Best of The Ear: The Copps of Pinkham Notch

Editor's note: In occasional Saturday editions, The Conway Daily Sun is presenting the “The Best of the Ear," stories that first appeared in The Mountain Ear newspaper, an award-winning, weekly newspaper published by Steve Eastman from 1976 to 2005, which showcased the culture and history of the Mount Washington Valley. The Ear was bought by Salmon Press in 2005, and the last edition was published in 2014.

Eastman died in 2008, but the spirit of the Ear lives on in the pages of the Sun thanks to his brother Tom, who was assistant editor at the Ear for 28 years and is now a reporter at the Sun and co-editor of North Conway magazine, a monthly publication for visitors. 


This week’s story, written by Chris Stewart, originally appeared in the Aug. 28, 1981 issue of The Mountain Ear. It has been updated for the Sun by Tom Eastman, but the original story will soon be available on a web site being created by Steve’s widow, Sarah, and Karen Cummings.


Artistic Journeys: Cynthia Melendy: Surroundings reopens former gallery for summer

They’re back!
Surroundings Art Gallery in Center Sandwich, in partnership with Advice to the Players, has opened the downstairs section of their former gallery to bring their artists’ work to the seasonal audience for the summer. This is a welcome event to all of us who have missed the congenial atmosphere of the gallery of great artists that we looked forward to in previous years.
You may remember that they are in their old location just off the main block of the central village in Sandwich, at 12 Main St., 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays.
Surroundings specializes in original fine art produced by extremely talented locally connected artists. You will see works in a variety of mediums (oil, watercolor. pastels, acrylics, glass, wood, and so forth). Most of the subject matter is landscape oriented in a representational style. We also have beautiful wood carvings and folk art. You can take a tour of the artists’ work on the “Artists and Art” pages on their redesigned website (
The newest artist to the gallery is Craig Pursely. Craig started early in art, obtaining professional commissions at age 14 and was chosen as Nebraska’s Outstanding Young Artist at 17. While in college he worked as a composite artist for several law enforcement agencies including the FBI and continued doing so after becoming an art teacher in Colorado.
After a move to California he began work as an illustrator for a major newspaper and, during this time, he also achieved considerable notoriety as a sports artist for the California Angels, Topps Baseball Card Co., and Upper Deck Baseball Card Co.
In 2002, Craig and his wife, Julie, moved to New Hampshire where he paints the beauty of New England in addition to running the American Heritage Gallery of Art. He is a member of the Portrait Society of America, which chose his portfolio as one of the top five in 2015 and 2016 and Oil Painters of America, where he recently won second place in a national competition.
His work has been featured in American Art Collector, Southwest Art and International Artist magazines and can be seen in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, National Baseball Hall of Fame, Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site and in private collections from coast to coast and in Europe. He has won many national awards including two Best of Shows in 2015. Recently, he was chosen by New Hampshire Magazine as “Best White Mountain Artist” and has two portraits on permanent display in the state house in Concord. Welcome, Craig!
His unusual background is typical of the very talented artists represented in the gallery. We are very happy to have Craig represented in this corner of New Hampshire and hope that we can meet him soon. He is in good company with a wonderful group of artists, including the birds! The new website has several reproductions of his work on the page, and you can purchase directly off the website.
Surroundings Art Gallery has been in operation since 1980. The physical location in Center Sandwich was closed at the end of 2014. However, the gallery remains alive in a distributed format. Paintings from artists still represented by the gallery can be found in several locations. The primary location is their website.
However, many of the paintings are in a showroom located at 954 Whittier Highway (Melcher & Prescott building) in Moultonboro, which is easily located. In addition, art is also on display at the Corner House Inn in Center Sandwich. For the months of July and August, 2016, they will also be in our old location in Sandwich: 12 Main St.
The gallery hosts a number of artists, a few of which are pictured here. Many have the mood of Squam (or at least remind me of my childhood swims there). Most live full- or part-time in the area and have a genuine love for this part of New England and the skill to bring out that love in their art. Their evocative gentleness is what gives the gallery its representative aura of calm and peacefulness. Perhaps that is what also brings the moose, a regular visitor, to the gallery!
Their goal is to provide a place to purchase fine art that captures the environment and life style of New England. Do take the wonderful trip to Sandwich and visit Surroundings, as well as Carega’s Gallery at Sunshine Farm, and the wonderful tradition of the League of Arts and Crafts right on the square. A young moose told me there will be a party in celebration of their 90th birthday coming up later this summer! See you then.
Cynthia Watkins Melendy, Ph.D., an American historian, studies and writes about the arts, nature, gender and their relationship over time. You can see her walking her little dog Lucy in North Conway Village, enjoying the view of the “rockpile” when she isn’t working on her book when indoors.

Best of The Ear: The Pioneering Crawford Family of Crawford Notch

Editor’s note: This story originally appeared in the summer of 1979 in The Mountain Ear, an award-winning local weekly newspaper founded by the late Steve Eastman and Jane Golden Reilly in May 1976. The Ear was sold to Salmon Press in March 2005 and published its last issue in 2014. The Conway Daily Sun is publishing “The Best of the Ear” in collaboration with Steve Eastman’s brother, Sun reporter Tom Eastman; Steve Eastman’s widow, Sarah W. Eastman; and former staff writer Karen Cummings. Ann W. Bennett of Jackson became editor in 1978. An avid gardener, she now writes the “More Thoughts While Weeding” column for the Sun.

By Ann W. Bennett

CRAWFORD NOTCH — Mount Washington has lured explorers to its slopes since the first white settlers inhabited the forests of New England. The Native Americans of the region referred to the peak as Agiochook, and believed it to be the abode of the gods, dooming any trespasser to death. Such legends, however, did not deter Darby Field, the Exeter resident who made two ascents in 1642, giving the peak the distinction of being one of the first major mountains in the world to be climbed.

abel-crawford- for web-con-public-ibrary- 72Abel Crawford was from the pioneering family for whom Crawford Notch is named. (CONWAY PUBLIC LIBRARY)During the century that followed, adventurers continued to be drawn by the mysterious "White Hills." Although pioneers had settled the Connecticut River Valley west of the range, no known route existed through the northern White Mountains until the late 1700s. It was not until 1771 that a Lancaster hunter, Timothy Nash, discovered quite by chance a little-used Indian trail that descended the rocky pass known today as Crawford Notch. Nash struggled down the notchway and continues south, seeking out the Royal Gov. John Wentworth. News of Nash's discovery spread rapidly.

The significance of a direct path between the farms of the upper Connecticut River and the seaboard towns was immediately apparent, and use of the rough route through the notch increased at a great rate. Following the Revolutionary War, travel and commerce grew dramatically, and the roadway was gradually improved, although it was not until 1803 that the New Hampshire Legislature chartered it as an actual "highway."

During this period, the White Mountain wilderness began to fascinate young Abel Crawford. In 1790, Crawford, then 25, married Hannah Rosebrook and left the security of the family farm in Guildhall, Vt., to seek a home in the rugged hills to the east. The first people to settle the western slopes of Mount Washington were squatters who built their small log homes near Fabyan, some 4 miles north of the gateway to the notch. Hearing of this, Crawford sought them out and bought their claims. Busying himself with the construction of a house for his young family, Crawford spent late 1791 alone in the notch and in the early winter of 1792 moved his wife and two small sons to their new home.

It was not long after that his father-in-law, Eleazer Rosebrook, came for a visit. Rosebrook decided the notch was the ideal spot to spend his elderly years, bought out Abel and transported the rest of his family from Guildhall to the rugged homestead.

When the in-laws moved in, Abel moved out, heading south and settling on a site in Hart's Location, 12 miles below the Rosebrooks' and 8 miles above Bartlett. The spot was close to the present-day Notchland Inn on Route 302, and well-suited to farming since it was situated on a fertile plain on the banks above the Saco River. Also, the waterway supplied power for a sawmill and gristmill, and the Crawfords flourished.