A History Of The Mt. Major Hut
If you've been on the summit of Mount Major, you've probably wondered about that old hut up there. It's always a disappointment to reach the summit and see other people laying claim to the comfortable sitting area, a throne with a stellar view out to the big lake.
Mt. Major has been a popular hiking destination since the 19th century, but it wasn't always a state-owned public park. About 75 acres of the area, including the summit, was purchased by George Phippen in 1914 for $125. Phippen reportedly loved not just the view, but the blueberries. He bought the land to preserve it from development and to keep it accessible for hikers and view-seekers. In the 1920's he tried to give it to the state of New Hampshire, but legal mumble-jumble kept that deal from going through.
So in 1925, Phippen built a stone structure with a roof, a window, and a door. Inside, there was a bench and a woodstove. Anyone could come up and use it. Perhaps it would protect a weary hiker from a sudden storm on the exposed summit. Or perhaps to provide an adventurer with an interesting night of camping and a place from which to watch the sun rise over Alton Bay.
The winter of 1925 was a harsh one, and it took the roof right off the brand new hut. The next year, Phippen built a better roof with iron, spruce poles, and interlocked boards. But this is New Hampshire! That roof lasted two years. The wind gave it a ride, a few hundred yards down the backside of the mountain. Apparently, it's still down there today.
During the Great Depression, Phippen's land was taken over by the town of Alton in order to satisfy the taxman. Alton gave the land to the state of New Hampshire in 1956. In the 1990's some hooligans knocked some of the walls down and fate has deemed the hut to its current demoralized state.
Roofless, doorless, woodstoveless, missing walls and enduring the harsh winds and snows.... Today the Mt. Major hut stands in shambles, but remains a memorial to the spirit of George Phippen and his noble intentions to get people outdoors. Give it a good pat and enjoy the respite, if for only a moment, the next time you summit Mt. Major.