Skip to main content

Sandwich Notch Road


Given its long standing position in American history, New England has its fair share of historic thoroughfares. Many of you are likely familiar with the Boston Post Road linking Boston with New York City, while others may know of the Bayley Hazen Military Road in northern Vermont. In the scenic White Mountains, the historic Sandwich Notch Road was at first a trading route in early 19th Century New Hampshire, linking Thornton and the Waterville Valley area with the town of Sandwich, and ultimately towards southern New Hampshire using roads of its day.

Originally built in 1801, the Sandwich Notch Road was the first major commercial road through the White Mountains, using the location of the Sandwich Notch as a shortcut to go to the Pemigawasset River Valley as goods like meat, hides and apples would work their way south and items like sugar, salt and molasses would work their way north. The Sandwich Notch Road was predominately used to transport goods during the winter in its early heyday, as the snow made the road the smoothest during the year. This is in contrast to today, where the Sandwich Notch Road is closed during the winter. The Sandwich Notch Road was also used during the summer months after mud season ended, as there were about 300 families that once made their homes along the road. As you drive the road today, you may see the stone walls and cellar holes are the evidence of former settlement. In addition to its residents, Sandwich Notch was also home to two sawmills, two schoolhouses and a still. Over time, as better farming and other economic opportunities became available, the number of families moved on and there is only one private residence still remaining along the road outside of Center Sandwich.

After the families of the Sandwich Notch had moved away, the land sat empty for many years until it was bought up by lumber companies and during the early 20th century, the Beebe Valley Railroad was constructed up the Beebe River Valley from Campton to Sandwich Notch to get the lumber out to the sawmills for production. In 1942, the railroad tracks were taken out and a portion of the land was sold to the White Mountain National Forest. During the 1970s and 1980s, there were concerns that the land around Sandwich Notch would be developed into condos and other vacation residences. As a result of conservation efforts, a successful campaign to "Save the Notch" was successful and led the owner to sell most of the remainder of the land to the White Mountain National Forest. Today, the entire length of the Sandwich Notch Road is along protected private property as well as local and federal government land.

Today, the Sandwich Notch Road is a 9 mile road that runs between NH 49 in Thornton to Center Sandwich. For the most part, it is a slow, rough and at times steep dirt road that meanders through the forest, with ample hiking opportunities and some scenic views of the White Mountains along the way. While I had no issues making my way up the road from south to north in low gear in my SUV, the Sandwich Notch Road could be difficult for some vehicles that are low to the ground.

The southern end of the Sandwich Notch Road in Center Sandwich, New Hampshire.

A patriotic painted barn in Center Sandwich.

A view of Squam Lake from Center Sandwich.

A warning to not trust your GPS on the Sandwich Notch Road. In winter, the road is used as a snowmobile trail.

Where the famed Sandwich Notch Road meets the White Mountain National Forest.

There are a number of hiking trails along the Sandwich Notch Road. The hike to Beede Falls and Cow Caves is a short hike, but a nice way to stretch your legs. As a hiker and waterfall enthusiast as well as a road enthusiast, I managed to get to the waterfall during low water flow.

Cow Caves.

Driving up Sandwich Notch Road. 

Driving north up the Sandwich Notch Road.

The only remaining residence still on Sandwich Notch Road. They receive U.S. Male here, apparently. 

White Mountains views.

Looking east towards Waterville Valley near the north end of the Sandwich Notch Road.


Sources and Links:
Sandwich Historical Society - Auto Tour of the Sandwich Notch
Waterville Valley Realty - Driving on Sandwich Notch Road
New England Waterfalls - Beede Falls
Scenic NH Photography by Erin Paul Donovan - Sandwich Notch Road, New Hampshire
The Heart of New England - Step Back in Time as you Travel Sandwich Notch in New Hampshire's White Mountains
Nutfield Genealogy - Sandwich Notch Road, New Hampshire (1801 to 2015)

Comments

Unknown said…
I was disappointed by the lack of Sandwiches.
Anonymous said…
This road is notchust for sandwiches.

Popular posts from this blog

Kancamagus Highway (NH 112 through the White Mountains of New Hampshire)

The Kancamagus Highway is a portion of NH 112 spanning from Conway to Lincoln through the scenic White Mountains of New Hampshire. Locally known as the "Kanc", the 34.5-mile drive is a recognized National Scenic Byway, offering travelers an abundance of history and spectacular beauty in addition to being considered one of the best fall foliage viewing areas in the world. The road opened up one of the last unconquered wilderness areas in New Hampshire, a region that the 1850 state Gazetteer called "unfit for human habitation." The two lane highway links the valleys of the Merrimack, Pemigewasset and Saco rivers, crossing over Kancamagus Pass at 2,855 feet in elevation, winding through some of the most difficult and gorgeous terrain in the state. A number of scenic vistas are found along the way offering remarkable views of the surrounding White Mountains, Swift River, Lower Falls and Rocky Gorge. You will not find services through much of the drive, until you get to

Ghost Town Tuesday; Transylvania, Louisiana

Back in 2014 I found myself returning home to Florida from Hot Springs National Park.  While passing through East Carroll Parish in Louisiana on US Route 65 I noticed an abandoned school on the side of the highway in a community called Transylvania. Supposedly Transylvania was founded in the early 19th century and was named after the University of the same name in Kentucky.  Supposedly Transylvania has about 700 residents according to the 2000 Census but you wouldn't know it from the total lack of occupied structures.  The earliest map reference I can find showing Transylvania present in East Carroll Parish is from 1878. 1878 Louisiana State Map I really can't find too much substantive information regarding the Transylvania Elementary School but the construction is likely Pre-World War II.  Supposedly the Transylvania Elementary School was abandoned in the late 20th Century and was open to vandals until the property was purchased in 2014. Article Regarding the Transy

I-93 Sign Replacement Project Update

Decided to beat the Memorial Day rush and traveled up I-93 north of Boston Wednesday afternoon to check out the progress of the two sign replacement projects. Based on webcam images, I new some signs had been replaced at the southern and northern end of the Somerville to Exit 38 segment. Turns out signage has been updated northbound for Exit 28 (MA 28/38), the first sign for Exit 31 (MA 16) (I guess taking advantage of MassDOT closing I-93 between Exits 20 and 28 for Big Dig Tunnel maintenance a couple nights a month) and for Exits 34 to 38. A photographic summary starts with the first re-signed exit: This is the second overhead assembly. The signs are mounted on the previously existing overhead supports that go back to the opening of the lower and upper deck portions of I-93 in the early 1970's. I don't know about using the left hand side simply for an auxiliary sign for the exit, but there isn't much room to place it elsewhere. The next interchange that  has had