Telling the story of 200 years  of White Mountain History
                              1904 Automobile Tour

   H. N. Turner. Bird’s-Eye View of the White Mountains New Hampshire: Automobile Gala Week in the White Mountains, July 11 to 16, 1904.  No scale given. 

                        Courtesy Mt. Washington Observatory 


This map is a ludicrous but charming representation of the White Mountain terrain. It also has a curious and obscure publishing history.  The map itself bears the copyright H.N. Turner and the date 1880 in the lower right edge of the image of the mountains, and in the lower left, the name H. M. Snyder of Philadelphia, presumably the printer. The automobile route is a 1904 superimposed image on the earlier base map. This earlier version had appeared, without the auto route, as a flyer from the Boston and Maine Railroad under the heading, “Pure Air—Pure Water—Health and Comfort: In the Balsam Forests of NORTHERN NEW HAMPSHIRE,” and with additional marginal text promoting the attractions of the region.  Given that the Boston and Maine extended its reach throughout the White Mountains in 1887, we must conclude that this version post-dates that year, and that 1880 represents a yet earlier version, unknown to this author.


But there exists a much larger version of the same image, with no date, published with the copyright of G.W. Morris, of Portland, Maine.  This presumably dates from no later than 1880, because this larger view, printed much more clearly (and with a light green tint), must be the source of the versions that bear that year of publication.  This larger view was sold folded in a stiff paper cover that bears the legend, “The Most Perfect Map Ever Issued,” a photograph of the Old Man of the Mountain, and the price, 25 cents. The map itself bears the title, “Birds Eye View of the White Mountains.”  It was printed by Brooks Bank Note and Lith’g. Co., and the dimensions are 43.8 x 70 cm. Unlike the smaller versions, the large one has its title outside the rectangular image, and therefore Squam Lake and a portion of Lake Winnipesaukee appear at the bottom center. The numbered key is similar, but no. 29, Mount Surprise, is missing from the small maps and is present on the large one, and the key proceeds up to no. 52, with the Presidential peaks included.  That missing no. 29 is another clue that the 1880 small versions were drawn up later than the large one. Moreover, on the large map, there is no mention of the Boston and Maine Railroad; the principal identified railroads are the Maine Central and the Concord & Montreal.  On the smaller maps, in contrast, the B&M does appear, and additional lines are shown.


The automobile gala drew motor enthusiasts from around the country, including the heads of the major automobile clubs. There were even a couple of motorcycle participants. Among the Clouds, the newspaper printed on the summit of Mount Washington, covered the event extensively, starting with an article on Tuesday, July 12, headlined, “A Day of Record Smashing: Opening of Great Automobile Meet.”. The event included two days of races up the carriage road to the summit of Mount Washington. The first automobile ascent of Mount Washington had taken place on 31 August 1899, when Mr. F. O. Stanley drove a 6-horsepower Stanley steamer up in 2 hours 10 minutes, using two gallons of gasoline. (Stanley steamers had a large carbon footprint.) On Monday, July 11, the first day of the 1904 event, Mr. F. E. Stanley, his twin brother and business partner, set a new record of 31 minutes 41 2/5 seconds for the ascent, also in a 6-horsepower Stanley steamer. According to Among the Clouds, the spectators cheered him with, “ON, Stanley, ON!” The next day, he bettered this at 28 minutes 10 2/5 seconds, but he was bested by the overall winner of the event, Mr. Harry Harkness, who drove his 60-horsepower Mercedes up in just 24 minutes 37 3/5 seconds. Besides the race to the summit, there were two races around the White Mountain region, one of 65 miles, the other an endurance run of 95 miles, whose routes are shown on this map. The schedule was rearranged from the one announced on the bottom of the map: The shorter run was moved from Saturday the 16th to Thursday the 14th, and the 95-mile run was moved from the 15th to the 16th.  Sixteen automobiles took part in the latter.


Among the Clouds commented: “The Glen stables were truly witnessing the passing of an old epoch. Instead of the hundred horses which made the Milliken regime in the mountains an important era in the history of the carriage road, the stalls were crowded with motor carriages of every description, from the seemingly puny runabouts to the ponderous touring cars of mighty horsepower.” (Charles R. Milliken was the well-known owner of the Glen House, in its various incarnations, from 1871 to 1901.)                           

Click here for a larger PDF version of this map that will allow you to zoom in for detail.

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