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Dr. Dasypodidae
05-06-2009, 03:50 PM
Tuesday, 7 p.m., First Baptist Church, 188 Deerfield Rd., Candia, N.H.

For more than 200 years historians believed that Darby Field made the first climb of Mt. Washington in 1642. However, in the last several decades, questions have emerged about his use of Native American guides, about the likelihood of prior ascents by Native Americans, about the route Field may have followed on the mountain, and about whether Field actually made the ascent as claimed. Allen Koop, Dartmouth College history professor and former A.M.C. Old Hutperson, will examine how historians reconstruct the "truth" when given scant, vague, and even contradictory evidence. Hosted by the Pitts Museum Foundation. [from blurb in N.H. Humanities Council newsletter]

RoySwkr
05-06-2009, 07:17 PM
I went to a version of this talk several years ago, the topic was inspired by L&G Waterman who discuss it in F&C but while billed as co-presenters they didn't actually show up.

(This) Dr. Koop also periodically gives talks on AMC huts and NH's POW camp, he's worth hearing even if you don't care about the topic :-)

Jason Berard
05-06-2009, 07:48 PM
Thanks for the heads up! I just may be able to make this.

Fisher Cat
05-06-2009, 09:06 PM
Tuesday, 7 p.m., First Baptist Church, 188 Deerfield Rd., Candia, N.H.

For more than 200 years historians believed that Darby Field made the first climb of Mt. Washington in 1642. However, in the last several decades, questions have emerged about his use of Native American guides, about the likelihood of prior ascents by Native Americans, about the route Field may have followed on the mountain, and about whether Field actually made the ascent as claimed. Allen Koop, Dartmouth College history professor and former A.M.C. Old Hutperson, will examine how historians reconstruct the "truth" when given scant, vague, and even contradictory evidence. Hosted by the Pitts Museum Foundation. [from blurb in N.H. Humanities Council newsletter]

Sounds like an interesting discussion. I have a hard time believing that there weren't Native American ascents prior to Field. Are we to believe they had no sense of adventure, curiosity, or conquest? J. Rayner Edmands claims that he built the Edmands Path up to the proximity of Eisenhower based on an old footpath leading to what turned out to be exposed rhyolite, a perfect stone for tools. There was evidence it had been worked. That's not too far from reaching the summit.

averagejoe
05-07-2009, 07:08 AM
I would challenge his first ascent too. I mean, in 1642 how could he find his way without GPS. How could he survive the elements without Gore-Tex. If he or anyone within a few centuries did make the FA, there must have been some devine intervention... ...or aliens helped them.

Joe.

Bob
05-07-2009, 11:07 AM
Sounds like an interesting discussion. I have a hard time believing that there weren't Native American ascents prior to Field.

I thought the Native Americans thought it was sacriligious or they were superstitious about climbing it?

I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong.
5...4...3...2..

Dr. Dasypodidae
05-07-2009, 12:35 PM
Allen Koop, who lurks here, pointed out this missing detail in my post. :o

Kevin, Judy and Emma
05-07-2009, 02:05 PM
Thanks for the date. I was thinkin', "I'd like to hear this lecture, but Tuesday night is "Beer Night in Manchester." Well, I wasn't gonna miss beer night, so I thought, "Maybe we could get him to come give the lecture at StrangeBrews."

KDT

The Hikers
05-07-2009, 02:25 PM
The Native Americans were prevented from summitting Washington due to too many rescue missions.

Fisher Cat
05-07-2009, 02:32 PM
I thought the Native Americans thought it was sacriligious or they were superstitious about climbing it?

I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong.
5...4...3...2..

True, but society in general has shown that not everyone holds what others do as sacriligious or are bothered by superstitions. However,its true that that is the general supposition. There are many sacred areas, the Black Hills, Katahdin, Red Rocks in Colorado, too.

But it would be a bold person indeed who could say that such "fears" would have held them back. Its easy to paint a general picture.There are a lot of misconceptions about ancient cultures that are derived from just studying the remains. When the white settlers came in the 1600's they were amazed to find so much cleared land not too far off the shores. Why? The First People societies had a great demand for wood for everyday life, they were clearing land on their own just like future settlers would. Think of it, man decided to get to the moon and got there in a relatively short time once they made it their goal. Generations before would have said "impossible."

Might they may have even made it to the summit without knowing it was the highest? With the forest growth of the day, where would anyone have been able to perceive that present-day Washington was the highest? Even today, a great vantage of all the Presidentials is on Rt 115 in Jefferson. It doesn't look like Washington is the highest, but it has to do with perception. Even when on top of Washington can one tell its the tallest without today's technological measurements? If I was Field I would have gone over all four! The only thing we know about Field is based on his report, and if he did it, it would be the first documented ascent.

One thing that could have prevented them from doing so would have been having the time to do it. History has shown that during the time of wilderness warfare, King George's War, Queen Anne's War, King Phillip's War, the F & I War, when the male population was out to war sometimes for long periods, essential duties, like hunting & trapping, went on the wane. When the tide of war changed or harsh seasons made survival difficult they had to scatter or become dependent on unfavorable terms of trade. Then again, to counter my own argument, many tribal members went on journeys of personal and spiritual development lasting an extended amount of time, perhaps on one of those it was ascended.

We humans by nature are curious, inquisitive, we love to get answers, put things to the test to see if they are true, and we love pushing boundaries. No one is any different in those regards. I believe at some point in time its highly likely that a member of the First People were the first on top of today's Washington, as well as other peaks, and in doing so gave testimony to the power of the human spirit.

Wow...what a tangent I've gotten myself into.

Mats Roing
05-08-2009, 09:07 AM
Even when on top of Washington can one tell its the tallest without today's technological measurements?

Not to deviate too much off the excellent main subject Dr D brought up - but the proximity of the horizon is a good gauge to if you are standing on a higher summit. If the surrounding peaks are below the horizon you are definitely on the highest peak. Even if a peak you are looking at is slightly above the horizon you are probably still higher than that peak due to the curvature of the earth. OK DougPaul - we expect some formulas here;)

DougPaul
05-08-2009, 10:11 AM
OK DougPaul - we expect some formulas here;)
Approx distance to visual horizon assuming a spherical earth.
d=sqrt(13*h)
d (distance) in km
h (viewpoint height) in m

d=sqrt(1.5*h)
d (distance) in mi
h (viewpoint height) in ft

Happy now? :)

Not very useful in the fog.

Doug

nartreb
05-08-2009, 10:16 AM
Curvature of the earth isn't much of a factor at the distance between Mt Washington and Mt Adams (four miles) - something like ten feet of apparent height would be lost to curvature of the earth at that distance.

When you stand on the summit of Mt Washington, it's obvious that you're high above the southern Presies, that Madison is lower than Adams, and, despite its proximity, Jefferson is close to or lower than Adams in height. With a little practice you can judge whether your eyes are looking upward or downward at Adams, or you can use a home-made version of fifteenth-century technology (heck, it's probably ancient Egyptian technology too):

Tie a weight to a piece of string, and tie the other end of the string about halfway along a pole. Hold the pole up by your eye, and sight along it like a rifle as you point it at Adams. Have a friend standing to the side look at the angle between the string and the pole - is the angle larger on the side towards your eye or on the side toward Adams? The larger angle is on the side of the higher object.

DougPaul
05-08-2009, 10:29 AM
Curvature of the earth isn't much of a factor at the distance between Mt Washington and Mt Adams (four miles) - something like ten feet of apparent height would be lost to curvature of the earth at that distance.
Of course, but Mats demanded equations and those were the only half-way relevant ones that I could come up with on the spur of the moment... :)

Sometimes it is easy to tell if one is on the highest peak in the vicinity and sometimes it isn't.

Doug

TDawg
05-08-2009, 10:51 AM
(This) Dr. Koop also periodically gives talks on AMC huts and NH's POW camp, he's worth hearing even if you don't care about the topic :-)

Not to stray from the thread topic but just thought I'd say Dr. Koop's book, "Stark Decency" (http://www.upne.com/0-87451-468-1.html) is worth the read. About the former POW camp in Stark, NH, very interesting if you're into some local history. Read it for a WWII history class at PSU.

Fisher Cat
05-08-2009, 11:39 AM
Approx distance to visual horizon assuming a spherical earth.
d=sqrt(13*h)
d (distance) in km
h (viewpoint height) in m

d=sqrt(1.5*h)
d (distance) in mi
h (viewpoint height) in ft



Doug

Holy cow. My head hurts.

Mats Roing
05-08-2009, 03:41 PM
Curvature of the earth isn't much of a factor at the distance between Mt Washington and Mt Adams (four miles) - something like ten feet of apparent height would be lost to curvature of the earth at that distance.

Yes, but the curvature to the horizon amounts to considerably more........

Here are some great formulas: http://tchester.org/sgm/analysis/peaks/how_to_get_view_params.html

RoySwkr
05-09-2009, 09:02 AM
J. Rayner Edmands claims that he built the Edmands Path up to the proximity of Eisenhower based on an old footpath leading to what turned out to be exposed rhyolite, a perfect stone for tools. There was evidence it had been worked. That's not too far from reaching the summit.

Interesting, but the miners themselves were still miles from the summit including all the above-treeline section. But if Indians were out prospecting they might have had a reason to visit the summit.


I thought the Native Americans thought it was sacriligious or they were superstitious about climbing it?


The particular Indians that Darby Field met refused to go to the top, and didn't know anyone who had. No artifacts have been found high on the mountain. That doesn't mean that nobody had been there before, just that any such thought is pure speculation. Members of some other tribe could have been there or somebody had climbed it but was afraid to tell his tribe and accept blame for any bad luck. Given thousands of years of
human habitation, I would think somebody had been there.

The Watermans' emphasis was on the fact that only a few years after Plymouth Colony was founded, this guy made a trek into an unknown region and climbed a mountain that no information was available for - quite the adventure whether he was first or not. He was not a government-sponsored explorer or a mineral prospector or a real estate promoter, but rather the first known Boston peakbagger :-) They also speculated on his route.

Fisher Cat
05-09-2009, 10:52 AM
RoySwkr brings up some good points. Though local Abenakis may have had some reservations about ascending such a peak, there were other tribes which made their own forays into the area. The Mohawks are but one example as they were in territiorial disputes with them quite a bit. They may not have had the superstitious fears.

A factor in Field's favor for having made it to the top and knowing how to do so is, of course, the fact that he returned again for a second ascent and that time with a larger party. Unless, that is in dispute as well, which if it is I'm unaware.

Dr. Dasypodidae
05-26-2009, 11:41 AM
Bump.

Maybe we should grab a pint at a pub in Manchvegas after the talk (i.e., Strange Brew)?

Dr. Dasypodidae
05-27-2009, 02:15 AM
The particular Indians that Darby Field met refused to go to the top, and didn't know anyone who had. No artifacts have been found high on the mountain. That doesn't mean that nobody had been there before, just that any such thought is pure speculation. Members of some other tribe could have been there or somebody had climbed it but was afraid to tell his tribe and accept blame for any bad luck. Given thousands of years of human habitation, I would think somebody had been there.

The Watermans' emphasis was on the fact that only a few years after Plymouth Colony was founded, this guy made a trek into an unknown region and climbed a mountain that no information was available for - quite the adventure whether he was first or not. He was not a government-sponsored explorer or a mineral prospector or a real estate promoter, but rather the first known Boston peakbagger :-) They also speculated on his route.


Excellent talk by Allen Koop in Candia on Tuesday night. Pretty much as Roy recalls, although Allen speculates that Field may have ascended Mount Washington in June 1641 rather than June 1642, which was the month and year that Mass. Gov. John Winthrop's summary was published. Although Winthrop was the first identified source, another earlier source, and probably the intermediary between Field and Winthrop, was found much later in written materials recovered in the U.K. (Field was illiterate and unlikely conferred directly with Winthrop; the intermediary source was someone based in Saco who met Field before and after his adventures). The Winthrop summary is quoted in Wikipedia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darby_Field

Also, Allen provided much interesting speculation about Field's route, which for hundreds of years was believed to be from the east (i.e., Pinkham Notch), but a reading of Winthrop's account makes more sense if Field ascended from the south, either along the southern Presi peaks (later the Crawford Path) or Montalban ridge (over Mount Isolation). The southern Presi route makes much more sense to me, as Montalban would have been the mother of all White Mountain bushwhacks. Also, references by Field to lots of snow in June seem reasonable, as 1641 (and 1642) were in the heart of the Little Ice Age when Boston Harbor was frozen solid, etc.

Whether or not native Americans ascended Mount Washington before 1641 most likely will never be known, unless a third source materializes in which Field credits his guides with having made earlier ascents. Just as we still await the finding of Mallory's camera.

Dr. Dasypodidae
02-03-2010, 10:39 AM
Here's another opportunity for those of you who have not heard/seen Allen Koop's slide talk on Darby Field & the "First" Ascent of Mt. Washington, which is excellent, IMHO (see blurbs in earlier posts).

Hosted by the Wilmot Historical Society; Contact: Rosanna Dude, 603.526.6804.

Wilmot is a few miles west of Franklin, N.H., just north of Rt. 11; you can Google or Mapquest "Wilmot, NH, Public Library" for detailed directions.

rup
02-03-2010, 11:20 AM
Hmm. If there is curvature from apparent mass involved, then the gravitational effects on light path must be considered. Einstein's Field Equations are:

G_{\mu \nu} + \Lambda g_{\mu \nu}= {8\pi G\over c^4} T_{\mu \nu}


(How do you paste stuff in here?)

J.Dub
02-03-2010, 06:22 PM
Tie a weight to a piece of string, and tie the other end of the string about halfway along a pole. Hold the pole up by your eye, and sight along it like a rifle as you point it at Adams. Have a friend standing to the side look at the angle between the string and the pole - is the angle larger on the side towards your eye or on the side toward Adams? The larger angle is on the side of the higher object.

Does the pole have to be carbon fibre, or is aluminum OK?

Can the weight be an unladen sparrow?

:D

Dr. Dasypodidae
04-01-2010, 03:10 PM
Here is another chance to see Allen Koop's slide talk "Darby Field and the "First" Ascent of Mt. Washington" up north. I believe that the North Woodstock Town Office Building is just up Rt. 112 to the west of the junction with Rt. 3 (#165 Lost River Road is on the south side of the road, I think).

http://local.yahoo.com/NH/North+Woodstock/Government+Community/City+Hall