Covered Bridge Campground is nestled in the White Mountain Nat Forest near Conway, NH. The sites are well situated in the forest with plenty of space. Like most FS Campgrounds there are no amenities. This one has vault toilets (think outhouse) with a water spigot nearby. A tough place to tent camp but it is packed. Loads of folks from MA, CN, & of course, NH, all roughing it out in the woods. Well, some of us are not really roughing it, but….
The Kancamagus Highway runs east/west through the WMNF & is listed as one of America’s Scenic Drives so you know we were on it! We made it 12 miles in four hours. Lots of hiking, history & scenery viewing between those miles. Oh yes & lots of photos. Two iPhones & the big Canon equal too many pictures!
Passaconaway was the Algonquin chief in this area during the 1600’s. He was able to unite 27 local groups into the Algonquin confederacy, Penacook. His grandson, Kancamagus, (the fearless one) was a formidable foe to the Europeans venturing into the area. He fought relentlessly but eventually went north into Canada & northern NH. The names of rivers, roads, & cities pay homage to their heritage.
The Swift River is not very deep but is very beautiful. The river bed & shores are covered with beautiful cream-colored boulders & stones, creating waterfalls & sections of white rushing water. People are not allowed in the waterfall & gorge areas, but there are a couple of recreation places along the river where folks are allowed to swim & have fun.
Logging timber was a major part of this area’s economy in the late 1800’s. The giant white pines that grow here were prized as “mast” trees for sailing ships. The 200 ft trees added greater sailing power, higher speeds & less likely to break in storms. A mast tree had to be free of branches for the first 80 feet! The last one was reportedly timbered in 1840 & was dragged by 88 oxen teams along the frozen ground to Portsmouth NH!
The village of Passaconaway was settled to support the growing logging industry & build the railroads that hauled the timber to the cities. By the late 1880’s, the village had over 20 farms, seven schools & a hotel to cater to the increasing tourists. The one house that remains has an interesting story. Its last occupant was Ruth Priscilla Russell Colbath. Ruth lived there her entire life along with her mother. Ruth eventually married & her husband Thomas joined the two women. One day, Thomas left the house, saying he’d be back in a little while. When he did not return by dark, Ruth put a lantern in the window for him. A tradition she continued nightly until her death 39 years later. Ruth was always convinced Thomas would return home. She was right! Three years after her death, he wandered back into Passaconaway. By that time, Ruth’s estate had been settled & her property dispersed. Finding himself homeless, he drifted off again. Thirty-nine years is a long time to wait. Wonder what she would have said if he had made it back before she died?