Summit Eccentrics

2011-07-04 18:57:43.000 – Rick Giard,  Observer / Educational Specialist

Prayer Flags Adorn Summit Trail Cairn

As the newest staff member on the summit, and being incurably curious about everything related to Mount Washington and MWOBS, I am always searching for any and all information about this inconceivable place. For the scientist in me, there is the eternal quest for knowledge and understanding of the complex forces that shape the mountain and create its extreme conditions. For my amateur historian alter-ego, there is a rich and fascinating history and legacy to discover. An endless procession of characters and anecdotes march through the years, and uncovering these priceless treasures out of the centuries is always time well spent. It has been said that to understand the present, one must search the past.

Anyone who has spent much time up here will also tell you that the Rockpile attracts some rather eccentric characters at times. Yesterday while reading Peter Randall’s excellent old book, Mount Washington: A Guide and Short History, I encountered the story of an amusing summit incident that occurred 160 years ago today. It is very well told, so here you have it verbatim.

‘John Coffin Nazro., a religious fanatic, who believed he owned the mountain and set up toll stations, charged hikers one dollar each. He renamed the mountain Trinity Heights and proclaimed the coming of the ‘Ancient of Days’ on July 4, 1851. That day loomed dark and stormy, but his predictions were not fulfilled. Nazro, who was opposed in his toll-collecting, gave up his plans and left the mountain. Some years later, however, a man claiming to be John Nazro, U.S.N., presented himself to John H. Spaulding, proprietor of Tip Top House, saying he wanted to collect back rent. Refused payment, the man left the mountain, never to be heard from again.’

If you are thinking that the eccentrics are ancient history, have a look at this picture of a near-summit trail cairn adorned with prayer flags placed there this afternoon!


Rick Giard,  Observer / Educational Specialist

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