Stan Amster Photography – Scenic and Commercial Photography in Northern New England.

Histroic

The Balsams Grand Resort Hotel in Dixville Notch New Hampshire

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Located along the old Coös Trail (now Route 26) through Dixville Notch, it first opened just after the Civil War as the Dix House, a 25-room summer inn established by George Parsons. In 1895, it was purchased by Henry S. Hale, a Philadelphia inventor and industrialist who had been a regular guest. He renamed it “The Balsams”, and over time enlarged and augmented the facilities. In 1918, Hale completed the Hampshire House, the towering wing which doubled the resort’s capacity to 400 guests.

 

The Ballot Room of The Balsams is where Dixville Notch’s presidential primary votes are cast just after midnight on the day of the New Hampshire primaries since the 1960s. These votes cast by Dixville Notch residents are among the first to be cast, counted, and reported nationally.

 

Currently, The Balsams closed to the public after being purchased by new owners for $2.3 million in December 2011, and remains closed as of February 2020 as its owners continue to seek financing for their redevelopment and expansion efforts. In 2014, former American Skiing Company head Les Otten joined the Balsams redevelopment effort. Included in Otten’s current plan is a massive expansion of the ski area to around 1,000 acres and the addition of multiple lifts, including a year-round gondola to the summit and a lift connection across Route 26 to the hotel complex. The expanded ski area would be quadruple its current size and be one of the largest ski areas in the Northeast. Plans also call for the renovation of the main hotel buildings, the Dix and Hampshire houses, as well as a new hotel wing, and renovations to the golf course clubhouse. The plans also call for the conversion of a portion of the existing buildings from hotel rooms to condominiums as well as the potential construction of additional condominium units.

 

Conway Scenic Railroad 7470 steams into North Conway Station.

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The Conway Scenic Railroad 7470 steams into North Conway New Hampshire on a hot summer day.

Steam locomotive #7470 was built by the Grand Trunk Railway Point St. Charles Shops at Montreal, Quebec, in 1921 with serial #22/1500. It is a coal fired switching locomotive with an 0-6-0 wheel arrangement; it has 51” driving wheels and 22” x 26” cylinders. It develops 36,700 lbs of tractive effort.

The weight of the locomotive in working order is 87 tons and the tender weighs 65 tons. The locomotive is equipped with super-heaters. Originally built as Grand Trunk Railway #1795, it soon became Canadian National Railway #7470, Class 0-18-a. It was acquired in 1968 by Dwight Smith, and in 1974 joined the start-up Conway Scenic Railroad as #47. It was renumbered to #7470 in 1989.

Middlebury Falls in Middlebury Vermont

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Middlebury Falls is an impressively broad waterfall along Otter Creek located in downtown Middlebury Vermont. The falls plunge only 18 feet over an undercut shelf, but stretch 170 feet across and during periods of higher flow the river will overwhelm the entire cliff face, while during the summer and early autumn months it may segment into two or three distinct channels. Remnants of a small millrace on the right side of the falls are also visible, with a small portion of the creek being diverted through, though not nearly enough to impact the volume of water actually flowing over the falls.

 

Despite being an urban waterfall, found right in the center of the town of Middlebury, the development around the falls doesn’t detract from the scene quite as much as one might otherwise assume at first glance, and the city has done a great job at both embracing the falls and providing multiple public open spaces with views of the falls. A long metal footbridge spans Otter Creek downstream from the falls and provides interesting views through a grove of trees adjacent to the old mill race, and a nice park with ample open space on the north side of the stream allows for airy, unobstructed views of the whole falls.

Picture perfect day in Peacham Vermont

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I thought I would get out on a picture perfect day and head over to Peacham and a few other places in the NEK. The weather was perfect.

In 1763, Governor Benning Wentworth of New Hampshire gave a charter for the region to a group of proprietors, and the town was given the name Peacham (the etymology of the name is unclear). The original proprietors were speculators who surveyed the town, laid a few rudimentary roads, and divided it into lots, though the territory remained unsettled for some time.

 

In 1775, settlers, primarily from Connecticut and Massachusetts, bought the lots and built homes, developing the land for agriculture. The original settlers survived almost entirely through subsistence farming despite the long winters, hilly terrain, and rocky soil. Nine years later, records show a population of approximately 200 people. The first recorded town meeting took place in 1784, and selectmen were duly elected to govern the affairs of the town. Peacham was early on presented with a choice of having either the county courthouse or the county school, and the residents voted for the school. In 1795 the Caledonia County Grammar School received its charter, and the first school was established in a log structure on the Bayley Hazen Road, halfway between Peacham Corner and South Peacham.

 

In 1799, a library was established, which traveled from store to store. A congregational church was founded in 1794 – the first pastor, Leonard Worcester, was well known for his fiery sermons. His son Samuel went on to be an important missionary to the Cherokee people, creating the first typeface for the Cherokee alphabet and gaining lasting fame as the plaintiff in the supreme court case Worcester v. Georgia.

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse in Bristol Maine

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Without a doubt, this is my favorite lighthouse in New England.

The lighthouse was commissioned in 1827 by President John Quincy Adams and built that year. Because of poor workmanship (salt water was used in the mortar mix), the lighthouse began to crumble and was replaced in 1835. The second contract for the construction stipulated that only fresh water be used. Keeper Isaac Dunham oversaw the construction and wrote in a letter to the US Lighthouse Establishment that the agreement was upheld and the work went well.

The original light was an Argand-Lewis parabolic reflector, lit with candles and with a visibility of 2 miles (3.2 km). Augustin Fresnel invented a superior way of focusing light in the early 1850s and most lighthouses in the US were converted to the Fresnel Lens, with Pemaquid Point receiving a fourth order Fresnel

The Old Dairy Barn at Shelburne Farms in Shelburne Vermont

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This may be the last known picture of the barn. Sadly, on Sept. 11, 2016, lightning from the storm struck the Old Dairy Barn and  it burned to the ground.

The thunderstorm that rolled through Shelburne on Sunday morning may have woken many from a sound sleep, but it had a far more devastating impact at Shelburne Farms. At about 5:30am, on Sept. 11, 2016, lightning from the storm struck the Old Dairy Barn on the Southern Acres portion of the property. First responders and firefighters arrived on the scene slightly after 7am. By 9:30am, the building was ash and charred wood, and a National Historic Landmark had

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