr. Larrabee and Mr. Whipple ascended the precipitous side of Mt. Jefferson on an exploring trip, while we continue our path work through a extensive blow-down and past a high waterfall. A short distance farther on we reached the most beautiful waterfall in the Gulf, which we name 'Weetamoo Falls'.

"We were joined at nightfall by Messrs. Whipple and Larrabee, who reported that from the heights the Gulf appeared interminable, and that it seemed doubtful if we could complete our trail. They did not know, however, that in their absence we had advanced the path nearly one and on half miles. On the following morning we were fortunate in finding many good leads through the underbrush. It was our fifth day of toil, and we could devote only another half day to the work. Under the circumstances we were somewhat surprised and altogether pleased when, at 4 p.m., we reached a slight eminence and saw but a few hudred yards distant the beautiful, isolated Spaulding Lake. Here we passed our sixth night in the open.

"On the morning of the 18th we cut a trail about the lake, completed the main path to the head-wall of the Gulf, and there constructed a line of temporary cairns , completing the trail shortly after noon.

"In 1909 we hope to indicate, in an unmistakable manner, the point where the path joins the Gulfside Trail, a short distance below the summit of Mt. Washington; to build a line of permanent carirns on the head-wall; to construct a bark camp in the Gulf; and to cut a trail from the West Branch up the difficult wall of Mt. Jefferson, past the spot where the great drift of snow clings far into the summer, and into the Gulfside Trail [Ed: what would become the delightful Six Husbands Trail].

Report of the Councillors for the Year 1909
By Warren W. Hart

"During the season of 1909, the Department received, in it field work, the vigorous and efficient aid of twenty Appalachians, coming from six different states. New trails were constructed, extending our path posessions several miles, while independent path-builders did excellent work. Our expenditures were  $487.26, although the report of the Treasurer will show a slightly higher sum, as certain bills for the preceding year were not presented in time to be included in the acounts for the year 1909.

"Great Gulf Camp. Late in June Alexander Wilson, Harry  W. Pinkerton, and F. L, Steele, Jr., joined me on a working-trip in the Great Fulf. At Gorham we hired Delmont L. Heath, Willis O. Evans, and John B. Sanborn. We arrived on teh 27th and found that Dr. Ralph C. Larrabee and George L. Howard, who had preceded us by a day, has selected an admirable site for a permanent camp.

"On the 28th we commenced work on the new camp and completed it July 1. It is 10 X 16 feet; it is situated on the south bank of the West Branch, within a few feet of the trail; is about five miles from the Glen House and three from the summit of Mt. Washington; and will accommodate eight or ten persons. A small brook which flows near by furnishes excellent drinking water, while the West Branch is within a stone's throw. The location being protected by forests, we ventured to make the frame of the camp high enough for any one to stand erect at the front. It was constructed eight feet from the boulder, which serves as a fire shield, in order to avoid the smoke nuisance; and as well-equipped campers in the Gulf seldom have occasion to build a fire except for cooking purposes, it may discourage the keeping of a fire burning through the night. When the party is asleep, a fire is sometimes dangerous and, as a rule, is a waste of fuel. Many campers fail to see the objection to burning slash and deadfalls, but when this fuel is gone wood must be brought from a distance or the standing trees will be cut and the beauty of the camp site ruined, as in the case of hermit Lake Camp and Carter Notch Camp.

"Six Husbands Trail: On the 28th of June, 1908, Elbridge K. Newhall, Horatio Newhall, Jr, and myself, left the Gulfside Trail, went down the easterly slopes of Mt. Jefferson, over the great drift of snow, to the tip of the Knee and then down the sky-line of the ridge, into the Jefferson Ravine. We were so impressed with the scenery of this region that we began, immediately, to plan new trails for the benefit of the public. On the following day we chanced to meet Dr. P. M. Dawson, a summer resident of Randolph, and he suggested, without knowing of our journey of the previous day, that the Club construct a path from the Gulfside Trail to the tip of the Knee.

"On the 28th of June 1909, precisely one year after the earlier journey, I went over the same course in company with Dr. Ralph C. Larrabee, Alexander Wilson, and F. L. Steele, Jr. The sun was blazing down upon the peaks, but we ound the great drift eight hundered feet wide and three hundred feet long. It may be of interest to state that this drift had not entirely disappeared on July 27. We found that Dr. Dawson had done some path work between the Gulfside Trail and the tip of the Knee. Dr. Larrabee and myself spent considerable time in looking for a suitable course for the trail, and on June 29, with the aid of Mr. Wilson, the course was lined out for a half mile from the Great Gulf Trail, cross the West Branch and continuing through a charming forest to a stream flowing down Jefferson Ravine. On the following day, Wilson having returned home, Larrabee, Steele, Sanborn, Evans and myself  [Ed: Six Husbands] cut the trail as far as its course was indicated, but were obliged to leave it unfinished and take up another important work.

"On August 1 our second working party, including Harry W. Tyler, Frank H. Burt, F. Allen Burt [Ed: Frank H. Burt's son], Mr. Wilson, Mr. Steele, and Mr. Sanborn [Ed: again, six husbands] set to work on this trail. Later in the day we were joined by Dr. Dawson, who, in response to my invitation, spent two days in the work. Our course passed some great boulders, led through several caverns, and brought us to an interesting ledge. Here we constructed a rude ladder which answered our purpose very well. We called this Wilson Reach, because Mr. Wilson, with his great height and length of arm, could reach to the top of the first shelf. On the following day the same party, with the exception of Mr. Wilson, who returned home, completed the path to a point a few hundred yards below the tip of the Knee. On August 3 Mr. Sanborn and myself cut through the scrub, as far as the great drift, following , to some extent, the course indicated by Dr. Dawson. On August 4 Sanborn and I continue our work, and, with the aid of Steele and F. Allen Burt, constructed a line of cairns from the site of the great drift to the Gulfside Trail. This completed the new path, which is slightly less than two miles in extent."

Warren Hart lending a hand to Frank Allen Burt as they ascend one of the difficult sections of the Six Husbands Trail in 1910, shortly after the trail was completed. All photos used in this article were taken from Frank Allen Burt's The Story of Mt. Washington published by Dartmouth Publications, Hanover, NH., 1960

"We found ice in several caverns, but the (snow) drift had vanished, and in the depression it had occupied the buds of the flowers were just opening, for to them it was spring. From this spot during the latter part of July it was possible to stand beside thousands of tons of snow and see on one side the violets, and on the other side the grasses scorched brown as autumn.

"The party first to pass over the new trail included Eldredge H. Blood, Alice F. Blood, Jane F. Blood, and Robert E. Blood of Lyn, Caroline Taylor of Baltimore, and Frank A. Turnbull of Lynn. This was on August 4, and the last few hundred yards of trail had not been completed at this time.

[Ed: there's a final note, a question about the naming of The Six Husbands Trail. Various reporters have attributed the name to the so-called six husbands of Weetamoo, who was a powerful sachem of the Pocasset band of Algonkians in what is now Massachusetts. She actually only had five husbands. The most famous was named Wamsuttta. He was the oldest son of Massasoit the sachem, or chief, of the Wampanoag band. Warren Hart and crew named the falls in the Great Gulf, "Weetamoo Falls" and later, a new trail cut from the Auto Road down into the Great Gulf was named the Wamsutta Trail. One by one, they might all have been named as part of a theme that was popular at the time, or perhaps not. At that time people perhaps believed Weetamoo did have six husbands. On the other hand the Six Husbands Trail was made by six husbands working on it together, even though at times they were only five husbands and for a shorter time, they were seven husbands. For most of the time there were six husband working on the Six Husband Trail. Frustratingly,  Frank H. Burt in his "Nomenclature of The White Mountains" evades the issue completely and, for some mysterious reason, skips over Wamsutta, and Weetamoo, and why it was named the Six Husbands Trail.]

Adam Slide Trail: On the 29th of June, while Mr. Wilson and I were exploring Jefferson Ravine, we discovered a brook flowing out of the mountain-side. We decided that the mew path up Mount Adams should pass this spot and planned the course of the trailas afar as the foot of the great slide. On the following day Dr. Larrabee, with the aid of Steele, Sanborn,and Evans, marked the path up the series of slides neraly one half mile in extent and through the scrub to the bare creas of the long easterly ridge of Mount Adams.

"On July 31 this trail was completed by another party, including Rev. C. L. Lyons, C. L. Noyes, H. W. Tyler, George M. Weed, F. H. Burt, J. W. Sanborn, and myself. During the day Nature showered her attentions upon us in sow, hail, rain, warm sunshine and a cold penetrating wind.

"The trail is about one and three eights miles in length, is quite rough and difficult, but the ridge is desolate and magnificient.

"Season of 1910: During the coming season we hope to extend the Six Husbands Trail westerly, from the Gulfside Trail to the summit of Mount Jefferson, also to extend it easterly, from the Great Gulf to the Mount Washington Carrigage Road, and, probably, on through the Alpine Gardens [Ed: this work was never actualized].

"Independent Path Builders: On August 25 (1909)  Eldredge H. Blood commenced the construction of a path which descends from Star lake over the southerly side of the Parapet, continues along the lower slopes of Mount Adams, and joins the Adam Slide Trail at a point about one mile from the Great Gulf Camp. The path is nearly two miles in extent, and, for trampers carrying packs, will be the easiest route between the Gulf and the Madison Hut. Mr. Blood was aided in the work by other member of his family, and employed John H, Boothman and John Hayes. The trail was completed September 18, and reflects great credit upon Mr. Blood. It is interesting, is well supplied with water, and should become popular."

That is the extent of my canonizing of the early Club trail makers. At least for now. I think these vignettes of the more difficult and exciting trails help me, at least, fully appreciate the work involved in locating and constructing trails, and the trails themselves. Knowing who built them and when makes it less likely to take the trails for granted. It also tells us that these trail builders had something important to offer us which, for want of a better work, is the beauty of these mountains.

The End


Anonymous said...

Cool Blog! My family were the Barron's of Barron & Merrill Hotel Co. They owned and operated five Grand Hotels in Bretton Woods, including Crawford House, Fabyan House, and the Summit House on Mt. Washington. Their tenure on Mt. Washington ended in 1908, when the Summit buildings burned, along with the presses for "Among The Clouds".
Jack Boudreau

Alex MacPhail said...

Jack, Thanks for writing. I'm curious if you have photos or memorabilia you could share of the hotels, etc. They were all amazing places each in its own right. I remember some, like the Crawford House of the post WW II era, and the Twin Mountain House. I have a small post card collection featuring the hotels, but am hopelessly addicted to old photos of the north country as others are, I'm sure. Thanks again, Alex MacPhail.

Rich said...

Thanks so much for writing about F. Allen Burt, my grandfather, as well as my great and great-great grandfathers. Wonderful to see their writings and photos live on.
--Richard Burt Kent