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Passaconaway’s Realm
Captain John Evans and the Exploration of Mount Washington
Russell M. Lawson

2002 • 252 pp. 37 illus. 21 maps 6 x 9"
New England History / White Mountains Mountaineering

$15.95 Paperback, 978-1-58465-396-7

“For local history buffs and White Mountain-ophiles who take the venue’s scenic beauty and easy access for granted, the book is fascinating, informative, an eye opener, and, though detailed, the perfect length for a brief respite from today’s frenetic pace.”Foster’s Daily Democrat

A compelling narrative of the journeys of early American explorers into the White Mountain wilderness

Now that New Hampshire’s dominant White Mountain peak can be climbed relatively easily in a long day, or more comfortably ascended by car or cog railway, it is easy to forget that it was once considered by Native Americans and most European settlers to be too sacred and formidable to attempt. In fact, mountain climbing was relatively rare until recent times, making the fifteen ascents of Mount Washington between 1632 and 1804 all the more remarkable. Passaconaway’s Realm is a concise, historically and scientifically correct, and very dramatic story of Mount Washington’s earliest climbs and the men who made them in pursuit of botanical specimens; meteorologic, geographic, and geological data; and personal adventure.

Incorporating sources that have never been utilized, Russell M. Lawson highlights the interaction of the wilderness landscape and the native peoples with such British-American newcomers and invaders as Walter Neale, Darby Field, John Josselyn, Captain Wells, Robert Rogers, Nicholas Austin, Governor John Wentworth, Jeremy Belknap, and Manasseh Cutler. He focuses on rustic frontiersman Captain John Evans, a founder of Fryeburg, Maine, an axe-man and hunter, but also the wilderness guide for the men of science during the 1784 Belknap-Cutler expedition. Lawson describes in close and intriguing detail the personal relations and aspirations, the logistics and difficulties, and the scientific aspirations and outcomes of this key early ascent.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“Russell Lawson merits praise for his conscientious and detailed scholarship and for a text distinguished by a superb literary style and an intimate knowledge of White Mountain topography, climate, natural life, and history.”The New England Quarterly

"...the historian will find this book pointers to much source material , and the general reader will enjoy a vivid rendering of the story of mountain exploration in the eighteenth century."Historical New Hampshire

“And extraordinary adventurer, writer, and visionary, Captain John Smith deserves an account of his exploits as vivd as this one. Russell Lawson has left his mark with The Sea Mark, and readers of maritime history are the better for it.”—W. Jeffrey Bolster, author of The Mortal Sea: Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail

“Lawson's retelling of Smith's New England voyage as a cruise along the coast is simply brilliant. I think this book will have a lasting impact by reinstating Smith's voyage in its rightful place in American exploration. Other people came before him, but his methodical survey was the first and best of its kind for many years.”—Karen Alexander, University of Massachusetts

“Lawson’s treatment of the pioneering exploration of Mount Washington provides new facts and fresh insight, making use among other things of an apparently hitherto unnoticed, or at least unused, manuscript by Jeremy Belknap. Thus it supplements and enriches an existing literature on the White Mountains in ways that cannot help engaging a readership interested in regional history or the history of exploration. His specific focus is on the indispensable leadership role of John Evans in the famous Belknap expedition to the mountain in 1784. Here the reader is not only treated to some previously unpublished details but made to sense the real dangers of the expedition and to experience the tension between its academic purpose and Evans’s practical wilderness wisdom that was essential to plain survival. His fascinating story is based on detailed and highly responsible scholarship in all the relevant original sources, embellished by dozens of insightful observations and a demonstrated close familiarity with all the geographic settings that figure in the discussion.”Charles E. Clark, author of The Meetinghouse Tragedy

Author Photo

RUSSELL M. LAWSON, Associate Professor of History at Bacone College in Muskogee, Oklahoma, is author of The American Plutarch: Jeremy Belknap and the Historian’s Dialogue with the Past (1998).

Thu, 14 Mar 2019 13:07:45 -0500