Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Pond Water Ice Cream

With the recent heat waves, we have all been searching for a way to "chill out." I have been finding refreshment by examining old maps to savor a favorite taste of summer (mine is blueberry basil flavor). It is one of the ways I have been celebrating National Ice Cream Month. 

But what does this have to do with pond water as my blog title suggests? Well, take a look at the image above from the 1908 Sanborn insurance map from the collection of the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room (click on images to enlarge them). Can you find the three ice houses on the map that were once within a short distance from the library? (Hint: all are small wood frame buildings - indicated by the yellow color code - and located away from the street behind the main buildings. Two are associated with dwellings and one with a hotel).

The Conway Public Library is easy to find by its red color, representing brick. However, if you look closely at the library you will also find part of it with blue and the yellow. To find out why, see our previous blog here.

We will examine more on how these traditional ice houses worked and historic ways to make ice cream later, but where did the ice come from? To find the potential likely source of the ice for these ice houses let's go down the street and around a couple corners. Unfortunately, the 1908 map does not show this area, so let's jump ahead in time see it on our 1923 Sanborn insurance map.

The areas covered on the map are numbered and colored coded on the index page.The 1923 Sanborn map shows two ice houses on the shore of Pequawket Pond (note north is towards the left on this view of the map).

Early next month, the Upper Saco Valley Land Trust will present a couple related programs exploring Pequawket Pond. For more information see the links here and here

Here is a detail of the image above.

... and even closer detail.

Notice the grey shading around the outside of the ice house on the right.
According to the "Key" printed on the map, gray represents "iron" indicating that the building was sheathed in "iron" or tin.

In another version of the map, a "paste over" shows that the two ice houses were replaced or merged to become one larger one with conveyors suggesting that the operation was modernized.


Even closer detail.

Even though modernized, much of the industry continued to use simple, traditional tools. These techniques are presented each winter at numerous locations throughout New England, including at the Remick Farm Museum in Tamworth. The traditional ice harvesting process was also featured in the beginning of the first movie Frozen.

In the library's 1929 version of the Sanborn maps an ice cream mfg. (manufactory) shows up not far from the Conway Public Library in 1929.

Here you can see that building in the bottom left corner of this detail of the map and its relation to the "four corners" intersection of this detail of the map.  

Here is a "zoomed" out version.

For more information on your local history contact us at the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Happy National Forest Week (July 13 - 19, 2020) from Devil's Den

Happy National Forest Week (July 13 - 19, 2020). For how to celebrate see this link. For one thing, you can not celebrate it by hiking down to the base of this waterfall. A recent article in the Conway Daily Sun notes that it was closed today as part of the work being done by the White Mountain Trail Collective. However, you can virtually visit the waterfall through the Glen Ellis Falls Gallery on the website White Mountain Art and Artists. You can see the falls depicted under different light and liquid conditions.

By coincidence I also came across two articles today that provided some interesting insights into this holiday. The first was in a recent Smithsonian Magazine about the "invention of hiking" and the forest trails in Fountainbleau. See the link here. The second was in a recent New Hampshire Magazine about the famous Limmer Boots. You can read it here.

Some of the photos in the Smithsonian article reminded me of Diana's Baths and the Cathedral both visually and etymologically. For info on the "Cathedral" see my previous blog here.

Now we can move from heaven to hell. During the 19th century another popular tourist attraction was to be found at the base of Cathedral Ledge. Here is a stereoview from the interior of Devil's Den by Conway's own N. W. Pease from the collection of the Conway Historical Society.

Below are a series of photos and paintings from various collections that may help determine the mysterious location of the Devil's Den. The photo below is from the collection of the Museum of the White Mountains. You can read more about it at this link.

Below is a cropped version edited for brightness and contrast to better view the features and details.

A detail of the bottom of this photo shows from left to right, a horse drawn mountain wagon, a set of stairs, a shed of some sort, the opening to the Devil's Den, a man in a pith helmet, a camera on a tripod, a ladder, and another man in a pitch helmet (click on images to enlarge them).

The person sitting on top of the large rock above the opening to the Devil's Den shows the sense of scale.

In 1887, Winfield S. Nevins explains that a "Hermit Hapgood" would lead you into the Devil's Den with a pitch-pine or smoky birch-bark torch. You can read about it here. In his 1942 recollections, George Russell relates a similar story about the hermit. You can read about it here.

The bottom section of a painting at the New Hampshire Historical Society by Thomas Hill matches up quite well with the photo above.

Here is the entire painting.

You can learn more about it here.

Asher B. Durand did two paintings of Cathedral Ledge. One can be found at the Albany Institute here

While Durand's paintings are from slightly different angles than the images above many of the details are relatively easy to match up with Peg Immel's 1993 poster from our previous blog here.

Another Asher B. Durand, in a private collection, includes an artist sketching with a well dressed lady admiring the view. This image can be found on the White Mountain Art website here.

For more on the story contact us at the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Cathedral Ledge

This poster of Cathedral Ledge is on display this summer in the Conway Public Library's Henney History Hall. It is the first object you will see at the bottom of the stairs on the left. 

Here is another view (click on images to enlarge them).

To learn more about the site see our entry on theclio website at this link. You can access this on your smart phone and it can lead you to the site.

Back to the poster. The artist's signature and date can be seen at the bottom right corner of the side view (P. Immel 1993).

Peggy now lives and works out west. You can read more about her and her work on her website here. She graciously gave us permission to post her work on this blog. You can purchase a copy of the print at as well as other books, maps and climbing gear at the International Mountain Equipment (IME) website or their store in North Conway.

The print also credits the publishers Lewis & Yardley.

According to Rick Wilcox at IME, these guys were early IME folks. Note that a portion of the proceeds goes to the Access Fund. You can read more about their work at their website here. You can read about some of their work on Cathedral Ledge at this link.

The panel to the right of Peggy's delicate and detailed line and wash view lists the rock climbing trails that are noted on the print (click on image to enlarge it).

Note the interesting names that describe these vertical trails. Below the main image is a view of the ledge as if seen from the top (aerial view) that is lined up to you can compare the two viewpoints and help map out the access to the trails. 

Cathedral Ledge is named for a feature that has an interesting history. It is noted on this print as #38. Here is a detail. 

While it was featured in many 19th century guidebooks and photographs, unlike some other features of this cliff that can be seen in the print such as the prow and the talus slope, there are no 19th century paintings of the Cathedral that I know of. For some White Mountain paintings showing the ledges see my previous blogs here, here and here and this White Mountain Art and Artists gallery here and here.

Here is a written description of the Cathedral and the Devil's Den from a tourist guidebook published in 1876. For a story with local interest on some of these guidebooks see our previous blog here.

Many of the photographic images of the Cathedral are from basically the same viewpoint including a stereo view published by Albert Bierstadt and his brothers from 1875.

There is a copy of this book at the New Hampshire Historical Society. It actually has the stereo viewer built into the cover of the book.

Here is a single image of the Cathedral from the Bierstadt book.

Here is my attempt to recreate the Bierstadt vantage point.

According to tradition, folks brought a foot powered pump organ and held church services up here.

The Cathedral is just an easy to moderate 5 minute walk on the yellow blazed trail from this sign. When you reach the wall of the ledge at the top of the sloping trail, the Cathedral will be just a few steps to your left.

The sign is on Cathedral Ledge Road 5/10 of a mile from the turn off on West Side Road. See a Google map here.

There are a number of trails linked together that you can explore if you are not a rock climber.


Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Frost Heaves

New Hampshire's 5th season is here! The period between late Winter to early Spring can be bumpy in New England and traditionally, while muddy, we take it on with a dry sense of humor.

The Norman Rockwell painting above is one of his four freedoms series. Freedom as they say, is not free, nor is it always a smooth ride. However it can be funny.

I understand there is a bit of politicking going on this time of year? 

This past Monday night was the Conway school deliberative meeting. According to today's Conway Daily Sun, "It was the shortest meeting on record since Conway switched to the SB 2 form of school meetings in 2001, adjourning after just 40 minutes, to easily top last year's 57-minute meeting. Another record set was the lowest attendance in the SB 2 era, with just 49 voters seated in Loynd Auditorium at Kennett High School (not including the 15 people in the reserved section for school personnel)."   

Tonight Conway holds its deliberative town meeting. Last night, the Conway Public Library hosted Rebecca Rule's program, "Moved and Seconded: Town Meeting in New Hampshire" with support from New Hampshire Humanities. If you missed the program check their schedule here and if you are interested in booking a program through them see the link here.

But don't expect the Norman Rockwell version of town meeting as seen in the painting above tonight. For more on this famous painting see this link.

We found out last night that Rebecca has a slightly different take on town meeting. Her program is based on her book.

In it Rule regales her audience with stories of the rituals, traditions, and history of town meeting, including the perennial characters, the literature, the humor, and the wisdom of this uniquely New England institution.

Tis the season ... This wry wit can be seen in the New England character. I remember years ago when I greeted someone with a typical comment on how nice a day it was one late winter thaw day like yesterday in the sixties, and the reply was "yeah guess we'll have to pay for it" and sure enough the next day I learned about frost heaves.

One yankee humorist, Fred Marple, has actually taken the term Frost Heaves for his bit, see his facebook here and his website here.

For even earlier humorists see our previous blog on mud season here.

Here is some of the scientific basis to frost heaves...

... but that is not as fun as complaining about the season and its cancelled dog sled races, posted roads, politicians and black flies 

However, there is a sweet side, a golden lining if you will, and it has already started, it is now sugar season. To get you in the mood for that, the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room offers a free outreach program to schools and community groups that explores the history and traditions of a typical sugaring off party. It compares how maple sugaring has been done over the years from Native American, Colonial settlers and how it has changed up through today's modern methods.

For more details on this or any other historical subject in the White Mountains, contact us at the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Bob's Way or the Highway

Yesterday's CBS Sunday Morning Show had a feature on Bob Moore, founder of Bob's Red Mill. You can read about it at this link. The article tells us that "Moore was in his 50s in Southern California working at gas stations and auto centers when, on a whim, he walked into a library, and picked up a book that would change the course of his life. "I still read this about three times a year," he said.

The book, "John Goffe's Mill" (published in 1948), tells the story of a man in New Hampshire who, without any prior experience, purchased and rebuilt an old grain mill. It inspired Moore to do the same."

Of course, you can find this book at the Conway Public Library as well as its follow up book, John Goffe's Legacy, also by George Woodbury.

The mill site has been graced with a state highway marker (click on image to enlarge it).

And a number of research papers available online. More details can be found in this report here and here.

I did a little internet searching and discovered that there are more recent chapters to this story. It is a story of resilience in the face of drastic change. The mill site has recently been surrounded by development and roads.

You can see the mill site surrounded by highways, malls and apartments. 

But history and tradition provide continuity in a world of change. The Whole Foods store there pays tribute to the area's history. Whole Foods stands on what use to be a beautiful (and some say haunted) hotel back in its day - the Sheraton Wayfarer Inn. They have included a beautiful tribute wall to the John Goffe’s Mills and Inn. All of the wood paneling and tables in their eating area are made out of beams from the original hotel. See this blog here

A story in the NH Business Review relates how Goeffe's mill bridge was saved from destruction here. The bridge mover is part of the Graton family that recently moved a covered bridge from Storyland to Kennett High School using oxen and pulleys.

Did you know that the Pillsbury Baking Company had its origins in Conway? 

One way to learn more about mills and manufacturing in the Mount Washington Valley is to join us next month in our Olli class. For more info see this here.

This Bob has his own bobblehead and not long ago he won the coveted Golden Spurtle award. See the news here. If only I could be such a lucky Bob!

For more details on this or any other historical subject in the White Mountains, contact us at the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room.