Mt. Washington Auto Road Celebrates Its 145th Birthday

August 04, 2006 (PRLEAP.COM) Travel News
Pinkham Notch, NH - On Tuesday, August 8, 2006, the Mt. Washington Auto Road will celebrate its 145th birthday. As the oldest man-made attraction in America, the Mt. Washington Auto Road has delivered people from all over the world to the 6,288 ft. summit, the tallest peak in the Northeast. The rich history of the Road is captured in the Red Barn Museum, which showcases many of the diverse and colorful vehicles that have traveled the Road. And, as it has since 1861, the Auto Road will be open for trips to the summit.

On August 8, vehicles with a This Car Climbed Mt. Washington bumper sticker attached prior to arrival will receive a free passage up the Road.

The rich history of the Mt. Washington Auto Road began in 1853, a year after the first summit house was built. The New Hampshire State Legislature granted General David Macomber of Middletown, CT, the charter for the Mt. Washington Road Company, and Macomberís grand plan envisioned horse-drawn omnibuses on the Road, a massive hotel and observatory. Work on the road began a year later, in the summer of 1854.

Constructing the Road was an immense task. The nearest source for supplies was eight miles away and transportation was either by horse, oxen, or on the backs of laborers. Even in Mt. Washington's horrendous weather, men worked 10 to 12 hour days. Exhausted, they would then return to their primitive shanties or tents. It was a time when dynamite was unknown, black powder was the explosive, and blasting holes were all drilled by hand. In addition, there was no machinery to handle the immeasurable tons of rock and gravel that had to be cleared.

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Work progressed until the halfway point was reached in the fall of 1856. Money had depleted and the effort was immediately halted. In 1859, a new company, the Mount Washington Summit Road Company, was formed and was able to resume work; the same year the first tolls were collected for passage to the Halfway House. Shortly thereafter, the Road to the summit was completed and the gala opening was held on August 8, 1861. The automobile age had begun on the Road in 1899 with an ascent by the Stanley Steamer, and it was in 1912 that the first motorized stage appeared, a second-hand Thomas Flyer. Original vintage stages, both horse-drawn and motorized, are on display daily at the Red Barn Museum, located adjacent to the base of the Auto Road, free and open to the public.

Since then, except when gasoline shortages intervened, the history has seen one of steady growth, 3,100 private cars in 1935, 6,600 in 1955, and 12,800 in the Road's 100th anniversary year, 1961. And, over 40,000 in recent years.

The Mt. Washington Auto Road is located on Rt. 16 in Pinkham Notch, New Hampshire, eight miles south of Gorham, New Hampshire. For more information about the Auto Road and itís many seasonal activities, visit www.MtWashingtonAutoRoad.com or call, 603-466-3988.