Personal Stories

Franconia Notch, NH Landslide – October 24 1959

From October 23-26 of 1959 there was a period of unusually heavy rain over New Hampshire. During this time, Pinkham Notch, New Hampshire recorded almost 9 inches in one day. Reservoirs topped out 150% above average. The discharge numbers for various streams and rivers exceeded what was expected of a 100-year flood.

On October 24, 1959 a massive landslide occurred in Franconia Notch. It covered Route 3/Interstate 93 with rock and other rubble to a depth of 27 feet. Above is a picture of my father standing on the rubble from the landslide. I have no idea when the picture was taken in reference to when the landslide occurred. My mother talked about being there a lot when we traveled up here. When I was much younger, the scar from the landslide was still visible when we traveled here in the summer.

It took 3 1/2 days of round-the-clock work to reopen the road, which was then one of the major routes between Boston and Canada.

The picture below is what it looks like now. There’s not much left of the scar and if there wasn’t a historical marker there talking about that landslide, no one would ever know it had happened.

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