The 1900-ish postcard shown here gives us little to go on except the label “Winter scene, South Conway Road, N.H.” This implies that the picture is taken on the main route to South Conway, but that could be either of two roads. It might be what we know today as the Brownfield Road, or it might be part of the old Goshen Road (not to be confused with the present-day Old Goshen Road).

The Goshen Road of the early 19th century ran almost directly from Conway Center to the district informally called Goshen. It included parts of what are now known as Old Mill Road, Davis Hill Road, Henderson Road and the Gulf Road, which begins at Goshen Corner. Once the last segment of Davis Hill Road was built in 1874, the old Goshen Road fell almost immediately into disuse because of the perennially swampy section at the western foot of Davis Hill. There were no houses there, and it was well worth looping around the hill to get to Goshen Corner.

Dating as it does from only a dozen decades ago, the picture was more likely taken on what we now refer to as the Brownfield Road. It begins at the outlet of Conway Lake, where Mill Street ends. That became the main road between Center Conway and Brownfield in 1874 — a big road-building year in Goshen — when the final connection was completed between Goshen Corner and Baird Hill Road (then called Perkins Hill Road). Since that time, it has been known as the Brownfield Road as far as the state line, after which it’s generally called the Center Conway Road. 

I’ve never heard local people refer to it as the South Conway Road, regardless of which way they were going or where they happened to stop. The people most likely to do that would probably be “from away.”

The chances are, then, that some winter tourist armed with a Brownie box camera wandered out from the Center, probably on snowshoes, taking photos to prove that he had really gone deep into the sticks in New Hampshire. If he made it to the location of the modern photo, a mile and a half from the heart of the village, he was hardier than most of his type at that time. Along the way he met a man driving a cutter into the village, probably going after the mail and a few essentials. The driver stopped his horse (which looks almost long-eared enough to be a mule) to see if that damn fool was going to get off the road.

That was when Mr. Visitor snapped his photo. Once developed, the image struck him as sufficiently bucolic to warrant publication as one of the postcards that drugstores were peddling everywhere. It provided him with proof that he had been to the wilderness and survived, and it leaves us with an image of what eco-friendly road maintenance looks like.

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