National Historic Marker Day is celebrated on the last Friday of April, and it is a great opportunity to learn more about all the interesting, unique, and sometimes quirky historical events that have been commemorated by a state historic marker. Did you know that there are currently 279 historic markets in the state of New Hampshire? That number continues to grow as new markers are installed.
You can find a list of all the historic markers here, and a fun challenge would be to plan different routes to see how many markers you can visit.
For this blog, we visited 7 markers which took a couple of hours to complete. Read on to learn more!
Betty and Barney Hill Incident-Lincoln
This historic marker is located on Route 3 North at Indian Head Resort, which is on the route that this mindboggling incident took place. Betty and Barney Hill allegedly experienced the world’s most widely reported UFO abduction in the United States. They reported that they were abducted by little green men with large eyes, and their reports have become the gold standard of what most people think of when they imagine what an alien looks like. Their story has been the basis of tv shows and movies, the most famous of which was made in 1975 and starred James Earl Jones and Estelle Parsons.
Stone Iron Furnace-Franconia
Located right on the Main Street of Franconia, this historic marker stands in a little park along the Gale River which also features an iron bridge and an Interpretive Center which is managed by the Franconia Heritage Museum. The Besaw Iron Furnace (which still stands across the river) was built in 1805 and is an octagonal shaped furnace made of local granite. It is the last of its kind to stand in the state of New Hampshire. Iron production was in decline by 1865 and the furnace was eventually abandoned. The park is a lovely spot to enjoy a picnic lunch before visiting some of the local shops along the Main Street such as the Franconia Basecamp and Franconia Market.
Frances Glessner Lee-Bethlehem
Heading East on Route 302, you can find this historic marker on Glessner Road, leading up to the Rocks property. The Rocks was the summer estate of Frances’s family and in the 1940’s -1950’s, she pursued her passion for criminology which was inspired by a close friend who studied medicine and death investigation at Harvard Medical School. She created 20 dioramas called the “Nutshell Studies Unexplained Death” which depicted actual crime scenes. She was named an honorary captain of the New Hampshire State Police in 1943.
One of the newer of the New Hampshire state historic markers, this one was dedicated in July 2022. This marker can be found on School Street in the parking lot of the Twin Mountain Chamber of Commerce. The Rev. Henry Ward Beecher was a Congregationalist clergyman, abolitionist, and a proponent of women’s suffrage. He was also the brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe who was an author and abolitionist. While visiting the White Mountains to ease his allergy symptoms, Beecher would stand on a glacial boulder near this spot and preach to crowds of nearly 1,000 people.
Mount Washington Hotel-Bretton Woods
You can find this historic marker at the scenic vista parking lot across the street from the hotel. The Omni Mount Washington Hotel is one of the last remaining grand hotels in the White Mountains and the state of New Hampshire. The building of the hotel was financed by Joseph Stickney and was completed in 1902. Stickney hired 250 Italian artisans to build the hotel at a cost of $1.7 million dollars. The hotel used to close in the winter, but it opened for its first winter season in 1999. If you wish to take a self-guided tour of the hotel, be sure to stop at the Grandfather Clock in the lobby. There was a tradition that the first guest of the summer season would wind the clock, signaling that the hotel was open for the summer.
Bretton Woods Monetary Conference-Bretton Woods
This marker is easy to find as it is on the opposite side of the Mount Washington Hotel marker! In 1944, delegates from 44 countries from around the world met at the Mount Washington Hotel in the Gold Room to establish regulations for the international monetary system. This was a very important meeting as it created the International Monetary Fund and led the founding of the World Bank. It set the exchange rate of currencies around the world to the value of gold.
The Crawford Family-Bretton Woods
Right before the turn to the Base Road of the Mount Washington Cog Railway, you will find this historic marker, which is an homage to the founding family of the area that we now know as Crawford Notch. The Crawford Family were pioneers in building hotels that would appeal to tourists traveling to the region via railroad. The Crawford House was a grand hotel that burned down in 1977. The Appalachian Mountain Club Highland Center was built on the site of the hotel. The Crawford Path was originally cut by Ethan Allen Crawford and is the oldest continuously used trail to the summit of Mount Washington.
(Photos Courtesy of Colleen Eliason)
There are many more historic markers to discover throughout the various towns in the White Mountains. While you're in the car, you can also check out some of our other scenic drives or peruse our blog for additional trip ideas.