Automobiles in the Whites

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  • Automobiles in the Whites

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Automobiles in the Whites


Bethann Weick




Passing Through: The Allure of the White Mountains

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When we think of “Passing Through” the mountains, perhaps it is easy to focus on the history of hiking and exploration within the Whites. But the advent of the automobile dramatically changed how people experienced the mountains. Rather than month-long vacations to grand hotels from which the majestic and adventurous landscape of mountains could be enjoyed as vacationers so chose, automobiles allowed for much quicker entrances and exits to and from the White Mountains. Indeed, “weekend warriors” would not be possible without the rapid transportation of automobiles.

Perhaps the most significant change to the mountain landscape through the popularization of gas-powered vehicles is the ubiquitous Auto Road up Mt. Washington. Originally a carriage road, the first Stanley “locomobile” ascended in 1899. In fact, Mt. Washington was used as a test point for early American cars. At first, however, autos driven by the public were barred from the auto road as the vehicles frightened the horses pulling carriages. Nevertheless, rules changed quickly: as of 1906 cars were allowed on Sundays only; by 1911 the Auto Road was dedicated to automobiles exclusively. Today, a drive up Rt. 16 past Glen tells us that the rest is history, as they say.



Bethann Weick, “Automobiles in the Whites,” The Cairn, accessed November 27, 2015,