Now that New Hampshire's dominant White Mountain peak can be climbed relatively easily in a long day, or more comfortably ascended by car or cog railway, it is easy to forget that it was once considered by Native Americans and most European settlers to be too sacred and formidable to attempt. In fact, mountain climbing was relatively rare until recent times, making the fifteen ascents of Mount Washington between 1632 and 1804 all the more remarkable. Passaconaway's Realm is a concise, historically and scientifically correct, and very dramatic story of Mount Washington's earliest climbs and the men who made them in pursuit of botanical specimens; meteorologic, geographic, and geological data; and personal adventure.
Incorporating sources that have never been utilized, Russell M. Lawson highlights the interaction of the wilderness landscape and the native peoples with such British-American newcomers and invaders as Walter Neale, Darby Field, John Josselyn, Captain Wells, Robert Rogers, Nicholas Austin, Governor John Wentworth, Jeremy Belknap, and Manasseh Cutler. He focuses on rustic frontiersman Captain John Evans, a founder of Fryeburg, Maine, an axe-man and hunter, but also the wilderness guide for the men of science during the 1784 Belknap-Cutler expedition. Lawson describes in close and intriguing detail the personal relations and aspirations, the logistics and difficulties, and the scientific aspirations and outcomes of this key early ascent.
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