Do You Know The Tragic Story Of New Hampshire’s Willey Family?
There is a reason why millions of people make visits to New England each year. Maine's rugged coastline, Massachusetts' thousands of historic sites, the quaint small towns of Vermont, and New Hampshire's majestic mountains.
One of the most traveled routes through New Hampshire's White Mountains is the trip through Crawford Notch on Route 302. The road takes you along the base of Mount Washington and, eventually, takes you to the Mount Washington Hotel and Bretton Woods ski area.
Along the way, there is a small New Hampshire State Park visitor center. In season, it features bathrooms, a small store, bathrooms, and some informational displays. Across the road, there are some trails and a pond. There's also a few machines that sell food so you can feed the ducks that frequently hang out in the pond. It is a really peaceful place to take a break and stretch your legs.
However, most people don't realize the tragedy that happened on that site.
According to Wikipedia, in the early 1800s, the Willey family lived and worked that land. In the summer of 1826, a terrible drought hit that part of New Hampshire. On the night of August 28th, that drought came to an end when an epic storm rolled into the area.
When the heavy rain hit the dry soil, it caused mudslides on some of the mountains. One of these mudslides was on the mountain above the Willey property. Tons of rocks and mud slid down the hill, washing away the Willey family barn. The family's home was left untouched.
Sadly, it appears that they felt they would be safer in the barn, so the family hunkered down there. As a result, the entire family - parents and five children - all perished. Additionally, two farmhands died.
When the neighbors arrived on scene, they found the house was completely untouched. It had been protected by a tangled of downed trees.
Even though the summer season is basically over, you should still consider making a trip to the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Fall is a great time to visit. It's a lot less busy than at the peak of summer season, the foliage is beautiful, and most of the seasonal businesses are still open.