Summit of Mount Washington

April 3rd, 2013 by Lindsay

The climb to the top of Mount Washington was the challenge many visitors set for themselves. Hiking, or tramping, became fashionable in the 1820s. Mount Washington has the oldest continuously used trail, built by Ethan Allen Crawford in 1819. Many more were to follow.


J.S. Hall and L.M. Rosebrook opened the Summit House in July 1852. It was a strong building with small dormitory-style boarding facilities, a larger dining hall for day guests, and walls four-feet thick to withstand the fierce Mr. Washington winds. The next year, Samuel Spaulding built the Tip-Top House with improved dining and kitchen facilities, and walls six-feet thick. The rival facilities offered similar accommodations, including beds filled with moss, separated from the kitchen facilities with heavy cotton drapes.

A toll road, which averaged four hours by coach, was completed from the Glen House to the summit of Mount Washington in 1861. First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln and her son Robert took the Carriage Road to the Tip-Top House on August 6, 1863. They liked the trip so much they repeated it the next day.

The newspaper Among the Clouds was published at the summit of Mount Washington from 1877 to 1917, except for a short suspension between 1908 and 1909 after a major fire on the summit.


Scientists and inventors were also captivated by the mountains. Starting in the 1830s, botanist Edward Tuckerman spent years studying lichen. Astronomer George Bond published the first topographical map of the White Mountains in 1853. Confounding the experts, Sylvester Marsh developed a cog railway for Mount Washington. When it was completed in 1869, travelers could reach the summit in just an hour and a half.