History Detectives: Where In The World Was Buttermilk Hollow? | Local news
By Bob Cottrell, Special for The Conway Daily Sun
Goshen is an old local name for what is now known as South Conway, New Hampshire. Goshen is relatively easy to find, but for years I have wondered where in the world is (or was) Buttermilk Hollow?
It is not on any current map, nor easy to find in a regular Internet search. The few references I could find about it were not exactly clear on its location.
However, I found it recently on a relatively unknown relief map made by a famous 19th century geologist, Charles Thomas Hitchcock (1805-80).
Now you can find it with your cell phone (we’ll get to that later).
My research began with a reference to a painting titled “Buttermilk Hollow” in a Charles Vogel book on the Boston Art Club by artist Joseph Aaron Nesmith, who spent the summer near Conway Lake (identified on old maps and in historical paintings like Walker’s Pond). This painting is also referenced in Nellie Carver’s book “Goshen – South Conway, New Hampshire”.
I did a toponymic search in Google Books for Buttermilk Hollow and found a reference in Osgood’s “White Mountains”, published in 1876 for tourists.
The guide was one of a series of so-called âred booksâ. Unfortunately the book doesn’t tell you which direction you are going from Conway to reach Buttermilk Hollow and there are a number of lakes within that distance in many directions.
I thought I paused when I noticed the copy of the library book came with a folded map in the back cover pocket, so I did a topographic search.
However, to make the search more confusing, the map, made by geologist Charles Hitchcock, does not show the location of any Buttermilk Hollows.
A few years later I blogged about a poster displayed in one of the older hotels (probably the Interval House) promoting trips to tourist attractions and it indicated that Buttermilk Hollow was 12 miles away. . So with a little math, I figured Buttermilk Hollow must be south of Conway Village.
The puzzle was finally solved with another map made by Hitchcock, now in the collection of the Conway Historical Society, which was displayed in another hotel, the Kearsarge House.
On the raised map, you can exit Conway Corner (the old name of Conway Village, also previously known as Chatoque).
Follow Buttermilk Hollow Road south, roughly parallel to Walker’s Pond (the old name of Lake Conway).
The Buttermilk Hollow road seen on the Hitchcock relief map approximately follows the road 153 seen on the Google map to the left.
Notice the other two bodies of water on the left of each card, Pequawket Pond at the top and Pea Porridge Pond at the bottom. These features help frame the locations on the map.
The road to the left of Buttermilk Hollow Road (but to the right / east of Pea Porridge Pond with a distinctive curve) is Tasker Hill Road which becomes Allard Hill Road. The next section of the relief map finally reveals the âButtermilk Hollowâ label atop Robertson Pond (now Crystal Lake).
A quick zoom in and a switch to satellite view shows us that Buttermilk Hollow’s current name is Eaton Center.
The July / August 2020 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine argues that maps are humanity’s best tool, and I tend to agree. I read maps like other people read novels. I suggest that you can’t really do a good art or history exhibit without an exposed map. I also see the cards as works of art in themselves.
Today, most people carry cards with them all the time through their cell phones. To learn more about finding the Redstone Quarry or the Cathedral Rim with your cell phone, visit this website: https://www.theclio.com. If you turn on your GPS tracking, you should be able to see entrances to historic sites around you across the country. We have eight sites listed in the Mt Washington Valley and plan to add many more, so stay tuned!
This article was originally published under the title “On the Road from Goshen to Buttermilk Hollow.” Toponymy and Topography âon December 18, 2020, on the Mount Washington Valley History blog. To find out more, visit mwvhistory.blogspot.com.
Bob Cottrell is the director of the Henney History Room at the Conway Public Library.