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Telling the story of 200 years  of White Mountain History

                                    Passaconaway

                               The Albany Intervale


Map prepared by Bill Gove for his article on the Swift River Railroad. (Link below.)  Click on map for larger image. 

Passaconaway today is the site only of a Forest Service visitor center,  a few seasonal homes and a small cemetery.  For a short time, however, it may have had as many as 1,500 residents, making it perhaps the largest of the abandoned logging towns (Charles E. Beals, Jr., Passaconaway In The White Mountains).  Two logging railroads would  eventually serve the area.  Passaconaway, originally known as the Albany Intervale, was a small agricultural community until the Conway Lumber Company built the 26 mile Swift River Railroad in 1906.  Prior to the coming of the Swift River Railroad, there had been another short-lived logging operation, the Bartlett Lumber Company.  Its railroad, the Bartlett and Albany, existed from 1887-1894, running from the company’s mills in Bartlett to Passaconaway. At its peak, during the Conway Lumber years, the town had two schools, a lumber store, a company store, a post office, several boarding houses, and a number of small homes for employees.  The Conway Lumber Company bought the town’s hotel, The Carrigain House, to serve as its headquarters in the area.  By 1916, the company had completed its logging operations in the area and the railroad track, and many of the workers, were moved to other areas the company was logging.  The post office operated from 1892 to 1916.


 Passaconaway House, undated, Collection Adam J. Apt


                              Piper House, undated        

Within the Albany Intervale, there were three earlier settlements, also built around sawmills, but these were smaller mills and did not utilize railroads. One was known as Haskell’s and  “Albany’s Recollections”[1] includes a small map, c.1890, which shows the mill, boarding house, stable and about a dozen small houses.  The same volume includes a map of the Swift River Lumber Company’s “Allen’s Mill Settlement” c. 1888.  It shows a company store and several other buildings.  The largest sawmill settlement in the Intervale was Quint’s.  There were two mills, one of which was a hardwood mill, probably for bobbins.  There was also a school, a blacksmith shop, and a barn.  Virtually nothing remains of any of these communities or mills.  


     Colbath House with Original Barn and Shed, undated

One remaining building, the Russell-Colbath house is one of the few structures in the White Mountain National Forest to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was the home of Thomas and Ruth Colbath.  As the story goes, one evening in 1891, Thomas left the house, telling Ruth he’d be back shortly.  She never saw him again but she placed a lighted candle in a window every night-just in case.  She died in  1930 and is buried in a small cemetery on the property.  Thomas finally returned in 1933, saw that his wife was dead, wandered away again.  Ruth supported herself with a variety of small jobs.  She was Postmistress of Passaconaway for many years and farmed the land.


  Colbath House with Post Office Sign Above Door, undated

 

 



[1] A. Bernard Perry, Albany’s Recollections,  1976, Albany, NH

 

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