The Inn history
A Rich Heritage
A Landmark for travelers for over 200 years, the New England Inn and Lodge boasts a rich heritage among the region's famous old wayside hostelries.
The Eastern Slope of the White Mountains was still a vast, untamed wilderness when the original farmhouse was built on this site by Samuel Bloodgood, in 1809.
In this setting of breath-taking beauty, amid the hills rising gradually to the snow-capped peaks, the hardy pioneers had laid out their farms and built their homes, crude log huts at first, giving way within a few years to more elaborate and comfortable frame dwellings.
Settlement of Conway
Conway, the area's first settlement, had been established barely 45 years. The first permanent inhabitants - Colonel Frye and Lieutenant McMillan, two noted soldiers in the late French and Indian wars - had been granted tracts of land in 1763 as a reward for their services. They were followed by a few others, and seven families were on the land when the township was formally granted two years later by Royal Governor Benning Wentworth, who named it for one of his English patrons, General Henry Seymour Conway, Earl of Hertford.
Discussion about the Indians
Prior to the arrival of the settlers, the country extending from the sea to the St. Lawrence, as far as the Pisctaqua, had been the land of the Algonquin nation, comprising a number of tribes. The Saco river's intervale had been the home of the Pequawket tribe, warlike and hostile to the encroaching english settlers moving northward from Massachusetts.
The Pequawkets had been forced to flee to Canada after their war chief, Paugus, was killed in a battle of Lovewell's pond in 1725. Under his son, Wonalancet, however, they had tried repeatedly to regain their lost territory throughout the French and Indian wars, which ended in 1760.
The more peaceful Ossipee tribe had remained on, until their sachem, Chocorua, had plunged from the mountain that bears his name. Now, only a handful of descendants of these tribes still hunted the dense forests and fished the swift mountain streams.
The Original Inn
The entire region counted only a few primitive taverns along the rough roads through the mountain defiles, but the hungry and weary traveler was always sure of warm hospitality at any farmhouse with a substantial meal and a good bed for himself, and a stall for his horse.
The Bloodgood farm was famous for its hospitality from the first and remained so during Samuel's life and those of his sons and grandsons.
Among the third generation, Lyle Bloodgood had been a handsome, young and talented actor. Returning in later life after extensive travels, he often regaled his guests with tales of the stage. His most exciting story was an eye-witness account of Lincoln's assassination. He had been one of the performers at Ford's theater in Washington on that fatal night.
It was some years before this, in the late 1830's, that the farm had in fact become an inn, the owners setting a sign at the roadside to invite the traveling public to their hearth and board.
The Joy of Country Living
Led by artists, summer visitors had begun to discover all the attractions in the area as early as 1845, and many came to spend the season.
While the few small hotels now being erected in the principal towns catering to the transient, the new summer residents repaired to the homes of the farmers, where they could stay at much less expense, in return for helping with chores and the work of the fields.
By the middle of the century, more and more people were taking advantage of the opportunity for restful country living, coupled with the healthy rest and adventure of outdoor fun in the mountain air.
Teachers and other persons with seasonal occupations led the migration in quest of the perfect vacation and found it here.
Land of Scenic Splendor
It was fist of all the natural setting of the White Mountains that made the area the great vacation and tourist attraction it is today.
These mountains had been noticed from the earliest time by navigators sailing along the coast. Captain John Smith, discoverer of New England, had told of them after a voyage of exploration of the Maine shores in 1641. Here, he reported to Charles I, were "peaks visible from the sea in clear weather at a distance of about thirty leagues, covered with snow even under the summer sun, with many mountains whose tops are often lost in the clouds."
The Challenge of the Hills
Here was challenge for the adventurous! Th first persons to move northward from the Massachusetts Bay Colony stopped perforce within a few miles of its border. But following generations, battling savages and nature herself for choice lands pushed even deeper into the wilderness and penetrated to the heart of the mountains that had beckoned to them.
Later still, when the region's appeal to visitors was realized, descendants of those pioneers were to enhance its natural resources with new man-made attractions. the earliest of these was the Mount Washington Cog Railway, erected in 1866 as the first funicular in the world to reach the summit of a mountain, and the forerunner of many engineering marvels which are to be found here today.
It was at this time, immediately after the Civil War, that New Hampshire's resort industry in fact had its birth.
Few other areas in the entire country could offer both the natural attractions and the facilities for extensive and comfortable vacationing, and the region, as a result of this twin advantage, enjoyed a tremendous expansion which continued over the next 60 years, until the first World War.
Inns multiplied during this period, and large and splendid summer hotels were erected as the development of railroads made remote sections accessible for the first time.
New England already attracted people from all parts of the country. Its mountain resorts were the favorite refuge from excessive summer heat, drawing visitors even from the far South. They sailed to Boston from Norfolk, Charleston, Savannah and even New Orleans, the railroads then taking them northward to their destination.
At the height of the period, from 1907 to 1910, no less than 28 trains daily brought vacationers from Boston to Conway through the season.
To be continued...