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.