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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Crawford Notch, New Hamshire

This is a post card that posted to the mail on October 16, 1907. It is a picture of the Willey Brook Bridge in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The bridge and the brook are named after the Willey family who perished in a landslide in August of 1826.
On the bridge is a Mountain Division of the Maine Central Railroad train approaching the Crawford Notch span of 400 feet long and 94 feet high, between Mount Willey and Mount Willard. Through the gorge below flows a considerable stream, with all the wildness that characterizes mountain waters. At the farther end of the bridge the huge bulwark of Mt. Willard seems an impassable barrier, yet the shelf cut for the passage of trains appears diverging to the right. This shelf is not at the bottom of the valley by any means, but well up its granite side. Just across is the picturesque home of the railroad men who patrol these mountain paths constantly, to prevent disaster. The house has received the title "John O'Groats." I have no idea who the woman on this side of the bridge is; but, I am sure it is not the person who wrote the message on the post card.

Built as the Portland & Ogdensburg Railroad before acquisition by the Maine Central Railroad the line initially provided transportation for summer visitors to grand Victorian hotels, including the Bay of Naples Inn in Naples (reached by connection with Sebago Lake steamboats), the Crawford House in Crawford Notch, and the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods. Cool, clean air at Sebago Lake and the White Mountains provided a refreshing escape from the heat, humidity and smoke of 19th-century cities. Autumn foliage and winter skiing helped to extend the tourist season. The Flying Yankee train-set operated as the Mountaineer from Boston to Crawford Notch via Intervale Junction during World War II, but passenger service had been reduced to a single daily round-trip between Portland and St. Johnsbury by the 1930s. The train between Portland and St. Johnsbury usually consisted of a RPO-express car, a baggage car and a single coach after the 1920s; and substitution of a stainless steel combination for the coach and baggage car reduced the train to two cars for the last several years before the end of passenger service in 1958.

Today this rail and bridge are part of the Conway Scenic Railway. This is an excerpt from their website: ON THE NOTCH TRAIN, you’ll travel on what was once the Maine Central Railroad’s famed Mountain Division line, on tracks that were laid in the 1870s. Enjoy some of the most dramatic natural scenery in the East as you travel through spectacular Crawford Notch – past sheer bluffs, steep ravines, cascading brooks and streams, panoramic mountain vistas, across Frankenstein Trestle and Willey Brook Bridge – enroute to Crawford and Fabyan stations.

As you travel through this rugged terrain, you can begin to appreciate what a remarkable engineering achievement constructing this railroad was almost 140 years ago. Live commentary onboard includes history and folklore of the railroad and area, as well as points of interest.
Included in the excursion is a layover at Crawford Station, across from Saco Lake (a small pond from which the mighty Saco River originates), and adjacent to the AMC’s Highland Center. Passengers are encouraged to get off the train, stretch their legs, and explore their beautiful surroundings.

Coach seating and climate controlled First Class seating are available aboard the Notch Train. First Class options are the CP Reed or the Dome Car, Dorthea Mae, both originally built in the mid-fifties for transcontinental service in Canada and the United States, respectively. There are a total of 48 seats in the Dome Car: 24 in the Lower Dome, which is First Class seating, and 24 in the Dome itself, which is Premium seating.

I think we will have to add this to our bucket list!!

The post card is from a high school student to her grandmother. The message on the front side (above) is: “I have got a new fall hat it is real pretty. I don’t have much time to write am pretty busy most of the time but will write as often as I can. With love to all M. M.”
Remember that this post card was mailed about 6 months after they rescinded the rule that you could not write anything on the back of the post cards except the address. This young lady must have remembered her training well… Except, she also wrote on the back of the card! She tells her grandmother that she dropped Algebra and took up English History instead. She knows all the girls in the school now and they are awfully nice. She also went to a corn roast and had an awfully nice time.

The post card was printed in Germany for The Hugh C. Leighton Company out of Portland, Maine. This company only existed from 1906 to 1909; so we would have a good idea of the age of the post card without the postmark. They were a printer and major publisher of national view-cards, especially scenes of New England.
They printed most of their post cards in four distinct styles employing halftone lithography. Most used a simple soft yet highly recognizable RGB pallet. While some post cards were printed at their plant in the U.S. most were manufactured in Frankfort, Germany. Almost all their post cards were numbered. This post card is number 4 and it was printed in Frankfort, Germany. They merged with Valentine & Sons in 1909.

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