The original Summit House was opened in 1852 Joseph Seavey Hall and Lucius Rosebrook. Building it required physical effort almost impossible to believe today. The lumber was cut at a sawmill in Jefferson and taken up to the Summit via bridle path. The boards and timbers were partly secured to a horse and partly carried by one of two young men, walking behind the horse. These young men were D.B. Davis and A. Judson Bedell. It’s said that the door of the hotel was carried up the mountain by Rosebrook. The next year, 1853, a Lancaster resident, John Spaulding, built the Tip Top House to compete with the Summit House. After one season, Spaulding bought the Summit House and the two have since been operated by one company.
In 1861, the Carriage Road up Mt. Washington from the Glen House was completed and in 1869, the Cog Railway was completed. Both brought a large increase in the number of visitors. It became apparent that facilities had to be enlarged. In 1872, Walter Aiken, representing the Mt. Washington Railway, and John Lyon, President of the Boston, Concord and Montreal Rail Road, decided to build a new, larger, Summit House. It opened in 1873. It cost $59,599.97 to build, plus another $10,000 for freight costs. All material came up the Cog Railway and 259 freight car loads were required. In 1874, the Summit House was enlarged and the original Summit House, which was still standing, became a dormitory for the staff until 1884, when it was taken down.
In 1877, Henry M. Burt, began publishing Among The Clouds, the first paper to be printed on a mountain summit, using a portion of the Tip Top House. In 1884, a new building was erected for the paper. (The paper was not published at all in 1908, all it’s equipment having been destroyed in the fire. In 1909, a Special Edition was published and in 1910 regular publication resumed, but not from the Summit.)
In 1878 the Stage Office was built by the owners of the Carriage Road, and was operated from the Glen House. The E. Libby Co. of Gorham, who was the operator of the Carriage Road and the stage line at the time of the fire, started re-building within a few days of the fire and the building was ready for use in late July. The Signal Station was built by the US government in 1874 for use by weather observers.
It’s likely the photographs on this page, and the photo-album linked below, were taken by Guy Shorey, a well known photographer from Gorham. Shorey was on the Summit the morning after the fire and the photo showing part of the Signal Station still standing, was definitely taken by him. It was used in the 1909 Special Edition of Among The Clouds, published in magazine format, to commemorate the fire. Shorey is named as the photographer.
The information used on this page is taken from that 1909 Special Issue of Among The Clouds and from Frederick Kilbourne’s “Chronicle of the White Mountains”, an excellent history of the area. The photographs of the aftermath of the fire are from the Douglas Philbrook Collection and the collection of the Mt Washington Observatory and are used with permission.