Boardman’s guide to the White Mountains of New Hampshire, with stellar provenance

Harvey Boardman / Engraved by Smith, Knight & Tappan, A COMPLETE AND ACCURATE GUIDE TO AND AROUND THE WHITE MOUNTAINS, Illustrated with Maps. Boston: Crosby, Nichols, & Co., 1859.
26pp plus two folding lithographic maps (14 ¾”h x 13”w and 20”h x 21 ¾”w at neatline). Gilt-stamped red-cloth covers. Each map with “Profile House” inscribed in ink on verso, with prominent show-through to recto. Otherwise an excellent copy of a fragile volume.

An early guide to travel to and around the White Mountains of New Hampshire, with provenance to the Profile House hotel in Franconia Notch and to renowned collector Doug Philbrook.

By the mid-19th century the transmission of the Romantic ethos across the Atlantic, the rise of a middle class with disposable income, the development of rail links to the coast, and works of literature such as Willey’s Incidents in White Mountain History (1856) transformed the region into a major destination for tourists and artists. Publishers began to serve this emerging market with a flood of pamphlets, guide books, maps, broadsides and prints.

Harvey Boardman’s Complete and Accurate Guide to and Around the White Mountains is a fine example of this new genre. Boardman (1833-1863) was a surveyor and engineer residing in Griswold, Connecticut, well connected in scientific circles and eminently qualified to produce a guide book of the region. According to an article in the Cambridge Chronicle, he conducted surveys in the White Mountains throughout 1857, and that year he participated in an expedition up the hitherto-unexplored Mount Carrigain in the company of geologist Arnold Guyot, lithographer J.H. Bufford, and others. (Appalachia, vol. 11, p. 230)

The first section of the Guide provides would-be travelers with detailed descriptions for reaching the White Mountains by train and/or steamer from Boston, New York, Montreal and Quebec. A second section describes a dozen sightseeing routes in the White Mountains themselves, ranging from a tame rail journey from Plymouth to the Profile House to a more demanding climb of Mount Washington by horseback or on foot. Along the way there is much helpful commentary about natural wonders to be enjoyed, lodging and dining options, and the like.

The Guide includes two folding maps by Boardman. The first, “Railway Map of Routes to the White Mountains” (14 ¾”h x 13”), depicts rail and steamer routes to the region from all the major Northeastern cities as well as Montreal. Of greater interest is the latter, “Map of the White Mountains New Hampshire from Original Surveys”. Designed for the tourist market, the map shows roads and “carriage ways”, the major peaks and other natural sights, and places of lodging. To enhance its both its marketability and utility, the map is adorned with two tables of distances and nine vignette views of local lodging places in their splendid mountain settings.

The White Mountains map was originally issued in pocket-map format, in which Boardman asserted that “he has carefully surveyed, by course and distance, every stage road in the vicinity of the Mountains, noting down the principal rivers, lakes, mountains, villages, hotels, &c.” What he apparently did not do is ascertain elevations; for these he largely borrowed (without proper credit) from George Bond’s 1853 map, departing from Bond’s elevations in just one case: he gives Mount Washington as 6285 feet, in contrast to Bond’s rounded 6300.

Both maps bear the inscription of the Profile House, a hotel opened in Franconia Notch in 1853, located roughly between what is now the Cannon Mountain parking area and the Old Man of the Mountain Memorial Plaza. From simple beginnings the Profile House grew and grew, by the addition of new wings as well as a large number of outlying cottages. The venture was sufficiently successful that in 1872 the owners had the wherewithal to build the Profile and Franconia Notch Railroad to connect the hotel with Bethlehem Junction. The Profile House burned in 1923, by which time it could accommodate 500 guests and was one of the most luxurious of the White Mountain hotels.

This Guide was formerly in the stock of ABAA members J & J Hanrahan, who asserted that was previously owned by the late Douglas Philbrook, long-time manager of the Mount Washington Auto Road and White Mountains collector extraordinaire.

A beautiful copy of an important, early guide to the White Mountains, with superlative White Mountains provenance.           

Bent, Bibliography of the White Mountains, p. 5. OCLC 11131839 et al. For Map of the White Mountains see Apt, Maps of the White Mountains of New Hampshire, #15 (state 2) and Cobb, New Hampshire in Maps to 1900 An Annotated Checklist, #244 (state 1). Some background on Boardman and his map from the Cambridge Chronicle July 10, 1858, p. 2.