Abel Crawford Courtesy Conway Library
It's safe to say that one cannot begin to talk about White Mountain history without giving the three generations of the Crawford family a great deal of credit. They were just about the first settlers in Crawford Notch; they provided food and shelter for early travelers, they built the first roads and turnpikes, they opened paths to the summit of Mt. Washington as early as 1819, and they guided hundreds of early visitors safely up the mountains. In spite of their place in history, they appear not to have been astute business men and most of their ventures turned out to be financial disasters. Their story is fascinating and the full scope of their contribution is just now coming to light.
Abel Crawford's Mt. Crawford House, c.1870
Abel Crawford was the first to settle in what was then
known as the White Mountain Notch, in about 1793.
Eleazar Rosebrook, his father-in-law, soon followed and
Abel moved 12 miles south to Hart's Location, at the
Bartlett end of the Notch. His son, Ethan Allen Crawford,
inherited the Rosebrook farm at the time of Rosebrook's
death in 1817.
Both Rosebrook and Abel Crawford provided shelter and accommodations for early travelers in the Notch. Early
travel journals discuss the accommodations. Ethan
continued taking in travelers. In 1819, he started guiding
visitors up Mt. Washington and built the first path up the
mountain. Ethan and his father, together built the Notch
House (pictured at the top of this page) in 1828, and
Ethan's brother Tom was installed as the manager. The
Crawford family, at that point, become the first of the hotel
chain owners, with three taverns along the twelve miles of
All three Crawfords were instrumental in the construction of
the roads through the Notch. Their journals and day books,
just now coming to light, are full of references to work on the
Cherry Mountain Road, the Tenth New Hampshire Turnpike,
the Littleton Turnpike and the Jefferson Turnpike In addition
to actually building portions of these roads, each also owned
stock and participated in managing these roads.
As mentioned earlier, their efforts did not bring financial
security. Ethan was jailed for debt and lost his property.
Abel's large farm and Mt. Crawford Tavern were foreclosed on a few years after his death.
The story of this family, and their contribution to the White
Mountains will be told in more detail shortly.
Ethan Allen Crawford Grave site.
It's just off the road to the Base Station of the
Cog Railway. Lucy is buried next to her husband.
Abel Crawford, and his wife Hannah are buried at
Notchland, the remarkable granite mansion, at the southern
end of Crawford Notch. Notchland, now an Inn, was the
former home of Dr. Samuel Bemis.
Lucy Crawford's "History of The White Mountains" was published in 1846 and been reprinted a number of times since. It's the basic reference on the Crawford family, although essentially concentrating on her husband, Ethan Allen Crawford.