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.