The White Mountains of New Hampshire are renowned for outdoor adventure and their fascinating ecosystems. Each season brings exciting changes in weather, plant life, recreational opportunities, and wildlife activity. But there is something that is often overlooked when visiting such beautiful, natural areas: the complex and interesting cultural history of the northern forests.
Pinkham Notch, located between the Presidential and Wildcat/Carter Mountain ranges, has an interesting and lively history, especially when the Appalachian Mountain Club started to frequent the area.
Founded in 1876, the Appalachian Mountain Club is America’s oldest nonprofit conservation and recreation organization. Professor Edward Pickering of MIT invited other Boston area academics to join a group focused on adventuring and exploring in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The idea behind the development of the AMC was a sign of the times- during the late 19th century there was an increased interest in “noble pursuits of the outdoors”, influenced by a combination of popular writers and artists of the era. John H. Spaulding’s book, Historical Relics of the White Mountains, published in 1855 and “Adirondack” Murray’s Adventures in the Wilderness, published in April of 1869, are two works that peaked the interest in outdoor recreation.
In 1888, the AMC built a shelter in a col between the summits of Mt. Adams and Madison. Madison Spring Hut was the first building constructed by the club as well as the first High Mountain Hut (pictured right). Lake of the Clouds Hut would follow in 1915, near the sight of the Crawford Path Shelter, built about 10 years before.
Shortly after the establishment of the White Mountain National Forest in 1918, the AMC built two cabins (1920) in Pinkham Notch (pictured below).
The increase in popularity of the burgeoning “hut system” (there were 3: Madison, Lakes of the Clouds, and Carter Notch), required a “base of operations”.
In 1922 Joseph B. Dodge (pictured in the apron) was hired as the summer hutmaster for Pinkham Notch and in 1926 Joe and the AMC decided to keep the Notch open year round to accommodate both hikers and skiers. In 1928 the AMC appointed Joe Dodge as Huts Manager (on top of his responsibilities in Pinkham) and the desire was to expand the hut system, which would eventually total 8.
Under Joe Dodge’s leadership, Pinkham Notch became the focal point for AMC operations in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Joe Dodge’s legacy for this organization and Pinkham Notch is extreme; he was highly regarded for his mountain hospitality, a tradition that the AMC carries on to this day!
Interested in learning more about the history of the Appalachian Mountain Club? Visit our web-site (www.outdoors.org) or call 603-466-2727 for information about special cultural history programming at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center and the Highland Center.
***all pictures are from AMC files***