Early photographs of the White Mountains

One of the earliest known photographers to visit and then eventually relocate to the White Mountains is Samuel A. Bemis. "A Boston dentist and amateur daguerreotypist, Mr. Bemis bought one of the first cameras ever sold in the United States on April 15, 1840." His camera and the original receipt is now in the Eastman Museum along with 19 of his original photographs. Many of daguerretypes are of Crawford Notch and the surrounding mountains, buildings and landscapes.  He enjoyed the Crawford Notch area so much he left Boston and built his home, well really a manor, which is still standing but not as a residence but the Notchland Inn. Mountains, brooks, trails and bridges are named after this early photographer. 

The White Mountains of New Hampshire have changed tremendously since Mr. Bemis wandered the wooded slopes of Crawford Notch. Each time I look at his early daguerreotypes I appreciate how photographs can capture the mundane and after 200 years the mundane becomes fascinating. I look and look at this image of Crawford Notch trying to figure out where it was taken, what was happening nearby, who was standing nearby out of frame, why did he choose to create that image. Perhaps I'll go back into the notch and figure out where it was taken and see what things look like today from the same perspective many decades later.

Joe Klementovich