Arcadia Publishing had been publishing books of old photos derived from local and regional history for a long time, and this area is no exception. A new one has just been published called “The 4000 Footers of New Hampshire’s White Mountains,” by Mike Dickerman.
Dickerman is owner of Bondcliff Books of Littleton. He has written or coedited 15 books, including books for the Arcadia Press history section, including “Stories from the White Mountains” and “White Mountain Hiking History.” But until now, he hasn’t compiled one of the classic Arcadia Press books of old regional photos with captions.
“Folks at Arcadia Press have been bugging me a long time to put one together,” he said recently. “It had been percolating in my mind for 4 or 5 years. Finally in mid-April of 2020 I signed a contract to do it.”
The pandemic was a mixed event for this project, giving him more time to put the book together, but access to photos was almost nil at the start. The AMC Highland Center library and the Mount Washington Observatory library were closed, as was Dartmouth library.
Finally in October 2020, things loosed up. “Becky Fullerton, the AMC archivist who is based at the Highland Center, helped me with the old AMC collection of black and white photos,” he said.
Peter Crane was in the process of moving the Observatory library from the basement of their North Conway building to one of the upper floors. “In the process of this move he kept out photos for me,” said Dickerman.
Dave Govatski of Jefferson, retired White Mountain National Forest employee and scholar of White Mountain history opened his considerable collection to Dickerman.
Chris Whitton of Littleton is the grandson of Clyde Smith, well known photographer of the White Mountains in the early 20th century. His photos were a regular feature in the small monthly “New Hampshire Profiles.” Whitten, a noted photographer himself, gave Dickerson access to his family archives. Both his and Smith’s photos are in the book.
The White Mountain National Forest, based in Campton, gave him access to photos.
Some photos required more sleuthing. The 1967 World Cup was held at Cannon Mountain. Jean Claude Killy won the giant slalom and the downhill. “The New England Ski Museum didn’t have a photo of Killy skiing at that event,” said Dickerman. “ I went online and found one on Ebay photographed by someone who was at the event, and purchased it.”
In the book is good photo of poet Robert Frost standing by a fence with his son Carol, with Mount Lafayette in the background. “Dartmouth College has a large Robert Frost collection,” said Dickerman. “They sent me the entire folder of his time in Franconia.”
Dickerman dedicated the book to the memory of Gene Daniell, whom he calls the “Grand Poobah of Peak Bagging.” Daniell did many hikes with Dickerman and hiking author Steve Smith. In Smith’s hiking blog, he notes: “Daniell was co-editor of the AMC White Mountain Guide for 25 years. He was the first hiker to climb all the 4000 footers in every month of the year, a feat nowadays known as the Grid (a term Daniell disliked).” Dickerman had access to 600 of Daniell’s photos to choose from.
Dickerman submitted the manuscript for the book in January 2021. An important fact checker for the book was Steve Smith, who took a couple days off from his own busy schedule as owner of the Mountain Wanderer Book and Map Store in Lincoln, and his own writing.
What were my own impressions leafing through the book, enjoying the photos and reading the captions? Sometimes I forget how deep my own roots have grown here in the mountains. The book reminded me.
“The 4000 footers of New Hampshire’s White Mountains” is available at White Birch Books in North Conway. They can be reached at 603-356-3200.
Ed Parsons of Tamworth has written a hiking column for various newspapers in the Mount Washington Valley, and for the Conway Daily Sun since the early 1990s. Since moving to Tamworth 7 years ago, he ranges frequently into the Lakes Region for hikes as well.