Best Base Lodge in Historical White Mountain National Forest
Most of our guests here at The Mountain Club on Loon are, understandably, smitten with the grand scenic beauty and rich outdoor recreation on tap in our big backyard of New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Much of that beauty and outdoor recreation fall within the venerable White Mountain National Forest.
What’s sometimes less obvious is the rich history contained within these mountains, and within that spectacular, 750,852-acre national forest: among the most popular recreation areas in the East. Learning a little of that history can deepen your appreciation of this magnificent region on your next Mountain Club getaway!
Historical Overview of the White Mountains
Archaeological evidence shows indigenous human occupation of the White Mountains for at least 10,000 years. The White Mountain National Forest includes some 21 identified Paleo-Indian sites, reflecting this deep Native heritage.
Indeed, the White Mountains continue to be an important landscapes for American Indian cultures such as the Abenaki, among them the Pennacook and Pequawket peoples. Conway, New Hampshire—a spectacularly scenic drive east of The Mountain Club on Loon—is named for the Pennacook leader Passaconaway, or “Child of the Bear.” His grandson, meanwhile, was Kancamagus, “the Fearless One,” who’s honored in the famous White Mountain scenic byway called the Kancamagus Highway, right at our doorstep here at The Mountain Club.
European explorers began making inroads into the White Mountains beginning in the mid-1600s. Widespread Euro-American settlement of the region came in the wake of the Revolutionary War, with clearing of forests for farms and pastureland.
But compared to much of New Hampshire, the White Mountains remained mostly timbered until the mid-1800s, when railroads made previously unfeasible widespread logging possible. This coincided with the same kind of extensive farm abandonment that took place across much of New England in the mid- to late 19th century.
Extensive lumbering and associated wildfires in the White Mountains led to calls for protection of the range’s forests. The Week’s Act, which allowed for the transfer of private lands into federal ownership to protect watersheds, resulted in the creation, in 1918, of the White Mountain National Forest.
Today, the Whites are again richly cloaked in diverse hardwoods and conifers. The forests are never so all-around stunning as in the season that’s just around the corner, fall, when some of the world’s best leaf-peeping goes down here.
Appreciating History in the White Mountains on a Mountain Club on Loon Getaway
From stone walls running through deep woods to numerous CCC structures in the national forest and vintage covered bridges such as the 1858-built Albany Bridge off the Kancamagus, many sites serve up tangible links to White Mountains history. But hiking or biking the trails, racing down the Loon Mountain slopes, or paddling the rivers and lakes, you can also sense further dimensions to this history, including the region’s Native cultures, even without obvious visible evidence.
Join us here at The Mountain Club on Loon, and immerse yourself in the splendor and the heritage of New Hampshire’s defining mountain range!