"Sailors approaching East Coast harbors frequently mistake the pale peaks of the White Mountains—the highest range in the northeastern United States—for clouds. It was 1642 when explorer Darby Field could no longer contain his curiosity about one mountain in particular. He set off from his Exeter homestead and became the first man to climb what would eventually be called Mt. Washington. The 6,288-foot peak must have presented Field with formidable obstacles—its summit claims the highest wind velocity ever recorded and can see snow every month of the year.
Since Field's climb, curiosity about the mountains has not abated. Today an auto road and a cog railway lead to the top of Mt. Washington, and people come here by the tens of thousands to hike and climb, to photograph the vistas, and to ski. The peak is part of the Presidential Range, whose other peaks are also named after early presidents, and part of the White Mountain National Forest, whose roughly 770,000 acres extend from northern New Hampshire into southwestern Maine. Among the forest's scenic notches (deep mountain passes) are Pinkham, Kinsman, Franconia, and Crawford.
This section begins in Waterville Valley, off Interstate 93, and continues to North Woodstock. It then follows portions of the White Mountains Trail, a 100-mi loop designated as a National Scenic & Cultural Byway."
"The Town of Waterville Valley was incorporated in 1829. It is an island in the middle of the White Mountain National Forest comprised of about 42,000 acres of which 41,300 are National Forest. There are approximately 465 privately-held acres on the valley floor. The history of Waterville Valley is best described as pre-1965 and post-1966, which was the date that the major development of the Valley and the construction of the Mt. Tecumseh Ski Area were started.
Prior to 1966 Waterville Valley was primarily a summer destination resort where families came to vacation in the Waterville Inn or in about 20 privately-owned cottages at the ""north end"" of the Valley. The hotel began to attract winter guests after World War II after building a small ski lift at the back of the property. Prior to the 1940's, the Town had been a lumbering community, and prior to that a farming community.
By 1962, the total assessed property valuation in Waterville Valley amounted to $82,759 and no real estate taxes were levied. Then came progress...
In 1965, the Waterville Company, Inc. was formed. Headed by Tom Corcoran, the company purchased all the privately held land in the Valley (with the exception of the 20 privately held cottages) and began the process of developing a year-round resort concentrating initially on the Mt. Tecumseh Ski Area. This process has been ongoing and at present the Town is about 75% built out, with 1050 condominium units, 82 private homes, 18 time-share units, 14 quarter-share units, 120 hotel rooms and a commercial complex with shops and restaurants. The total property valuation in 1999 was about $165 million, with a tax rate of $18.42. The demand for resort seasonal rentals and full ownership is strong in the Valley. Real estate is currently available in the form of condominiums, homes and a limited number of residential building sites.
Although we have only about 260 year-round residents, on any given weekend we could have 4,000 to 6,000 people in the Valley so the range of municipal services the Town provides is quite sophisticated. These services include a secondary, tertiary wastewater treatment facility; a totally enclosed water system with three gravel packed wells and a 500,000 gallon reservoir; solid waste pickup with containers at all commercial and condominium developments; 24-hour police coverage where the 6 full-time officers are mandated to be cross trained as certified Level 1 firefighters and certified Emergency Medical Technicians; a recreation department which serves residents as well as guests and visitors; a volunteer fire department; a medical emergency division and a refrigerated ice arena which operates over a 10-month period.
The Waterville Valley community/school facility houses an elementary school for kindergarten through Grade 8 and the municipal recreation department. These two entities share, in addition to their own office and classroom space, a gymnasium, a multi-purpose room, kitchen and lunchroom facilities. The population of the school varies from 25 to 45 students, served by three full-time teachers and several part-time instructors. Secondary students attend the Plymouth Regional High School or the Holderness School, a preparatory school in Plymouth, about 15 miles south of the Valley.
Plymouth is the principal trading center for Waterville Valley and is home to Plymouth State College, a branch of the state university system. The Silver Cultural Arts Center, on the college campus, offers a rich and varied selection of performances by artists from around the word. Hospital facilities are also located in Plymouth with direct affiliation with the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, about a one hour's drive from Plymouth.
Waterville Valley has established itself as a premier winter vacation resort. However, it has also become known for its summer amenities which include a sporty 9-hole golf course, 18 clay tennis courts, Corcoran's Pond and related water activities, mountain biking, a roller blade sport park, numerous hiking trails, and several good fishing holes. Both the summer and winter activities are enhanced by an athletic club with indoor and outdoor swimming pools, indoor tennis and handball courts, and weight rooms."