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Saturday, March 8, 2014

A Trip to New Hamshire

This post card shows a steam engine coming around the corner in the Crawford Notch. Crawford Notch is the steep and narrow gorge of the Saco River in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It was discovered in 1771 by Timothy Nash.
Although it was originally called the White Mountain Notch, it is called CRAWFORD notch today because it drains toward the Crawford Brook watershed. The brook was named after Abel Crawford, an early explorer and settler from the late 1700s and early 1800s.

This hand drawn map gives you a general idea of where Crawford Notch is in New Hampshire.

The White Mountains were heavily logged from about 1875 to 1925 or so. Logging activity was always an invitation to build railroads. And, sure enough, four railroads provided the logging services in this area of New Hampshire: the Little River Railroad, the Saco Valley Railroad (1875 – 1898), the Sawyer River Railroad (1867 to 1927), and the Zealand Valley Railroad (1885 – 1897). I am not sure which one is represented in the picture on the front of this post card. It might even be from the Boston, Concord and Montreal Railroad.

You can see a sign in the bottom right hand corner of the picture that says, “THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT”.
The following is taken from the website:

The "Hermit of Crawford Notch" was 85 years old when he died on April 24, 1912 and his obituary appeared in the New York Times. He was known at all as English Jack; his real name was Jack Vials. Not a whole lot is known about Jack. He lived in a ramshackle home that he built himself and called his "ship". It was close to the Crawford House and apparently there was a path to his house from the railroad tracks at the Gate of the Notch. Postcards show the track and a sign indicating that Jack lived there. He was well known to tourists who frequently visited. He entertained his visitors with stories of his seafaring days and he sold them some of his homemade beer.

It makes me think of the Children’s Tale “The House that Jack Built”. He served beer, which takes malt to make, probably attracted rats, he might have kept a cat to control the rats, etc. Alas, it is not based on this Jack. It was first published in 1755, so the story wasn’t based on his home. The title to his home was based on the Tale.

The number 1613 is written in the bottom right hand corner below the sign.

I presume that this means that this was the 1,613th post card published by J. V. Hartman and Company. Hartman was a photographer that published his images of New England views as monochrome and color postcards. His company existed from about 1910 to 1920. That is why this post card is from the Divided Back Era (1907 – 1915). Judging by the post card number on front and the given years, we can date this post card to between 1910 and 1915.

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If you know anything about the history of the cards, the trains or the locations, please add them.