New Hampshire Missing Places: Dome Mount aka Pleasant Dome aka Mount Pleasant

Old Postcard of the Presidential Range, White Mountains New Hampshire still showing Mt. Pleasant (now Mt. Eisenhower) and Mt. Clinton (now Mt. Pierce).

Old Postcard of the Presidential Range, White Mountains New Hampshire still showing Mt. Pleasant (now Mt. Eisenhower) and Mt. Clinton (now Mt. Pierce).

New Hampshire has a penchant for changing things–slogans, and place names especially.  It’s “in with the new and out with the old!”  As you’ve possibly guessed (as it is the case in most of my “Missing Places” posts) the mountain in question is not truly lost, it was just renamed. We don’t know if the native people had a unique name for it or not, but by 1820 one of the peaks in the White Mountain’s Presidential Range was called Dome Mount and Mount Pleasant. In 1969 it was renamed Mount Eisenhower.

In the book, The place names of the White Mountains by Robert Hixson Julyan, Mary Julyan, page 48, UPNE, 1993, it is stated, “When the Weeks-Brackett party ascended Mount Washington in 1820 to name the high peaks for the nation’s presidents, they encountered a problem–not enough presidents. They stepped out of the presidential league to give Mount Franklin its name, but when they came to the next peak, they were stumped…they gave this mountain southwest of Mount Franklin the name Mount Pleasant. According to the White Mountains explorer, Prof. Edward Tuckerman, this peak in the southern Presidential Range was called Dome Mountain before being christened Mount Pleasant; the USGS later called it Pleasant Dome. In 1824, in the American Journal of Science, James Pierce called it Mount Prospect.”

The Weeks-Brackett party, referenced above, were reported in the Daily National Intelligencer newspaper, Washington, DC, on Monday, September 11, 1820: “Ascent of the White Mountains–The following gentlemen, viz: Major John W. Weeks, Col. John Wilson, Adino N. Brackett, Lieut. Barnard, Samuel A. Pearson, Charles J. Stuart, Esquires; Messrs. George W. Perkins, Noyes Dennison, Allen Smith of Lancaster, N.H., Major John Dodge, Captain Silas Marshall, of Guildhall, Vt., and Philip Carrigain, Esq. having mutually agreed to make a visit to the White Mountains, after electing their officers, and making every necessary arrangement for the expedition, set out on the 31st July. On arriving in the vicinity of the mountains they took with them Mr. Ethan A. Crawford, as a guide and assistant, and, commencing the ascent the same day, got up to Crawford’s Camp before dark. The next morning the muster roll was called, and none reported absent or on the sick list; and the company, refreshed from their bed of hemlock, and the excellent cheer and fare of their commissary’s stores, shouldered their knapsacks and resumed the line of march at the sound of the bugle. From the long and severe drought, the travelling over the rocks and moss was uncommonly slippery and fatiguing; but, rather animated than depressed by difficulties, they continued the ascent with spirit and alacrity, and, passing over the dome mount or Mount Pleasant, and Mount Madison, and resting only for refresment at the Blue Pond, all arrived at the awful summit of Mount Washington nearly at the same time….

Postcard of the old Mount Pleasant Hotel, Bretton Woods, NH

Postcard of the old Mount Pleasant Hotel, Bretton Woods, NH

By 1875 the mountain was quite popular as a tourist destination.  The Mt. Pleasant House, a hotel at Bretton Woods with a spectacular view of that peak was built, opening for the 1876 season. This same building was enlarged in the Queen Anne style by Portland architect Francis H. Fassett in 1895.  The Mt. Pleasant House was purchased in 1881 by Joseph Stickney who demolished the Mt. Pleasant, and built the Mount Washington Hotel.

In the same year that the Mt. Pleasant House was opened (1876), The White Mountains: Handbook for Travellers, by James R. Osgood and Company, described in great detail Mount Pleasant, and in travelogue style what to expect while hiking to it.  For one hundred and forty-nine years, the lofty precipice was known by this name. In the meantime, any presidents served our nation.

Dwight D. Eisenhower and his wife Mamie.

Dwight D. Eisenhower and his wife Mamie.

28 March 1969– former President Dwight D. Eisenhower dies in Washington, D.C. [and now the following newspaper articles speak for themselves].

18 June 1969 the Nashua Telegraph announced: “Mt. Eisenhower May Join Range
Concord NH (AP)– The New Hampshire House Tuesday approved a Senate-passed bill which changes the name of Mt. Pleasant to Mount Eisenhower in honor of the late President and general. The measure now goes to Gov. Walter Peterson for his signature.
The mountain, near Chandler’s Location, thus becomes part of New Hampshire’s presidential range of the White Mountains, which includes peaks named Washington, Adams, Monroe, Jackson and Jefferson.”

On 23 Sep 1969, Nashua Telegraph CLEVELAND GOES RIGHT TO TOP, by Don Guy
MOUNT EISENHOWER, WHITE MOUNTAINS, NH. (AP) — President Nixon hasn’t gotten around to dedicating Mount Eisenhower yet so a group of hikers did it themselves without bothering with champagne last weekend. Rep. James Cleveland, R., N.H. poured precious water from a canteen upon a rough stone cairn atop the 4,761 foot summit and said, “I christen thee Mount Eisenhower.”

Any water is precious atop Mount Eisenhower. The nearest spring is a couple of miles away and hiking in crisp dry fall weather is thirsty sport. Mount Eisenhower was Mount Pleasant in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains until the New Hampshire Legislature decided to change the name earlier this year to honor the last president.
Unofficial efforts have been made to sound out the Administration on whether President Nixon would ever make a trip to the Granite State to officiate at a summit ceremony. So far as is known no word has been received one way or another. Cleveland was climbing with a group of mountain buffs celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Crawford Path to the summit of New Hampshire when it was decided to christen Mount Eisenhower.

Tavernkeeper Abel Crawford hadn’t bothered with a side trip up the peak when he pioneered his trail in 1819. The 8.4 mile Crawford Path is now the oldest continuously used hiking trail in the United States. About five miles of the path are above tree line on this range famed for its rugged weather. Mount Eisenhower has a steep scramble near the summit but is visited annually by numerous hikers. Bruce Sloat, Appalachian Mountain Club hut manager, and Paul Doherty, district chief of the state Fish and Game department, led the expedition.

The hikers took liberties with history by riding to the top of 6,288 Mount Washington in stages of the summit road company. However the Crawfords were in favor of mechanization of a sort, Tom Crawford completed a bridle path to the summit in 1840 and Abel, then 75 made the first climb on horseback. Wives of the hikers nearly forgot history entirely when Mary Sloat discovered an abundance of wild cranberries clinging to the slopes near Lake of the Clouds. “They make the most delicious tart jelly” Mrs. Sloat exclaimed and a brief rest stop to pick berries was declared before Mount Eisenhower was challenged.

“I hope the name sticks better than Frank Pierce,” Sloat commented after the impromptu dedication. “In 1913 the New Hampshire Legislature voted to rename Mount Clinton as Mount Franklin Pierce” Sloat said.  That was the last ever heard of the resolution to memorialize the Hillsborough N.H. native who became 14th president at the age of 48 in 1853.  Guidebooks and map still refer to the 4,312-foot peak a mile southwest of Mount Eisenhower as Mount Clinton.

Cleveland sternly resisted political temptation to make a speech at the brief ceremony above tree line. Doherty, an authority on the history of the Crawford Path, pointed out that Daniel Webster another son of the Granite State had no such hesitation.  Webster reached the summit of Mount Washington in June, 183(1)?, but a summer snowstorm cut off view of the magnificent scenery. Webster thereupon cussed the New England weather in the deep full throated voice that made him famous as the greatest orator of the day.
Ethan Allen Crawford who witnessed Webster’s summit oration remarked tartly years later: “Old Dan never spoke from a higher rostrum or to a smaller audience.”

25 Sep 1969, Nashua Telegraph–CANTEEN CHRISTENING. U.S. Congressman James Cleveland of New Hampshire christens Mount Eisenhower in the White Mountains with water from his canteen as Mrs. Cleveland and Jack Middleton Jr. 12, watch. The 4,761 summit in the White Mountains was renamed by New Hampshire Legislature last spring. The summit of Mount Washington 6,288 feet high and highest peak in the northeast is in right background 3 miles away. The entire presidential range is above the tree line (AP Wirephoto)

Mt. Eisenhower and Presidential Range sign, White Mountains NH

Mt. Eisenhower and Presidential Range sign, White Mountains NH

October 2, 1972 Nashua Telegraph–MOUNT EISENHOWER. Former governor Sherman Adams (right) chairman of the Mount Eisenhower dedication committee points to George Gilman, commissioner of resources and economic development, the granite stone to which the plaque will be affixed Saturday noting that the 4,571 foot peak was named Mount Eisenhower three years ago by a special act of the state legislature.

Editor’s Note: the Presidential Range of the White Mountains presently is made up of the following mountains: Mount Webster, Mt. Jackson, Mt. Pierce, Mt. Eisenhower, Mt. Franklin, Mt. Monroe, Mt. Washington, Mt. Clay, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Sam Adams, Mt. Adams, Mt. Quincy Adams, Mt. Madison.  The only mountains in this group named after New Hampshire natives are Mount Webster (named after the orator and statesman, Daniel Webster, and Mt. Pierce (named after native son Franklin Pierce who became President of the United States).  According to Wikipedia there is an even more recent naming controversy: “In 2003, the New Hampshire state legislature, participating in a Reagan Legacy project, made it state law that Mt. Clay “shall hereafter be called and known as Mount Reagan,” after President Ronald Reagan. The legal force of this is limited to actions by the state of New Hampshire. The U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN) voted in May 2010 NOT to change the name of the mountain. Maps used in connection with foot travel in the Presidentials are typically published by the U.S. Geological Survey (which adheres by law to BGN’s naming), and by the Appalachian Mountain Club and two New England companies, all three of whom as of 2010 use “Clay” and make no mention of “Reagan”.”

This entry was posted in History, N.H. Missing Places, New Hampshire Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply