The Manuscript Notebooks of George P. Bond, 1850–1853

January 1, 2008

Appalachia, Winter/Spring 2008

Long lost, one notebook of field notes by the first White Mountain mapmaker has emerged in the AMC library.

At the third regular meeting of the Appalachian Mountain Club, on April 12, 1876, the president of the club, Professor Edward C. Pickering, described the work of Professor George P. Bond among the White Mountains and exhibited his manuscript notebooks. The minutes of the meeting state, “An account of these is reserved for the next number of Appalachia.” The account did not appear in the next issue.

This is the account, 132 years later than promised.

The early Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) was curious about Bond because he had published the first topographical map of the White Mountains. The AMC, at its outset, set itself the task of surveying the White Mountains  and creating a new map. Bond’s map was of such importance that the AMC voted, at the same April meeting, to name one of the White Mountains for him. Moreover, the tourist industry in the region had developed so far in the quarter-century since Bond’s survey that the notebooks offered the early AMC a view into what was already a lost world.

Bond’s map was first published by John Bartlett of Cambridge in July 1853 (This was probably the bookseller Bartlett who originated the Familiar Quotations.) The map was reprinted in 1856. Not only was it the first topographical map of the White Mountains; it was also the first map of any sort to label the Presidential peaks, even though the names had been bestowed 30 years earlier.

In an earlier article for another journal, I wrote about who Bond was, his intimacy with the White Mountains and continuing attachment to the region throughout his life, how he came to make the map, and the map’s influence and significance in White Mountains history. At that time, Bond’s notebooks were lost. I asked after them at various institutions, including the AMC library, but I held out little hope that they still existed. Now, one of the notebooks has turned up.  I will summarize what we know of Bond and the White Mountains and then attempt to give a fair account of the contents of the surviving notebook, which tells us much about the White Mountains at the time their popularity as a tourist destination was just taking hold and much of the region was still unfamiliar and undeveloped.

ADAM JARED APT is an investment manager in Cambridge. In addition to his financial training, he holds a doctorate in the history of science from Oxford University and has contributed articles on the subject for academic journals and reference books. He has solo-hiked New England’s Hundred Highest peaks. In 2006, he curated an exhibit of historic maps of the White Mountains for the Harvard University Library.

The full text of this story may be found in the Winter/Spring 2008 issue of Appalachia.

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