DescriptionCreated when the Pleistocene ice sheet pushed through a narrow preglacial pass, majestic Crawford Notch stretches from Bartlett on the south to Saco Lake on the north. The Saco River and US 302 wind along its floor between steep, wooded Webster and Willey mountains. Behind Mount Webster rises Mount Jackson, the southernmost peak of the Presidential Range.
The scars of many landslides mark the mountainsides. In 1826 a landslide thundered down Willey Mountain, killing the fleeing family whose name the peak bears, but sparing the family's home. The event is recounted in “The Ambitious Guest,” one of Nathaniel Hawthorne's “Twice-Told Tales.” Near the site of the Willey House is the headquarters for Crawford Notch State Park, which embraces much of the notch; phone (603) 374-2272.
The Willey Slide also disrupted the Tenth New Hampshire Turnpike, one of a series of roads that laced the notch following Timothy Nash's discovery of the gap during a 1771 hunting expedition. Spurred by the governor's promise of a land grant if Nash could bring a horse through the notch, the hunter and a companion hauled the animal up and down the rocks by ropes.
As improvements made the route passable for freight traffic, the turnpike became instrumental in the opening of New Hampshire's North Country. Promptly repaired after the 1826 landslide, the road served as a channel for commerce until the railroad crossed the notch in 1875.
Things to SeeArethusa Falls
GEM DescriptionThis mountain pass captures the natural beauty of the Presidential Range with its many majestic waterfalls.