Iconic bird’s eye view of Mount Washington

Geo[rge] H. Walker & Co., Birds-Eye View from Summit of Mt. Washington; White Mountains, New Hampshire. Boston: Passenger Department of Boston & Maine R.R., 1902.
Chromolithograph, 26 ½”h x 26 1/8”w at sheet edge. Minor soiling and a few mended edge tears, particularly at right. Lined, largely obscuring printing on verso. Original pictorial pocket folder present but detached.
$950

A spectacular promotional bird’s-eye view of Mount Washington and the White Mountains, issued by the Boston & Maine Railroad.

By the early 20th century the Lakes and White Mountain regions of New Hampshire were major tourist destinations, with a well-developed network of hotels and resort towns and villages. With the proliferation of the automobile some years away, the only feasible means of reaching the region was by rail, particularly the lines of the Boston & Maine Railroad. Formed in 1842 by merger of smaller companies and ultimately encompassing numerous lines across northern New England, the Boston & Maine dominated the region’s rail travel for the next century.

Accompanying and advancing this development was a rich literature and visual iconography revealed in histories, tourist guides and promotional maps and prints, some-including this view of Mount Washington-published by the Boston & Maine Railroad itself.

The view centers on the summit of Mount Washington, depicting the famous “Tip Top House” and other structures, the vertiginous cog railway up the northwest slope, and the Stage Road from the Glen House. The summit is shown surrounded by a ring of clouds that sets it apart from the other peaks and imparts to it an almost Olympian stature. Shown in concentric circles falling away from the summit are the other major peaks of New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont, with numerous tiny towns and villages tucked into the valleys. Nearly two hundred landmarks, mostly peaks, are numbered and identified in legends around the outside of the view. Adam Apt has identified three states of the view, of which this is the 3rd, with 9 buildings on the summit and text on the verso.

This writer has summited Mt. Washington (on foot) any number of times, and there really is no substitute for “being there.” Through the use of a dramatic, disorienting perspective, however, this view could have conveyed to prospective visitors that their long journey thence would be well rewarded.

References
Apt, Maps of the White Mountains, p. 23.